It has become increasingly difficult for brands to reach their target audience in the Age of Noise. And while there are a variety of tactics marketers employ to combat this disengagement—Social. Mobile. Programmatic. Content Marketing. Native Advertising. Name your buzzword.—consumers remain highly fragmented and distracted.
Adding to this difficult situation is the fact that mass media is no longer the easiest way to reach an audience. The broadcast networks of today are Facebook, Snapchat, WhatsApp, etc. And just like television channels before them, these platforms aren’t created with an altruistic purpose in mind. Brands can no longer simply create a Facebook page and expect organic traffic to skyrocket. Meaning, pay to play is becoming more of an issue for digital marketers.
As someone who grew up on the advertiser’s side of things, I can see where the complexity sometimes is enough to drive people to say enough.
Your audience is still out there, though, checking their messenger apps right now while walking down the street. The key to reaching them through the complexities of the modern world is understanding who they are, where to find them, and on what device.
What is Paid Media?
Although it’s one of the oldest ways to think about marketing, the breakdown of Paid/Earned/Owned media still provides the most easily understood definition of paid media.
Owned Media: Channels owned by a brand…think website, newsletter, app, or podcast.
Earned Media: Channels not directly owned or controlled by a brand—for example, when a brand’s customer is talking about it on social media.
Paid Media: This includes channels such as Google search results, banner ads, Facebook’s feed, and podcast advertising. Paid media is the result of brands paying to get in front of their audience.
Paid Media: Paid Search, Paid Social, and Display
Three of the core digital paid media channels are Paid Search, Paid Social, and Display. Most brands play in the Paid Search space. One reason for this could be how very easy it is to sign up for a Google AdWords account and start marketing to your customers the same day. Paid Search has been a goldmine for companies like Google thanks to demand capture. People searching for “local hair salons” are highly likely to convert soon and if you are a local salon, paying for that keyword might be an inexpensive method for securing a fantastic ROI. Going after existing demand for your product or service is only one part of the puzzle, though.
Growing a business depends on generating incremental demand as well as capturing what is already out there. What does that mean? It means introducing your product to a new audience, ensuring your new service is being considered among the alternatives, and before a consumer is ready to signal intent (with that search query), getting in front of them with one more timely message.
This is where Paid Social and Display comes into play, for example. In an era where data is abundant and access to digital advertising is becoming commoditized, more and more companies should be learning how to create more demand.
What is the Paid Media Experience Curve?
In the years since I left the advertiser side for the agency world, I have worked with a diverse set of brands at different stages of experience. But, I almost always see the same progression up the experience curve. In Phase I we have companies playing in the somewhat safe space of Paid Search.
Typically they move to Phase II when it appears the brand has “maxed out” existing demand. The logical next step is to turn on some display keyword or remarketing campaigns within the same platforms that house Paid Search. Many times here the advertiser can get frustrated because they have increased spend but might not see performance rise along with the budget.
The biggest mistake advertisers can make is not fully understanding the difference between demand capture and demand generation. Simply put, your budget has to work harder when faced with a consumer who is not aware of your product or isn’t ready to buy right now. Even when armed with this understanding, lack of good data can stand in the way of success.
Phase III is typically the most frustrating stage for many advertisers, though. Take the situation for example—the director of digital marketing for a SaaS platform might understand the need to build up demand, but might be misguided with which platforms or tactics to use. The worst thing this director could do is task one Display partner with finding incremental audience, task another with retargeting to unconverted site visitors, and then look at multiple discrete reports that could overlap. Using one source of truth (like an ad server or attribution platform) can help separate fact from fiction.
But the most sophisticated advertisers have bridged the gap from siloed data to Phase IV, which is full of cross-channel opportunity. With proper data infrastructure, correct strategy, and pinpoint messaging, any brand can move up the paid media experience curve. This doesn’t mean ROI always increases at the same speed, but with the proper framework in place, a smart advertiser will succeed.
In Part 2 of this post, we will discuss how to move up the experience curve and what to expect in the years to come.
Did you like this post? Let us know why (or why not) in the comments. In the meantime, check out our blog Maximizing Reach: Get the Most from Bing Shopping to discover how to profitably capture demand by diversifying your Bing and Google shopping strategies.