A Lesson on the Value of a Balanced Media MixFacebook’s recent announcement that it had been overestimating video advertising view rates for over two years left many advertisers stunned. To add even more salt to the wound, Facebook admitted that other metrics, including page reach, were flawed as well. Industry leaders were disappointed in the social giant’s lack of transparency, and the ANA has called for an official audit. As the third-ranked website on Alexa, Facebook does appear to be a pretty good proxy for global advertising, but it’s really not. Facebook is one channel. It’s one very heavily trafficked and widely used website, but it’s still only one website. Advertising on one website – even Facebook – in the offline world would be equivalent to buying a single billboard (even if it’s one outside the Lincoln Tunnel) or one TV ad (even if it’s during the Super Bowl). Sure you’re reaching a ton of people, but it’s still only one ad.
The real key to online advertising success is the digital media mix. To engage audiences and drive results, advertisers need to focus on more than one channel – no matter how big and popular that one channel is. A good example of a good media mix is the campaigns large florists run around Valentine’s Day. You may first hear ads for them on the radio offering a discount code, or see their ads in the newspaper (if you still read paper things). But you’ll also see their ads on social sites, and you’ll see ads on nearly every site you visit around the web. You may even see pre-roll ads for flowers if you watch videos online. If you visit their site and shop around, you’ll be retargeted and see ads everywhere you go for days! Sounds expensive, right? Like something you can’t afford on your budget? Here’s the truth: It’s something you can afford. In fact, it’s something you can’t afford to skip – at least not in the early days of your digital ad campaigns. What we recommend is that Facebook be part of your media mix, but that you test a few other digital channels and few different ad formats to see what works for you. In your test mix, you’ll want to include:
- Search engine marketing – search engine marketing works because it targets users who have a strong intent. Someone searching for “long-stem roses” around Valentine’s Day is likely planning to buy roses, right?
- Programmatic display advertising – the beauty of programmatic display advertising is that it that it targets consumers using multiple data sources, and reaches them all over the web and on mobile devices. That means if your target audience is 55-65 year old married men in the New York metro area who earn over $75K a year, you’ll be able to reach them with your ad, anywhere and at any time.
- Video advertising – video advertising is a great way to tell your brand or product’s story! There are many opportunities to place video ads on traditional and mobile sites, and not just on YouTube.
- Social advertising – look beyond Facebook, and explore the targeting and advertising opportunities Twitter, LinkedIn, SnapChat and other social players have to offer.
- It will likely cost less than you think if you plan your campaigns well. If you know who your audience is and target them carefully, you won’t waste impressions (and money). With search (AdWords), review your keywords carefully and make sure you’re targeting long-tail rather than broad keyword terms that really match what your audience is searching. (So, “buy long stem roses online” or “buy roses for Valentine’s day delivery” rather than “roses.”)
- You control the budget on all of these digital channels. Set your budget upfront and stick to it!
- Monitor your test campaigns carefully and optimize as necessary. If a keyword or ad is driving a lot of traffic but no conversions (and therefore spending a lot of your budget), adjust it or shut it down, ASAP.
- It will save you money – and heartache – in the long run. Investing in tests upfront may seem extravagant, but if you run your tests for four to six weeks, you’ll have a really solid idea of what’s working for you and what’s working against you. And you may learn that Facebook works well for some things, but that programmatic and search work a whole lot better for others.