Paid Media and Your Marketing Mix
What is paid media, anyway? Get ready to learn about the most popular forms of paid media, along with what to avoid so that you can advertise like a champion.
Download our guide—and receive our paid media outcome worksheet as a bonus. Simply fill out this form, or continue scrolling, to read about:
Paid Media and Your Marketing Mix
Accelerate Inbound Marketing
The Basics of a Paid Media Strategy
What Not to Do With Paid Media
Traditional Paid Media Channels
Opportunities with Industry Publications
Alternative Video Media Strategies
Measuring the Success of Paid Media
There are three distinct types of media that make up any digital marketing mix: earned, owned, and paid media. Using all three in combination will improve your campaigns’ ability to attract, nurture, and, ultimately, close business. For the purposes of this guide, we are focusing on paid media as a part of the digital trifecta.
When thinking about how many times you’re served ads in the digital space every day, the number becomes astronomical. Imagine that you scope the current fashions from your favorite retailer, and those perfect shoes start to follow you around the internet. Or you’re about to watch yet another cat video and a sponsored video plays first, promoting a cool car zipping along the coastline. Or you’re reading your favorite cooking blog and come across a post sponsored by a chef promoting a book. Paid media is all of that and more.
As an advertiser, there are millions of paid media opportunities at your fingertips. Some are turnkey operations; others take a lot of planning. Some are inexpensive; others are pricey. Some channels are entirely dedicated to brand awareness; others are more of a nurturing tool. Whatever your time commitment, budget, or goal, paid media, when done well, is an effective arm of any marketing mix. It is instant, offers spend control, is 100 percent trackable, and, most importantly, aids in rising above the clutter on search engines, social channels, and beyond.
Throughout this guide, we’ll cover all of the most popular forms of paid media, along with some things to avoid so that you can advertise
The digital trifecta is paid media, earned media, and owned media. Inbound marketing traditionally is a coupling of the latter two, as it draws in your audience with stellar website content, blog articles, premium content, and social media engagement.
Inbound isn’t about nudging your audience along with messages promoting your brand, so it might surprise you that paid and inbound can be done in harmony.
As an advertiser, rather than trying to separate the two, use paid media as an amplifier of your great content that drives traffic to your owned media, and a way to partner with industry experts in order to create earned media. That is the digital trifecta at work in
But that isn’t a one-step plan—it requires much planning and strategy to be done well. We’ll break down the basics of a plan and the traditional media channels
A proper paid media strategy involves plenty of moving parts and decisions to make for the best-performing campaign possible. These are the aspects to keep top of mind as you put together your plan:
How much you can allocate toward paid media makes a big difference in your overall plan. Thus, the budget should be determined first so that it can dictate your paid planning. If you’re working with a smaller budget, it’s best to focus your efforts on 1-3 channels so that they’re managed well, rather than spreading yourself too thin across several channels.
Are you looking to increase brand awareness? Do you want to double your website visitation with qualified users? Perhaps you want to obtain more conversions? Or do you just want to spend your dollars nurturing the contacts you already have? Paid media vehicles have opportunities for all of these and much more. The most popular channels offer products that match your particular goal, along with tracking abilities to see what’s working and what isn’t. Similar to the budget, your goals should dictate the channels and products you choose to promote within those channels.
The assets you use in your paid channels include all manner of promotion tools, including keywords, text ads, image ads, sponsored content, and rich media ads. In order for your ads to get the attention they need to send users to your stellar website or content, they need to have a couple major aspects in place:
In short, ads should be concise snapshots of your brand story and contain unique selling propositions. This can be difficult to achieve, so find your power in brevity.
Inbound marketing can take months and even years to regularly drive a high volume of traffic to your content, whereas paid media is immediate and often exposes your brand to users who are hearing about you for the first time. When your ads are thrown into the universe, there is a chance they will result in a visit, so making strategic decisions with your content and landing page choices is critical. When choosing your landing page, make sure these criteria are met:
This type of marketing can be broken down simply as responding to performance and data—and that is what paid media is all about. All channels offer extreme levels of reporting so that you can respond to performance easily and quickly. It’s important that a paid media campaign is monitored regularly with regular testing and updating for optimal performance and goal achievement. We’ll get more into measurement a little later.
The size of your company, your target audience, geographic location, and numerous other factors all impact the effectiveness and sustainability of your marketing efforts. Although many different paid media strategies and techniques are available, there are several different methods you should avoid at all costs.
Not all marketing channels are created equal. Although it might be tempting to spend your marketing dollars on every available medium, this will often result in wasted money and poor return on investment (ROI). Instead, you should focus on a few select channels, depending on your goals, budget, and audience. Industry benchmarks and best practices can be helpful when planning which channels to use.
For example, if your target audience includes CEOs of tech companies, you might want to focus your efforts on LinkedIn and other B2B media; Facebook might be a more appropriate option for visual brands and B2C companies. Regardless of which channels you choose, remember that you must continually evaluate and optimize your campaigns in order to make sure you’re achieving the best possible results.
Reserved space in newsletters or journals is a form of paid email marketing that can accelerate your inbound marketing, but it is important not to invest in some of the more nefarious methods of email marketing—namely, buying lists of contacts. Although paying a small fee for a “highly targeted” or “relevant” list of contacts may seem like a good idea, remember that this severely conflicts with the tenets of inbound marketing.
For example, imagine you’re walking down the street. A complete stranger walks up to you and starts trying to sell you something. Most people would be put off by this aggressive sales method, eliciting responses ranging from annoyance to exasperation to anger. This is essentially the same thing that happens when you buy an email list. Although someone might end up buying what you’re selling, most people will simply be annoyed that a company they’ve never heard of or talked to before has decided to spam their email address.
Besides putting off potential customers, there are some detrimental effects of a technical nature that can happen to your organization. When you purchase lists, you are more likely to be marked as spam, because the people you are emailing are not expecting to hear from you. Additionally, if you send emails to accounts that are no longer active, you will get a large percentage of hard bounces, which can affect your future email deliverability. Neither of these is a desirable outcome for email campaigns, so instead of wasting your time with purchased lists, you should convince people to
Sites such as Yelp and Google are often a potential customer’s first stop when deciding whether or not to use your business for the first time. Potential job applicants might peruse Glassdoor before deciding to apply to your company. Similarly, organizations might visit sites like G2 Crowd or Software Advice before deciding to implement your software product.
Though it might be tempting to augment your reviews with artificially inflated—or purchased—reviews, this is dishonest and should be avoided. Believe it or not, distinguishing fake reviews from real ones is pretty easy. Tom Vanderbilt, in his book You May Also Like: Taste in an Age of Endless Choice, discusses this at some length. Fake reviews have a number of “tells” that make them easy to spot when compared with authentic reviews, and once the reader realizes that reviews are fake, your business will lose credibility.
“In ‘invented accounts,’ people tend to be less accurate with contextual details, because they were not actually there,” writes Vanderbilt. “Fake hotel reviews, they found, had less detailed information about things like room size and location. Prevaricating reviewers used more superlatives (The best! The worst!). Because lying takes more mental work, false reviews are usually shorter. When people lie, they also seem to use more verbs than nouns, because it is easier to go on about things you did than to describe how things were. Liars also tend to use personal pronouns less than truth tellers do, presumably to put more ‘space’ between themselves and the act of deception.”
If your organization is being plagued by bad reviews, you should address the situation with honest and open communication, even remedying the cause if at all possible. There are numerous, honest techniques for reputation management that don’t involve purchasing positive reviews.
What exactly is PPC advertising? Simply put, it’s the paid version of organic search results that inbound marketers know and love. PPC is non-interruptive advertising meant to improve the user experience rather than derail it. The ads sit above the noise and clutter of organic results and offer a unique opportunity for advertisers that struggle with SEO on certain
We could write an entire Guide to PPC e-book, but for our purposes here, you should know that the most important thing to keep in mind is creating an efficient and strong experience for the user. That means you will want to have multiple campaigns, each promoting a specific service you provide. For example, one for dog walking, a second for dog grooming, a third for overnight care, and so on. Each campaign has three distinct pieces:
Now that you have a broad idea of what PPC is and how to create a solid campaign, here’s the question of the hour: What does PPC do to accelerate inbound marketing?
There are dozens of social channels that marketers can use for advertising, and most of them go one step beyond to provide multiple ad product options. They offer self-serve options that allow you to set your budget, create campaigns, and analyze—all within the platform. No matter which channel you choose, there are three important things to keep in mind when you get started with your high-level strategy: Use the targeting tools at your fingertips to match your persona’s demographics and
Do you ever feel as though one of the items on your wish list just follows you around the internet? No matter where you go, that pair of shoes or new camcorder is there. The reason is simple: retargeting.
Retargeting works using a cookies-based technology that follows your audience (historical website visitors and email addresses) around the internet. This strategy works best when paired with a larger digital strategy that is driving users to you. There are two goals that a marketer might have for including retargeting in a marketing mix:
There are several platforms out there to choose from, and you must choose based on your goal, the kind of nurturing experience you can provide, and where your audience primarily is located on the internet. Some of our favorite platforms are the remarketing product within the Google Display Network and AdRoll, which both offer simple retargeting options that you can manage yourself in their user-friendly platforms. Speaking of
If you want to learn more about retargeting, this retargeting beginner’s guide will help you in setting up your very first campaign with success!
Google AdWords is a well-established paid option that displays your business’s listing on search results and
Similar to Google, ad networks have been around since the dot-com boom in the 1990s. In all that time, countless campaigns have been launched, and improvements have been made. Marketers can buy ads across millions of publisher sites and apps and advertise to an audience that is, well, basically the size of the internet. There is an ad network for every advertiser based on your goals, budget, personas, and knowledge base. Adsterra, for example, pairs advertisers with premium publishers and targets their users across those sites.
The partner you select to work with on your display program should fit your particular needs, whether they are related to targeting, pricing, placement, or performance history. There is a network out there for everyone! Below is a good example of a targeted display ad in a travel publication for a beach destination to encourage one more beach vacation before the end of summer.
We’ve talked a lot about targeting your audience using its interests, what it searches, how it interacts with its favorite social channels, and how it acts across the web. Sometimes, you can target your audience simply by choosing to work with a publication whose persona matches yours. There are thousands of publications out there with specific audiences, and they often have multiple ad products that can suit your exact needs. Head over to the publication that you know your users enjoy and scroll down to the footer where you can typically find the “advertise with us” or “media kit” button.
Paid media spreads your reach into channels where you hope to connect with potential customers. Account-based marketing, or ABM, takes this concept one step further by targeting specific personas with sales-focused content—as if each persona is its own unique market. For example, if you have a group of prospects with a certain pain point, you can deliver paid media ads that directly address that pain point to just those specific prospects, ideally driving them to click and move deeper into the sales funnel. HubSpot has a great blog post detailing more about ABM and how it aligns marketing and sales into a laser-focused approach to attracting and converting prospects and even existing customers.
Industry publications are in the business of building a highly targeted audience and charging advertisers (you) access to their audience in different ways. In order to quickly ramp up your marketing efforts, you need to include industry publications as one of your primary marketing channels.
Start by listing all the publications in your industry that you think your customers subscribe to. If you don’t know any, here are several Google searches that can help get you started:
Use your best judgment when selecting a publisher by putting yourself in the shoes of your customers. If you are unsure which publisher to use, ask your customers. Each publisher will likely have a media kit with pricing, advertising options, and a profile of its audience’s demographics. If a publisher doesn’t have information such as industry, company, job titles, and location for each contact, you should be careful about paying too much, because you need to ensure that its audience is active and qualified.
If you don’t yet have a personal connection but have found an ideal publisher, reach out to the appropriate contacts and begin establishing a relationship. You can find the advertising contact’s information on the publication’s website by navigating to the “contact” or “advertising” section, which is often linked in the footer of the home page. Both types of pages should have a primary contact for advertising inquiries. The publisher should also have its media kit available for download on the advertising page.
Just as you have nurtured your relationship with the editors at the publications, you also need to work the relationship with the salespeople who call, you asking you to advertise in their magazines. Though we don’t always suggest traditional paid ad placement in print publications, there are alternative paid media options that can help you drive traffic and leads to your website. Let’s take a look at the types of paid media agreements you can make with publishers that will support your inbound marketing efforts:
If you have a limited email list and are looking to quickly expand your audience and drive more leads into your sales funnel, contact the publisher’s sales team and start a discussion about running a CPL campaign. A CPL campaign is when the advertiser pays the publisher any time a user takes an action on the publisher’s website that generates a lead for the advertiser. It is one of several types of pricing models you can choose from in the paid advertising space.
CPL works by either hosting your content on the publisher's website and placing it behind a form (gated content) or having the publisher drive traffic to your landing page and tracking how many leads are generated. Any time someone downloads the content, you will receive the new lead, and you pay the publisher an agreed-upon price.
You have surely run across these types of campaigns when browsing the internet. If the publisher is following the rules of the Federal Trade Commission, you will see the word “sponsored” next to any editorial content offers, such as an e-book or podcast, or display ads.
Similar to how you can pay a publisher to host and promote your content with a CPL campaign, you can also pay for your content to be included within a publisher’s email newsletters, or you can completely sponsor its newsletter and send a custom email promoting your content.
The steps for a successful sponsored email campaign are similar to those for a CPL campaign. The main difference is that traffic is being directed to your website and not a landing page on the publisher's site.
Every industry has several publishers with email newsletters, and some of them already have sponsored email campaign options as part of their paid media kit. If not, simply ask if they would be willing to arrange a sponsored email send. Outside of the industry, you can look to related email newsletters that your target audience is subscribed to. For example, SmartBrief has a long list of email newsletters in different verticals, and its media kit includes multiple custom sponsored email send options. Each industry has its own niche publications that have highly targeted contact databases.
Sponsored webinars are a powerful way to get a larger audience to engage with your content in a unique way, plus the recorded version can act as a lead-generation content offer afterward. To learn more about webinars, read The Marketer’s Guidebook to Hosting a Webinar. If you have a limited audience of your own or are looking to grow leads, you will need to work with and pay a publisher that has a webinar program.
Again, start with finding out what the industry publishers have to offer. If they don’t have anything, propose the sponsored webinar idea at a much lower cost, because they don’t already have a webinar program. Then, choose your topic wisely. For example, if your business is mechanical, pick an engineering topic for an engineering-focused publisher. If the publisher is a magazine that targets C-suite executives, an engineering webinar topic won’t resonate with it. However, a webinar discussing how to improve profitability will. Remember: This is not an advertisement—this is an opportunity to have the thought leaders on your team share some knowledge in a live webinar. If people notice it is “
Here is an example of a landing page on Windpower Engineering & Development’s site that was used to promote an upcoming webinar sponsored by 3M. After the webinar, the landing page was used as a lead-generation form for anyone who wanted to watch the recorded webinar.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words—but what about a video? Including various different forms of video content into your inbound strategy is a surefire way to get people interested in your content, and research has shown that videos positively increase conversion rates across the board.
In a world of ever-changing algorithms, keeping your posts at the top of Facebook’s newsfeed can be a near impossible task. Boosting your Facebook videos is the most efficient way to ensure that your content is seen. Data has also shown that people comment over 10 times more on Facebook Live videos than on regular videos, thus making it one of the best ways to drive engagement across your social media channels. You can use a livestream to:
You may be familiar with YouTube as a video hosting platform, but it also has a powerful advertising feature in the form of video ads:
Wistia’s Turnstile feature is a lead-generation form that is directly embedded into your video content. You can require this form to be filled out or have it pop up at certain times during your video:
Combine this feature with paid social and you have the potential to see a significant boost in your lead-generation efforts.
Tracking the success of your paid media campaigns can be a tricky task. Although some campaigns are directly measurable by the amount of conversions or leads generated, goals such as brand awareness and driving traffic can be more difficult to quantify.
That said, there are three primary goals in paid media:
Although quantifying your ROI for brand awareness campaigns can be difficult, they're still important for getting visitors to your website and increasing your reputation. In order to measure the effectiveness of these campaigns, there are a couple different metrics you should pay attention to, depending on which channel or medium you use:
This example shows a Ford ad on Twitter trying to promote awareness of the Ford Fusion Sport. No doubt the marketers behind it are keeping an eye on the clicks and website visits, as well as the favorites, retweets, and replies that they get.
Driving leads to your website is probably the most common goal when it comes to paid media. After all, how can you expect your sales team to close deals if it doesn’t have any potential customers in the funnel? For these types of campaigns, you want to measure the number of people who fill out a form, claim an offer, or sign up for a promotion:
That said, the success of your lead-generation campaigns are not just measured by
Nurturing campaigns aren’t as straightforward as lead generation; however, they are just as important to your sales funnel. After all, most first-time visitors to your website won’t be ready to make a purchase quite yet, so it’s important to nurture these contacts until they are ready. Some methods of nurturing can be easily measured, but others not so much. An easier metric to gauge is the number of leads who converted on a retargeting ad and made a purchase. You can also use filters on LinkedIn’s paid updates to specifically target people or companies that you’ve been in contact with.
Other methods of nurturing aren’t as straightforward. Vigilant data collection and analysis are needed in order to track the number of leads and marketing qualified leads that interact with your paid media and progress further down the sales funnel.