16 Jan 7 Tips for Online Media Buys

Making decisions about how to leverage online venues is much like the process used to decide where to place offline ads. But once you’ve done your analysis about who (audience), what (campaign), when (frequency), where (venues, placement, size) and why, that’s where the similarities end. With online advertising, there’s more flexibility in measuring visibility and responding to trends. Here are some tips to remember when planning your online buys:


1. Set a goal. Whether it’s awareness or lead generation, your online strategy and tactical execution must reflect a clear objective. For example, if you’re chief objective is to create awareness, run banner ads with impressions spread over longer periods of time—at least 12 weeks, preferably twice that. For lead generation, consider pay-per-click (PPC) either directly through publishers or using performance-based ad networks with a measurable call to action such as a white paper download or webinar registration.


2. Segment sites and examine traffic. Narrowing choices requires analyzing sites first by industry (e.g. education, manufacturing) and by function or audience (e.g. CIOs, architects) and then by visibility and price. Ask yourself: How much budget is needed for the desired coverage (frequency, size, placement)? For huge sites like CIO or CNet, you’ll need a big budget to make an impact—unless you specify placement in content areas or choose short time periods.


3. Identify competitors’ online strategies. Are they focused on awareness or lead generation? What are their messages? Which sites have they chosen? What seems to be their coverage selection (frequency, size, placement)? What does your share of voice need to be to be heard?


4. Estimate the response rate. The success of your program can be measured in terms of impressions/clicks. You need to establish a threshold ratio that’s acceptable. Depending upon the industry and site, average click-through-rates can range from 0.15% – 0.40%. Ask the site ad rep what typical low/high/avg rates are for the coverage you’re thinking about.


5. Have a strategy for click destination. Where will the ads lead? If you’re using a promotional offer, make sure the prospect lands smack-dab in the promotional information when they click on your ad. This optimizes site interaction and ideally results in a desired transaction. On your landing page, make the call to action clear, the offer compelling, and the contact form as easy to complete (i.e.—short).


Now you’ve gathered what you need to make an intelligent media buy. The old adage of frequency still applies—better to have regular coverage in fewer venues than less coverage in a broad range of venues. HOWEVER, with online advertising, you have an opportunity to ‘test’ sites and messages quickly to guide your decisions for bigger commitments. So, you might want to spread your buys for a few weeks and then focus, focus, focus based on which venues and creative delivers.


Which brings us to the final two tips:


6. Monitor, monitor, monitor. Online advertising has unparalleled flexibility for making coverage and creative decisions on-the-fly, which means you need to be monitoring your buys constantly. Watch your delivery—the impressions negotiated are guaranteed, so keep track by site, content area and creative unit.


7. Have a readily available creative team. No matter how organized you are, it’s not uncommon to have to crank out one more ad size or file format at the last minute. Having a quick and reliable creative team gives you flexibility to move fast to respond to traffic analyses.


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