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The Importance of Testing in Your Media Buying Strategy
A successful media buying strategy is all about reaching the right audience, at the right time, on the right platform: a feature that can’t be accomplished without appropriate goal-setting and testing. Most marketers begin media buying with KPI-specific goals, like a 20% increase in brand awareness or a 15% spike in monthly site traffic. But, where does testing fit into a media buying strategy?
You should test at all stages of a media buying strategy, from ad placement to creative assets. Consider testing as a trial run for a tactical media plan before needing to commit your entire budget fully. By evaluating the individual factors of a media buying campaign, like targeting data and messaging, you have the best chances of receiving a positive return on ad spend (ROAS).
Take a look at just how necessary testing is in a media buying strategy, including how to test (and tweak!) your media buying process for ultimate results.
How Much Do You Spend on Media Buying?
Before you can begin goal-setting and testing, it’s helpful to understand how much you should anticipate spending on media planning. Keep in mind; your advertising budget relies on several factors, including the size of your company and overall objectives. For instance, a multi-chain franchise may allocate more for media buying than a single location restaurant.
Here’s what you need to know about the financial side of your media buying campaign.
The Average Cost of Digital Media Buying
The average cost of a media buying campaign varies widely depending on the industry, company’s size, and campaign goal. For example, extensive brand awareness campaigns have very different budgets than small- to mid-sized direct response campaigns. But, generally speaking, the average advertising costs for businesses that leverage digital ads are between $9,000 and $10,000 per month.
Gartner’s Annual CMO Spend Survey research indicates that 26% of marketing budgets are spent on paid media. Once broken down by category, digital media buying accounts for 16% of total marketing budgets. On average, small businesses should allocate 7% to 8% of revenue on digital marketing, mid-sized businesses should give 10%, and enterprise businesses should distribute 15%.
The Price to Pay for Misplaced Media
Now that you have a better idea of the cost of a media buying campaign, it’s time to take a look at what a misplaced ad might cost you. Allocating ad dollars to the wrong place is a severe misuse of funds. Not only will you waste money, but you won’t garner anywhere near close to your expected KPI goals.
Additionally, spending your budget in the wrong place can force you to make up ground and become more efficient in other areas of digital marketing, ultimately heightening the stakes for other media tactics or partners in your media plan. You’ll end up spending even more money to develop something new and risk leaving a poor impression on your target audience right out the gate.
What Do You Need to Know About Your Media Buying Campaign?
With the risks of an impromptu media buying strategy revealed, it’s clear that a ton of thought should go into the target audience, ad placement, and budget for your digital buying. However, that’s not all you need to know before embarking on your media buying campaign. Before media planning, it’s essential to decide on your objectives and how you’ll measure them.
How do your dollars move the needle? What is the return on investment (ROI) you’re currently tracking? Is it how many users converted to a lead, or which percentage of leads became a customer? For example, if you spend $1,000 on digital ads, how many purchases will you need to achieve a positive ROI?
What do your optimal results look like? For example, are you looking for new email subscribers, potential leads, or completed conversions? What metrics are you tracking to measure optimal results? For instance, your ideal results might be 25 new leads, 15 completed transactions, or 10% more web traffic.
Fine-tune for best results. How can you make your media buying strategy better? Is there a set of ad copy and graphics outperforming the rest? Do customers gravitate to a specific type of ad placement, like homepage takeovers? Monitor results and make changes accordingly.
At the heart of all three of these objectives is testing. It will reveal how your dollars can potentially move the needle before buying even begins and can help optimize performance once your strategy is underway. Take a look at just how crucial testing is in your media buying strategy.
1. Concept Testing Before Media Buying
Concept testing is the process of evaluating customer response to copy or creative before either becomes part of an overarching strategy. For example, in a media buying strategy, concept testing uses a small budget to predict the success of a larger media plan.
Concept tests maximize your media buying dollars by pre-determining what your target audience will be most receptive to before draining all of your established budgets. They rely on stimuli — individual ad copy, messaging, imagery, and videos — that you want to test. Generally speaking, success with smaller concept tests can lead to success with larger budgets.
Unless you are an enterprise-level company like Nike or Apple, small tests in the $15,000 to $50,000 range can flesh out the results of specific digital media services. When you don’t invest your entire budget into an unknown tactic and instead complete a minor activation to prove a success, you won’t waste your budget on uncertainties.
In other words, you can save time and money conducting concept testing as a trial run for your media buying strategy. Here’s how to move forward with concept testing for your ad campaign.
How to Set Up Concept Test Stimuli
It’s not uncommon for brands or marketing agencies to toy with multiple stimuli before settling on one or two concepts. Fortunately, there are a few different ways to test the waters before investing in ad inventory. Most commonly, brands leverage either monadic or sequential stimuli tests. Of course, each choice has its pros and cons. However, both play a significant role in concept testing.
For a monadic survey, you divide a segment of your target audience into smaller subgroups who are each shown different stimuli. Results are judged based on which stimulus performs best among the other groups. This method helps reduce survey fatigue, especially if the catalyst tested are wordy ad copy or lengthy videos. However, monadic surveys typically require a larger sample size, making them more expensive.
For a sequential survey, a segment of your target audience is all shown the same stimuli in random order. Results are judged based on which catalysts perform best among the entire group. This method may induce survey fatigue, especially if you test multiple stimuli at once. However, sequential surveys require a smaller sample size, making them less expensive and also less time-consuming.
2. Testing After a Media Buying Campaign Starts
Once your media buying campaign is underway with the concepts selected by your target audience, you must continue testing. All media buyers must quantify their media impact and determine whether or not they’re reaching their target audience. To do so, you should decide what metrics are important to you and set a particular PKI to evaluate performance.
Return to your goals. How should your dollars be moving, and what do optimal results look like? For example, you might be tracking for a 15% rise in web traffic or a 10% increase in brand awareness. Your media buying campaign must lead to measurable profit, so be sure to track the same KPIs over time for an accurate view of performance.
How to Set Up Analytics to Properly Track Results
Analytics should be established at the campaign level for all marketing efforts, whether traditional media like TV ads, print placements, or digital media such as social media ads, Google AdWords, and Bing Webmaster. Fortunately, most digital platforms offer templates as well as custom and smart goals to track results properly.
For instance, Google Ads allows media buyers to track:
- Destination Goal Details — Acts as a pageview or screen view as a conversion
- Duration Goal Details — Treats minimum session duration as a conversion
- Event Goal Details — Views user interactions with your site or app as a conversion
- Pages/Screens per Session Goal Details — Uses the number of pages or screens per session as a goal and the users who view more than the specified number as a conversion.
Google Ads also allows users to set maximum cost-per-click (max. CPC) bids to maximize conversion value while trying to achieve an average return on ad spend (ROAS) equal to your target. If you’re struggling to set up analytics to properly track results, speak with a media buying agency that offers digital strategy consulting. Together, you can monitor campaign success over time.
3. A/B Testing Done Right
Beyond concept testing, A/B testing is an effective method of quantifying your target audience’s response to marketing materials. And unlike concept testing, A/B testing can take place at any time, even after your original concepts already appear across banner ads or other media placements. However, these tests are only informative when set up correctly.
An A/B test with too many variables can quickly spiral into an A/B/C/D test, which essentially nullifies the entire purpose of testing in the first place. Since the structure of an A/B test is arguably the most important part, take a look at how to set up a proper media buying test.
- Select just one variable to measure its performance; otherwise, you can’t determine which was responsible for changes.
- Be sure to compare apples to apples, such as swapping one image for another or one CTA button for another.
- Choose a primary metric to focus on before running the test, such as total conversions or time spent on the page.
- Establish control and a challenger, the control being the original ad and the challenger being the same ad with one altered variable.
The Exponential Value of Testing for Media Buying
Can small businesses use data-driven marketing? Yes! Any company with an online presence collects data about demographics, customer and user habits, web traffic, and more. If harnessed correctly, that data is valuable to any size business — and when leveraged for digital media buying, it can maximize ad spend and safeguard against unexpected hiccups down the line.
So, don’t be afraid to conduct testing within your media buying strategy. Never consider testing new media buying methods as a waste of money when concept testing for marketing assets can ultimately save your company time, and ad spend in the long run. No matter your budget, small-scale testing can amplify the results of your all-in budget for the better.
Don’t know where to start testing your media buying strategy? A digital marketing agency like Bullseye Strategy has more than a decade of paid media trial and error experience to implement the right plan for you. Bullseye Strategy can execute media testing, analyze results, and fine-tune strategy to help you hit your relevant KPIs. Contact us today to get started.