8 Questions to Answer Before You Launch A Digital Advertising Campaign
A successful campaign begins well before its launch. There is a whole host of things a media team needs to think through before they launch a digital advertising campaign.
To help organize your thoughts, we created a Campaign Setup Worksheet you can download for free.
Here, we’ll go through the nuances and particulars you need to take into account as you complete this worksheet.
1. What Is My Campaign Objective?
Your campaign objective is the motivator behind why you’re spending money on advertising in the first place.
We often see campaign objectives mistaken as the goal end result (e.g., X amount of visitors on the website), when they should be your organization’s motivation behind the campaign (e.g., gain brand awareness through quality website traffic).
It’s important to take your time, get this step right and get everyone on board because the objective serves as the core motivator of all decisions moving forward.
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Say your campaign objective is to: gain brand awareness through website traffic.
Sure, you could pursue a low CTR (click through rate). But is that relevant traffic from people legitimately interested in your brand? If they aren’t, you are not on track for your objective and you could end up wasting a lot of money.
Focusing on a low CTR, makes it hard to tell if you’re on track because CTR measures the efficiency of driving people to your site, not the quality. For this objective, you might focus more on driving engaged sessions, which measure visitors that spend a significant amount of time on your site.
This is a simple example of how the right campaign objective will keep your team on track. Throughout the life of a campaign, much more nuanced issues with more ambiguous answers will arise. At those points, a well thought out objective is priceless.
2. Who Is My Target Audience?
When it comes to programmatic advertising, thinking about your target audience in traditional ways is useful, but you need to dig deeper if you want to truly succeed.
This is because the sheer opportunity of targeting technology is so massive (partially demonstrated by this art project). The best place to start before diving into the granular specifics is with:
- The personas (who)
- The geographics (where)
Personas are the type of people you’re looking to hit with your ads. Think young professionals or new grandparents or C-level execs looking for new enterprise-level software. You can have multiple personas per campaign, but make sure they all align with your campaign objective.
Next, think through the geographics of where these personas are physically. Young professionals in Seattle? New grandparents in Phoenix suburbs? C-level execs in New York City for a big industry conference?
Be prepared to adjust your assessments once your campaign is live. Many times what you think is true about your audience may not be reflected in reality. Use this as an opportunity to adjust your understanding of what your organization offers and who responds to your messaging.
Once you establish your personas and geographics, much of the rest will start to fall into place.
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You’re running a campaign for a gambling rehabilitation nonprofit. Your persona (who) and geographics (where) may be fairly straightforward: middle-aged middle-manager men in Las Vegas. From there, programmatic capabilities offer the ability to ask the question of why.
Why are these men in Las Vegas right now? Why might they be receptive to your ads at this point in their lives? And on and on. Use this line of thinking to hone in on a truly effective targeting strategy.
3. How Will I Reach My Audience?
Next, you need to think about where your campaign will live in the larger marketing funnel stages of Awareness, Engagement and Conversion. It might be in just one stage, two stages or all three.
Your answer to where your campaign fits in the marketing funnel will help you determine which channels you will use to reach your audience in the most impactful, cost-effective way.
Here’s a high-level run through of channels and which marketing funnel stage they fit with:
- Display (Awareness, Engagement, Conversion)
- Paid Social (Awareness, Engagement)
- Paid Search (Awareness, Conversion)
- Video (Awareness)
- Audio (Awareness)
- Connected TV (Awareness)
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You need eyes on your site to support other marketing initiatives you have brewing. So, you decide to launch a digital advertising campaign to produce an immediate increase in site traffic.
The first idea that comes to your team is to recycle and recut some old video creative assets into an engaging pre-roll ad. Unfortunately, video is a channel much better suited for awareness, not straight conversion.
In this case it’d be better to put your effort behind paid search, which is specifically designed to drive conversions.
4. How Much Money Do I Want to Spend?
Money is, obviously, very important. Ultimately, a good return on ad spend is what you’re looking for out of a campaign.
So, at least a ballpark idea of not only how much money you’ll spend, but how you’ll spend it is vitally important to setting your campaign up for success.
A good way to start thinking about your budget is, how much are you willing to spend to achieve the lowest level of what you want out of your campaign. In other words, if your objective is more demo requests, what are you willing to pay for one demo request?
Then build your budget out from there. We have a more in-depth formula on the worksheet, so be sure to work from that.
One thing to be aware of is that not all campaigns will fit this way of thinking exactly. For instance, if your campaign lives solely in the Awareness stage of the marketing funnel, it might be tough to identify the lowest level of what you want out of your campaign. So, treat this as a useful starting point.
The two next questions to tackle budget-wise are:
1. Should budget be booked on a Cost per Impression (CPM), Cost per Click (CPC), Cost per Acquisition (CPA) or some other basis?
2. Do you have enough budget to divide it among channels or platforms?
3. If yes, how exactly will we do so?
These questions may be easier to answer down the road, so don’t get hung up on them here. But be sure to answer them comprehensively (along with why) before you launch.
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You need to drive calls to your sales team, so you decide that for an individual call, you’re willing to pay around $20.
You’d like to have about 100 calls in the first month, so your ballpark budget is $2,000. From there you work in cost of vendors, how you will divide budget across channels, etc.
5. When Do I Want My Ads to Run?
What you report on and when throughout the life of the campaign is vitally important to its success. These two facets are determined, to a large extent, by the start and end dates (i.e., flight dates).
While it may seem like this has a quick and easy answer, there a lot of things to consider. Be sure to think through outside influences that may crop up during the life of your campaign — anything from a particularly competitive holiday season to a surprise recall of a competitor’s product.
There are some things you can plan for and some things you can’t. Keep this in mind as you decide on your flight dates and stay flexible.
One way to stay flexible is using multiple sub-flights for more granular reporting. You’ll want to tie these sub-flights to specific strategies and budgets. Your campaign objective should justify why you’re using sub-flights and the purpose behind each.
6. What Do I Need to Report On?
The importance of determining, specifically, how you will measure success from the get-go (KPIs, leading indicators, goals, etc.) is hard to overstate.
The answer to this question will set the tone for all collaborations you put in place. It’s the central agreement that all parties involved with the campaign will work towards. It will also allow you to set everything up to work together smoothly, from individual line items to comprehensive end-of-campaign reports.
It’s best to start at a granular level when answering this question. Think about the lowest level of information you’d like to report on. Depending on your objective, that may be individual creatives, designated market areas, audience profiles or even entire sub-campaigns.
Next, think about how you will break that information out to be reported on (Which designated market areas?, Which creatives or groups of creatives?, etc.).
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Say you’re a franchise looking to boost sales in the north Texas area. The lowest level of information you’d want to report on might be performance in specific counties. So, you break out performance by each county so you can see what’s working where and optimize accordingly.
7. How Will I Track Performance?
Once you decide what to report on and how you’ll start to break it out, you need to set a litmus test for success. In other words, you need to establish your KPI (Key Performance Indicator).
The right KPI will unite all campaign stakeholders around one metric for success. It will also give your team what it needs to optimize quickly and intentionally as the campaign develops.
This level of importance brings with it a lot of nuance. In rare cases, you might even need a set of KPIs (though we don’t recommend it, except for edge cases). Setting a good KPI is a science in itself, so if you need help thinking through it, drop us a line.
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If your objective is to “increase website visitors,” your KPI may be CPC (Cost Per Click). Using CPC will allow your team to measure and optimize how much money you’re spending to get your audience to click your ad and view your website.
But do you want to ensure those visitors are highly engaged? Then consider engaged sessions or even form fills. Your choice here will determine what you optimize performance toward. That, in turn, will determine overall campaign performance.
8. What Tools Do We Need?
So far, we’ve worked through the tactical aspect of setting up your campaign (the what, who, when and why). Now it’s time to think about the technical aspect (the how).
Now is the time to start building your tool chest of everything you need to achieve your campaign objective. If you have everything already, your campaign is do-able. If not, reassess your objective or buy more tools.
Figuring out what you need to execute a successful campaign can be a huge task. We’re always available if you need help thinking through it all.
This is post is a companion piece to our Campaign Setup Worksheet.
Working through both will help beginners and seasoned veterans alike wrap their heads around how best to launch a digital advertising campaign. Subscribe below for more digital advertising tips, tricks and guides.
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