Paid media has one job: to lift your brand.
And as digital marketing evolves, so too will your strategy.
So how should you change your paid media strategy in 2021?
Here are eight changes you can incorporate without a second thought.
1. Getting Passing Ads to Convert
Passing ads are a growing sector of the paid media world.
This is evidenced by the recent evolution of Instagram Reels as well as the widespread popularity of sources like TikTok, Instagram stories, and Facebook stories.
Basically, if it passes through the user’s streaming or browsing session, you can consider it a passing ad (or passive 🙂). Up to you!
So how do you get these types of ads to pay off, both in the short and long term?
These types of advertisements have their own playing field.
They must be quick, relevant, and (ultimately) conversion-oriented.
A few specific types of ads work best here:
- Organic-seeming ads are best. You want your audience to presume you’re someone they follow, even if they don’t. You want them to think this is a regular product or service offering update, even if it’s not.
- Include post links or swipe-up links whenever possible. The easier you make it for folks to find you, the better.
- The first second matters most. Include audio when relevant and make your offering known right away. Your personality should be obvious at first glance.
- Cross-promote. If you share a product video on Instagram Reels, upload it to your story and your feed. If you have a TikTok, share the video there, too.
- Use them to build a remarketing audience of “viewers” and “engagers” and “clicks.”
2. Making Core Influencers Part of Your Business Model
As a business, you don’t have to do it alone.
Micro and macro influencers are an awesome resource at your beck and call, just as long as your audiences align. Even pages with a few thousand followers can make a big difference for smaller brands looking for a leg up.
Go on a hunt to find the top influencers in your space. Then, figure out the cost-per-acquisition for tracking each of them down (because you have to court influencers, especially the bigger ones).
From there, you can create a win-win partnership that gets you leads while the influencer earns income.
Pro Tip: You can use influencer marketing tools to help you in your journey of integrating core influencers into your business model. Some of the most popular include AspireIQ, BuzzSumo, BrandSnob, and NeoReach.
Whichever you choose, make sure the influencers you find are big enough to provide real value to your brand — and that you’re paying a CPA that makes sense for your budget.
3. Better Audience Management on Each Platform
2021 is the year to get your audience management down, both from a holistic perspective and within each encapsulated platform. That means zeroing in on every site in which you publish paid media advertisements and determining audience management.
The first step in this process?
From there, you must set up a strategy to target folks within every stage of the funnel – from upper to lower – and on each network.
Perhaps the most crucial part of this process is refreshing your audiences as the year goes on. You should definitely plan on retargeting and testing new audiences throughout this time.
If you fail to incorporate this part, you run the risk of targeting the wrong sector of people, ultimately throwing money down the proverbial drain.
However, if you retarget and refresh your approach, you’re bound to find a dynamic audience that correlates with your vision. In the end, audience management alone can be worth its weight in gold.
4. Way More Funnels
You want to double-down on creating funnels and landing pages. But you don’t just want to throw these advertisements out into the internet abyss.
Build these funnels and landing pages:
- By ad.
- By network.
- By stage in the customer journey.
By using these three correlations, you can figure out the route users are taking to get to the purchase point, and you can determine the root of your audience’s behavior.
Journeys might differ between YouTube and Facebook, and that’s because these platforms are not built to act the same. Similarly, customers may respond differently by ad type (think carousel ad vs. video ad).
Where they are in the customer journey makes a huge difference as well. Consumers in the awareness stage will not respond to a coupon in the same way that someone just shy of the purchase stage will.
In short, keeping nuances in mind as you develop a collection of funnels and landing pages will make all the difference.
5. More Forecasting by Source & Time With Budget Allocation
Staying on track with your paid media strategy means accurately allocating your budget across the board. It may sound tedious, but once you get into the swing of things, this process will be a natural part of your digital marketing.
First things first: Know the cost of all items in your program. This could be the cost-per-clicks, subscriptions, influencer payments (as mentioned above), or a whole slew of other monetary payments.
Basically, you want to know what you’re paying, and where.
Next up: Forecast by quarter, not just year. This allows for easier budget shifts within a year.
When you’re ready to change up your paid media tactics, you’ll be better set up to do so. Getting the budgetary green light from executives will run much more smoothly with a quarterly forecast in hand.
6. Getting Into Bed More With Microsoft
Microsoft, you’ve outdone yourself.
The new Microsoft Advertising options are here, and the platform itself is really taking off.
As a marketing professional, your brand will surely benefit from digging into it more by 2021.
Specifically, Microsoft Advertising is now offering three new targeting options:
- Enhanced LinkedIn targeting: Since Microsoft acquired Linkedin in 2016, they’ve developed targeting for LinkedIn profiles. Now, marketers can target LinkedIn audiences by job function, company, and industry. There’s also the option to use campaign bid modifiers by industry or job.
- In-market audiences: Microsoft Advertising has expanded in-market audiences to France and Germany, which could be beneficial for some companies. But aside from that, in-market audiences themselves are super effective.
- Dynamic remarketing for Microsoft Shopping: Microsoft Shopping now gets dynamic remarketing. This means that ecommerce marketers can now target customers who’ve already interacted with them in some way (i.e., targeting consumers who abandoned their shopping carts).
7. Getting an Acceptable CPA on YouTube & DSP Networks
Your cost-per-action (CPA) on YouTube and demand-side platform (DSP) networks needs to be at an acceptable rate.
Using CPA ad networks is smart for businesses with a well-developed market.
You don’t have to count on clicks just to bring in money, and you can advertise based on a particular action.
It’s also important to mention that you need to make these more secondary.
They should come after the lower funnel networks and audiences are maximized.
If you need help capping your CPA, consider making use of Google’s Target CPA bidding tool. It’s robust on machine learning and helps keep you at or below your target CPA.
Set bid limits, make device bid adjustments, and calculate your average target CPA, among other nuances.
And if you didn’t know Amazon even has its own DSP now.
8. Using Machine Learning to Your Advantage
Machine learning is only getting stronger.
For marketing leaders, 2021 really is the time to hop on the machine learning bandwagon.
It just so happens that machine learning and paid media go together like peanut butter and jam.
Instead of using PPC managers who have to be compensated for doing it all, you can use machine learning.
In fact, it can strengthen your ROI for paid media campaigns of all kinds (whatever the channel you prefer).
Just make sure you don’t sacrifice your brand’s personality for a little efficiency.
One way you can do this is with Google’s responsive search ads.
With a combination of creativity and machine learning, your ads have the potential to go far.
You can also utilize Google’s Target CPA bidding, a tool we mentioned that just so happens to use artificial intelligence to get the job done.
Your 2021 Plan Doesn’t Have to Be Static
So does your business.
A new year might mean a new paid media strategy.
By incorporating the tips above, you’ll be on track for a year of growth.
- How to Create a Paid Search Plan That Will Drive Results
- 10 Important PPC Trends to Watch in 2021
- PPC 101: A Complete Guide to PPC Marketing Basics
All screenshots taken by author, December 2020