2014 looks to be a big year for online advertising growth, both in the CPC and CPM price markets. A indicates that 85% of online marketers will increase their focus on improving online advertising conversion; 59% will look to work with a new advertising network; and 52% will spend more of their budgets on display networks.
Companies seeking an increased return from their online advertising efforts are now turning to digital ad agencies or network to get the most bang for their buck. Why? Because with an ever-growing list of advertising options, it can be cumbersome to deal with each one, let alone optimize the various campaigns. And a knowledgeable, experienced advertising account manager (or management system) can be the tipping point for reaching ROI goals.
But it’s too easy to take for granted that your agency or network of choice is doing all it can to further your business. One very common scenario is the vendor gives you attention in the beginning, ramps up your advertising spend, does cookie cutter optimization, and then sits back and lets their revenue pour in (and your budget run) without much ongoing service. And if that continues, your company may never realize its full revenue and profit potential from advertising.
So how can companies like yours hold their ad vendors accountable and ensure highly optimized, transparent online campaigns that will serve them best in the long run? Here are a few ideas…
Schedule Regular Meetings
Every week, bi-week, or month (depending on how much ad management you’re hiring out), your network or agency should be on a call with you to discuss the progress of your campaigns. Always look back at your advertising goals and be sure they are actively looking for ways to help you improve performance, whether it’s optimizing keyword bids, selecting new sites to show display ads, or tweaking remarketing settings to reach site visitors more often. Think about both the short-term goals and the long-term vision for your advertising, and ask, “How does what we’re doing (or not doing) right now fit into those pictures?”
Lean on ROI Goals
If you’re ramping up your online advertising—whether it’s display, contextual, mobile, remarketing, or paid search—always have your endgame in sight…make more than you spend! That said, your advertising company should be providing you recommendations based on your campaign goals, which for most companies is the bottom line. Before signing off on any actions or recommendations, be sure that they are contributing towards that primary goal. Don’t just take “We’re increasing your brand recognition” for an answer when what you really wanted the whole time was revenue.
Get Real Reporting
An ad agency or network worth keeping is one that regularly provides tailored campaign reports that show you really what you want to measure—not just the standard click-through rates and ad spend figures you could pull from the dashboard yourself. Make sure they also explain the data. What might account for that dip in conversion rate? Why did your paid site visits slow down? Are you bidding too high or low on certain keywords? What is the quality of traffic from a particular site? Ask questions and educate yourself on what each stat means and how proper ad management on both sides can get those numbers moving in the right direction.
Ask for Creative Help
Is your agency or network willing to throw you an extra bone to keep your business? Too often today, digital ad agencies and networks will only provide you the tools or account managers to pay for traffic, yet won’t go the extra mile to help you improve the visual and verbal quality of your campaigns. But let’s face it: we all should have marketers and designers with hopefully an eye for quality display ads and web landers, plus a solid understanding of effective ad copywriting (well, at least we do!). Ask your advertising company to bring more to the table in terms of creative ad consulting, so that they’re not just buying web traffic for you—they’re delivering real value to your campaigns.
Be Honest With Them
In addition to reviewing your agency’s (hopefully) comprehensive reports, also track your ROI frequently yourself, to see if you really are getting the most out of their service. Don’t be afraid to let them know: If they’ve fallen short of that X percent ROI boost they promised, use that shortfall to leverage a more transparent process, better pricing on their services, or even be willing to drop them if they don’t help you hit the numbers. When you’ve identified clear and attainable advertising targets, your agency or network needs to prove you invested your ad dollars in the right place, or it’s time to move on.
Rinse, Repeat, and Learn
Just like your agency or network’s job is to optimize your online advertising performance, it’s still part of your job to monitor their performance, continuously. When it comes to your online ads, we always say, “Never set it and forget it,” and it’s just as important to think of your advertising company this way too. Schedule regular meetings them, even if just to brainstorm new ideas. Request timely, comprehensive reporting and focus on tangible ROI goals. Request their creative consulting whenever it could help improve your campaigns. And be willing to say goodbye if they aren’t helping you reach your targets.
Finally, if you’re looking to get the most out of your advertising company, you’re already on the right track by doing your research! There’s a wealth of information online about advertising best practices, both on our blog and elsewhere. Educating yourself is perhaps the best way to recognize an agency or network that isn’t pulling its weight, or optimize your relationship with one that has potential. It’s a crucial step that’ll position you for online success this year and beyond. Good luck!
As a top-ranked ad network, Advertise.com provides market-leading online advertising and web monetizing solutions for companies around the world. Contact us to learn more or get started with your advertising campaigns.