When we work with any type of company, our first impulse is to explore paid media channels. The reason?

Paid media is a guaranteed, fixed way to get customers – you can predict the costs, predict the volume, and accurately budget for campaigns. The most popular and most old school type of marketing agency, the ad agency, deals exclusively with paid media, taking a percentage on the ad-spend – and they do so for a reason.

Ads allow you to establish a firm, objective CPA (cost per action) or CAC that you can structure your marketing efforts and ROI around.

The Audit

TV, newspaper advertising is an important medium; in the near future, it will be completly integrated into digital ad systems like Adroll – TV is rapidly being replaced by online platforms like Hulu and Amazon Prime; simultaneously, your typical billboard advertising is being replaced by an open media digital ad publishing system that “democratizes” physical space. Say hello to personalized ads in department stores – geofencing and geospatial advertising is the next big trend.

Assuming most of the course registrants are tech companies. we are going to focus on the core paid media platforms where 99% of ad-spend is focused. Google, Facebook, LinkedIn for B2B…this is where consumers spend their time online, and thus is the most favorable platform to data-driven marketers like us. The larger the audience on a platform; the more complex their advertising.
This complexity is actually a good thing because it creates opportunities for you to compete with companies with a larger budget.

The Analysis

The Axis of Paid Media

Platform How To Audit Available Fields Tools Degree of Accuracy
Google Run a report on an SEO research tool for search ads. The creative, budget, quantity of ads, keywords targeted SemRush, Spyfu, Ahrefs Maximum
Facebook Search for said company’s primary Facebook page in theofficial FB ad library, or through The Ad creative Facebook, PowerAdSpy, WhatRunsWhere Low

Search Ads

The first major type of online advertising is search. There are a few networks (Bing, Yahoo) but unless you are selling pornography or gambling products (i.e scams) you can ignore them.

You seem these every day, and you click on them every day. Actually, Google is becoming so much a pay-to-play service that these are higher up than the organic results! This means more screen real estate and consequently more clicks.

Sometimes it makes sense to go straight to a keyword search; we do it to test our brand-based ads all the time; but whether the given ad appears is based on their bid strategy and targeting, which could be for certain demographics or locations on top of the keyword itself.

What Data To Look For

You will eventually want more data from Google but we will eventually run through that in the organic chapter.

Display Ads

The second major type of online advertising are display ads. When we talk about Native Advertising, we are referring both to social ads you see on major networks, and the “banner” ads you typically see in various online publications.

The difference between these and search is that you are not putting a bid on some random piece of real estate – you are putting a bid on an audience; whether that be an email list use, your website visitors, or random personal demographics you judge as relevant to your product.

Let’s take FB as example:

Through the ad library, we can see the following info

  • The Creative (type of content) –  the importance of this varies by industry (we’ll do a live walkthrough of various) but the fundamental takeaway here is what your competitors are advertising on it. Two major distinctions exist; content (non-sales) and acquisition (ads for email, appointment booking, signup, and downloads) – if they are doing overwhelmingly the former, you can assume that they’ve found it very hard to convert users quickly and have a longer funnel.
  • The Creative (copy/image) – the second key piece to observe is more subtle. I.e you want to look for themes in the images; are they infographics, solid pictures – which CTAs are they using? Do they use active or passive voice for their copy? Do they talk about certain features over others?

You need to make notes of all these items and have to consider the full platform in its entirety; how long were they running these ads for? How many? If there is only a few, that data is insigificant and you can ignore. Sites like PowerAdspy will let you view historical ads – this is even more important because you can observe if they stopped running any of the aforementioned variables.

  • Targeting: Age, gender, and location are a very small portion of targeting on Facebook; job titles, interests, and behavior are much more important and much more complex. That being said, in broad strokes, if you notice a trend in demographic targeting, it’s good to follow; always observe critically (i.e if the company is in a certain state and advertise there, don’t start advertising for that reason)
  • Budget: This is an extremely important piece of information but not always accurate – that being said, you should use the relative size of the number to plan your budget. Divide by the time they’ve been running to find the monthly numbers; this is what’s actually important. On top of that, divide by the ad sets  – the different types of ad’s they are running. Now you’ll have your individual campaign budgets to begin with.

Note: Beyond FB, Google Display Ads is the next larger platform. SEMRush will show you this info; it’s less so cold ads (demographic targeting) and more remarketing – so less useful.

The Outcome

Advertising on any platform (Facebook, Google etc) is a complicated art. It is not something that is worth teaching in this course; and in general, it’s very hard to teach without you doing it yourself, playing with real dollars.

We recommend Google’s Courses and Facebook’s courses directly, but realistically, if you don’t have a solid 100 hours to commit and a few accounts to test on, it’s not worth it. There are plenty of certified professionals on Upwork for low prices, and we recommend hiring them directly for each individual ad-platform you use.

Leave a Reply