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Guide to Paid Media

Jan 15, 2022   |   Paid Media
Paid media providers and networks Milestone Inc

Let’s start out with some data about paid marketing. In 2020, digital ad spending exceeded $151 billion vs $107 billion for traditional advertising, according to emarketer.

Gartner shows a fairly even breakdown between the top 5 categories with Paid Social being the largest when Paid Search was excluded from the set.

Digital Media Spend by Category -, Milestone Inc.

Emarketer reports the largest sellers, where we see the expected titans of search, social, commerce, and software. Verizon at #5 was a bit of a surprise.

Ad Share by Providers -, Milestone Inc.

This table shows which industries are investing the most in digital media.

Ad spend by industry -, Milestone Inc.

Now let’s review the top 10 paid channels and how to use them.

1. Paid Search

Paid search is a targeted and scalable form of web marketing designed to connect your ads with searchers actively seeking what you provide. The smartest paid search marketing campaigns are pay-per-click, or PPC campaigns, and the logic behind them can be summarized simply: you bid for ad placement in a search engine’s sponsored links for keywords related to your business, then you pay the search engine a small fee for each click.

Paid Search -, Milestone Inc.

How does Paid Search work?

Advertisers first need to create a Google Ad account (and/or a Bing account). Then they’ll need to decide which types of search terms they want their ads to show for by creating keywords. Each keyword has a max CPC assigned to it, which is decided by the advertiser (NOTE: the max CPC is not the number that the advertiser will necessarily be charged, but rather a threshold that the cost should not exceed). This allows advertisers to bid higher on keywords that may be worth more to them.

A set of keywords needs to grouped (into an ad group) to direct the user to a specific advertisement and landing page. Google auctions off ad space to advertisers in the Google AdWords auction. During the auction Google ranks advertisers based off of their ad rank, which is determined by their bids and their quality scores. Each auction is different so for one search an advertiser could be in position one on the SERPS and another search the advertiser could fall to position three or four. In order to understand how ad position on the SERPS is determined it’s important to gain a thorough understanding of how the Google Ads auction works.

Display Advertising -, Milestone Inc.

2. Display

Display advertising refers to the process of advertising a product or service through visuals like images and videos on networks of publisher websites such as the Google Display Network and Facebook etc.

How do display ads work?

Display ads are placed on relevant third-party websites in the form of banner, image, and text ads. Display advertising is pretty much a blanket term that includes every visual ad placed on a website, however, it can be divided into three basic categories:

1. Site placement advertising: In this type of display advertising, the advertiser/marketer chooses the website they would like to run their display ads on.
2. Contextual advertising: In this type of display advertising, networks place ads on relevant websites, for example showing an ad for dog food on a pet adoption website.
3. Remarketing: Remarketing display ads appear in front of users who have been on your website or post-click landing page but have left without completing the relevant conversion goal.

Remarketing -, Milestone Inc.

3. Video Ads

Video advertising is promotional content that plays before, during or after streaming content. Some marketing professionals also expand the video advertising definition to include display ads with video content, such as those that start playing when a person puts a mouse cursor over them and native video ads promoted on digital ad networks.

KPIs associated

  • Awareness: Percentage of conversations about the brand, increase in recall or recognition and number of unique views.
  • Traffic: Percentage of new visitors to a site and of people who visit after clicking on a link in a video.
  • Lead generation: Number of conversions, cost per lead on video channels versus non-video channels and overall conversion rate.
  • Purchases: Number of purchases due to a link or a promo code shown in a video ad and the average amount spent.
Paid Guide Audio -, Milestone Inc.

4. Audio

Audio advertising is arguably the most straightforward and easiest to implement. I’ve previously written about trends in the voice industry specifically but audio advertising is a different beast, and it packs quite a punch, especially if you incorporate it in your marketing strategy

As digital advertising trends go, audio advertising fills a pretty big gap in screenless media, enabling more touch points with audiences (particularly Millennials and Gen Z) that brands can’t reach with visual media. From multiple formats like pre-recorded ad creatives and dynamically inserted native ads to sound logos and personalized in-app ads, there are more opportunities than ever for businesses, brands, publishers, and content creators to take advantage and engage and monetize customers from a new angle.

As an advertising format, one huge advantage audio has is the fact it doesn’t require visual stimulation. With attention spans constantly being bombarded with all kinds of content, reaching people on the go is faster and more direct with audio than with any other channels, especially in situations where screen is not an option (driving, working out, commuting, etc.).
Paid Guide Email -, Milestone Inc.

5. Email

Email marketing is when you send a commercial email message to your ‘email subscribers’ — contacts who have signed up to your email list and given express permission to receive email communications from you.

Email marketing is used to inform, drive sales, and build a community around your brand (e.g. with a newsletter).

Modern email marketing has moved away from one-size-fits-all mass mailings and instead focuses on consent, segmentation, and personalization.

Email advertising solves the numerous shortcomings of non-targeted marketing, such as television ads and billboards. With email, the marketer has more control over who sees their messages by using segmentation. You can group customers based on location, demographics, stage in the sales funnel, etc. and send emails targeting their specific needs.

Paid Guide Social -, Milestone Inc.

6. Paid Social

Paid social media is a method of displaying advertisements or sponsored marketing messages on popular social media platforms, and targeting a specific sub-audience. Pay-per-click advertising, branded or influencer-generated content, and display ads are all examples of paid social media.

Every social media channel is different. Twitter offers short-form content, Instagram focuses heavily on visual-based content, Facebook has its own marketplace, and LinkedIn is the home of networking professionals.

More than two billion people use social media every day. The average person spends 135 minutes per day on social networks. Also, the number of small businesses advertising on Facebook has doubled to 50 million in recent months.

Paid social media advertising is very different from traditional outbound advertising. Big data and machine learning allows you to find, target, and reach your audience with ease. Each platform is designed to facilitate the goals of your business, such as brand awareness, lead generation, website traffic, and more.

You can even access the native analytics for insights into how to enhance the performance of your social media advertising campaign.

Amazon PPC -, Milestone Inc.

7. Amazon

“Amazon Advertising”, (formerly Amazon Marketing Services, or AMS), as a search advertising solution for Amazon vendors. Similar to pay-per-click ads on Google, sellers only pay when shoppers click on ads.

Advertisers who want to gain more visibility to their products on Amazon can pay for these positions by bidding on specific keywords, which will lead to higher visibility in the Amazon SERPs. The advertiser will then be charged when a shopper clicks on their ad. You can essentially see Amazon’s advertising platform as the Amazon version of AdWords.

Amazon ads can also appear on individual product pages. For example, when looking at the water bottle below I can see an ad for sunglasses on the far right hand side of the page.

AMS is rapidly growing. In fact, Amazon’s ad revenues are projected to amount to 12.75 billion in 2020, with an impressive 23% growth since 2019

Amazon Advertising could become a core advertising platform for many businesses, as well as a good alternative to Google and Facebook.

8. Local CPC/CPL

A geo-targeted pay-per-click campaign can be a powerful weapon in your digital marketing arsenal. There are two key reasons why local PPC can be highly beneficial and worth the time and effort:

  1. First of all, if you create your ad copy taking into account location-specific aspects (e.g., it may contain location-specific keywords or terms only locals know), it will successfully resonate with your audience. It means your message will be more likely to grab your audience’s attention.
  2. The second point follows on from the first one. If your ad effectively appeals to your users, it will also look better in the eyes of Google. It can help you to improve the quality score of your ad since one of the factors that influences the score is expected clickthrough rate. The higher your quality score, the lower your CPC.

How do you do location targeting optimization in Google Ads?

Google Ads offers a range of excellent options to suit your specific business goals. You can target users by location according to various criteria:

  • Countries. You can target entire countries where you sell your product or service. This method is generally used by large companies that operate in large geographical areas.
  • Areas within a country. With this option, you can target states, cities, or even postal codes. It can be beneficial for businesses that work in a particular area of a country.
  • Multiple locations. You can target a group of locations (up to 1000 locations within one country).
  • Radius of location. You can select a distance radius around a specific location. For example, if you own a brick-and-mortar store or provide delivery to a certain radius around your locale, this strategy can be very beneficial. 

After selecting a campaign in Google Ads, click on the “Settings” tab in the interface and choose the “Locations” section. Click on the “edit” button under locations to set targeting options.

Paid Guide -, Milestone Inc.

What are tips for geo-targeting for smarter local PPC?

The right local PPC strategy can have a significant impact on the success of your business. Any successful advertising campaign requires knowledge, experimentation, and testing, and even small changes can make a big difference. To help you go local and boost your marketing results, we have collected six powerful tips for reaching your target audience.

MORE ON THIS SEMrush Study: Most Expensive States to Advertise In (+ Breakdown by 17 Industries) Post Julia Olennikova

1. Exclude locations where your potential customers will not be

Choosing the right target locations is extremely important, but location exclusion is just as crucial to the success of your campaign. It helps you use your advertising budget wisely by not showing your ads to the wrong audience. Also, it can be an effective way to avoid high ad rates of high demand target location.

The exclusion option in Google Ads enables you to prevent your ads from being shown in certain parts of your targeted areas, for example, a region or a city within a country. For example, your company doesn’t provide services or ship products to a certain city within a larger area, or your business offers a special promotion that is not relevant to a specific region of a targeted country. In such cases, it is worth preventing your ads from being shown to people who will not have access to what you are offering.

2. Include location-specific terms in your ads

Experienced advertisers plan their strategies based on how people are searching for their business. Some users narrow down their search by adding the city or location name to the search query. By including location-specific terms in your ads along with your keywords you can specify your target audience, which may help you remove the unqualified traffic.

You can experiment and use other location terms, like ZIP codes, area codes, tourist destinations, and street names. By adding in location-specific terms, you can target both by geographical location and by search intent. Users who are seeing your geographically relevant ads will be more qualified and, thus, more likely to convert. 

3. Make good use of terms that only locals know

To target local consumers, you need to speak their language. By including words and phrases in your ads that only a local audience knows you can create hyper-local and ultra-relevant messaging. For example, the term “hotdish” is used around the Midwest and refers to a main course that is served in a baking dish, and the word “hoagie” is a word used in Philadelphia for a sub sandwich.

Research to find out what local communities are talking about and how they are doing it. Start leveraging local language and writing ads that perfectly resonate with local consumers.

4. Enable extensions in your ads

Even the smallest detail can have a huge impact on your campaign success. Ad extensions provide benefits to your advertising campaign, but for a local strategy, they are indispensable. The two most popular ad extension types among advertisers are location and call extensions.

  • Location extensions. These ad extensions showcase your business address, phone number, and a map of your location. Be sure that your Google My Business account is accurate, up to date, and is linked to Ad, since location extensions are based on your GMB profile.
  • Call extensions. This type enables you to include a phone number in your ad. When your ads show up, call extensions will provide users with a phone number or a clickable call button (if their device can make calls), so they can call your company directly. You can schedule a phone number to show only during your business hours.

5. Gain local insights to create highly relevant messaging

You may have heard about the service named Google Trends that shows how often a given term is entered into the search engine relative to the total number of searches done on Google over a specific period of time. The tool is primarily used by SEOs and content specialists, however, advertisers can make good use of Google Trends by exploring which locations are most interested in what you are offering. You can view where a particular keyword is most popular by country, city, region, or metro.

Be sure to follow local news, traditional holiday celebrations and other local events, which can spike demand for particular products and services, providing an opportunity to boost sales. These insights will help you create relevant and effective ads that will result in better consumers response.

Once you click on the search tab and start typing your location, you will see a drop-down menu of relevant matches, where you can select the desired location. You can search by country or regions, such as state or province, city, postal code, and even airports. Near each suggested location you will see a number which represents reach — an estimate of how many people in this particular location (or people interested in this location) fit within your targeting settings. The data is based on the number of signed-in users.

also read

Paid Guide Native -, Milestone Inc.

9. Native

Native advertising is the concept of creating ads that are so cohesive with the page content, assimilated into the design, and consistent with the platform behavior that the viewer feels the ad belongs there.

Promoted search results and sponsored social media posts are popular examples of native ads. Both formats provide the same kind of value to users as the organic search results and user-generated social media posts.

As consumers become more resistant to traditional forms of advertising, Fortune 500 brands and consumer startups alike are allocating bigger budgets towards content marketing and non-disruptive ad formats.

Services that require higher involvement from a user, like home renovations, insurance, and real estate also prove effective when advertisers manage to align their efforts with sales teams use native ads. A well-thought native ad campaign can bring more qualified leads than other channels would do.

10. Lists & Leads

When to buy a lead list?

Any online research will tell you not to buy a lead list, and for good reason: They’re risky, costly, and the accuracy of their data is dubious at best. That being said, lead generation still needs to happen, and companies like DiscoverOrg and LeadFuze are thriving in the current market. Comprehensive organic lead generation strategies aren’t always an option, and companies still need to close deals.

How to buy a lead list?

Know who to target

The first (and most important) step in buying a lead list is understanding who you’d like to target. If you purchase a lead list comprised of generic contact information, there is no guarantee that any of the contacts will be interested in your offer. By performing targeting before purchasing a list, you’ll be preemptively eliminating (and not paying for) uninterested leads, thus getting the most “bang for your buck.” If you don’t already have your target market figured out, now is the time to do so. 

A good way to tackle this is to rank your existing customers in terms of favorability, including profitability, acquisition cost, and the amount of time it took to move them through the pipeline. From this list, you can extrapolate more nuanced psychographic and demographic data, which will give you a much clearer idea of which types of companies you’d like to target. A good list vendor will work with you to help you get the specific data you need.

Paid Guide Lead List -, Milestone Inc.

Pay more for a better list

If you’re going to pay for a list of leads, the cost will vary based on several factors:

  • The number of leads
  • Targeted nature of the data (B2Bs in a specific industry may be more expensive than just a general “business” list)
  • The type of data (e.g. just email or other stuff like annual revenue)
  • Accuracy of data (double-verified email, contact is in the same position, etc.)

How to use a lead list?

Seeding a campaign:

Your list is cold. Essentially you’ve got names and contact info within your target market, and that’s it. If your goal is to end up on the email fail list (or the email blacklist), just mash out a template and send it to everyone. If selling to win is your thing (it should be) start the prospect research process before you even think about contacting your list. Each bit of info you gather during your prospect research will bring you closer to your prospect, and closer to winning the deal.

Soft outreach:

Popping up cold in someone’s inbox or answering machine is already a stretch, in terms of sales tactics. Do everything you can to make your offer “soft” and easy to handle. That means sending someone a link to a four-page web form is a no-no.

A better strategy is to try to position yourself as an advisor to your lead by simply sharing information or opening a conversation about a topic related to both of you.

How do you do prospect research?

Consider your list a starting point: not every contact on the list is going to be a viable prospect. In order to maximize your outcomes, you will need to disqualify the leads manually. (Unless you have a CRM that automatically scours 99 different channels for you.)

Check out LinkedIn and company websites to determine if the data on your list is accurate. Is the lead still in the same position with the same employer? Did the company move? Is the email address valid? Even with a purchased list, the goal of your outreach is to form authentic 1:1 relationship, and that starts with getting the details right.

See our our 2022 guides:

Guide to Managing Reviews and Building Business Reputation
Guide to Content Marketing in 2022
Guide to Social Media Marketing in 2022
Local Marketing Guide & Framework
Guide to Video Marketing: Driving Engagement Across Industries
Guide to FAQs and How to Do It Right

We increase acquisition by enhancing digital experience and increasing content visibility. Contact us at [email protected] or call us at 408-200-2211.

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