Whether you are an influencer, shopper marketer, start-up owner, or just curious about amplifying posts on social media, understanding the potential of an ad can help you get the most out of online advertising. There are a million ways to buy ad space on the internet, but here are a few guiding principles that can help you craft a clear and actionable advertising strategy.
From the day you launch an ad to the last day you spend money on an ad, you have the opportunity to optimize its performance. If your ad isn’t doing well today, don’t get discouraged; you have are plenty of opportunities to turn things around! Optimizing can be as simple as changing some copy in your ad, to being as dramatic as turning an ad off completely. Because we can’t perfectly predict how readers will react to your ads, there will always be an element of trial and error to find the best results for the best cost. Over the course of an ad’s life, you can (and should) adjust the ad to see what your audience responds to the best.
Before discussing the best way to find the best results for your ad, you first have to decide on a goal. The world of Paid Media is vast and it’s easy to get lost amongst the many options. The most popular ways to buy ads are for results like Clicks or Impressions. For example if you want to buy Clicks, you won’t be able to go to a social platform like Facebook and buy clicks for a fixed cost like you would buy a candy bar from a grocery store. Instead, Facebook will charge you a varying Cost Per Click (CPC) rate based on how your ad is performing. If lots of people are naturally interested in your content, that cost will be lower, and if your ad is hard to understand, or just doesn’t resonate with your audience, the CPC will be higher. Making your ad as interesting as possible to your audience (and consequently making your cost lower) is a huge part of Ad Optimization. Beyond CPC, you can design ads to garner Impressions, Page Likes, Engagements, Video Views… The list goes on and on. Do some research and find which ones align with your social media goals!
Once you have a goal and craft your ad, it’s time to start evaluating its performance. Sometimes you will launch an ad and it’ll instantly perform well. Other times, you will launch an ad that falls flat. But how do you know if your ad is doing well? A huge indicator is cost. You don’t want to pay more money than is in your budget, and you don’t want to spend your whole budget on a few very expensive results if you can get more for your money with a few adjustments to your ad.
In addition to evaluating the results that the social platform is charging you for (clicks, impressions, etc.) are you able to identify a return for your brand? Are you seeing blog traffic? Are you seeing more activity on your page? Are you seeing any increases in your business (if applicable)? These questions can help you fine tune your future ad budgets and goals.
Knowing when your ads are doing well is just as important as knowing when your ads aren’t doing well. Even with all the tips and tricks in the world, manipulating ad performance is still not a perfect science. Sometimes people are very excited about say, coffee cake, and will click on several ads with coffee cake content. But other times, those same people will look at coffee cake content and not engage. Do they hate coffee cake now? Are they burned out on coffee cake? Did they interact with coffee cake in the fall, but are less interested now that it’s summer? There are a million questions you can ask yourself about what is going on in your audience’s head, but the fact remains, some ads will just be too expensive to be worth your time and money. Knowing that ‘tough ads’ are part of the game for everyone can help you cut those ads off unsentimentally and help you focus more time and energy into ads that will provide a greater return for you.
Optimizing or changing your ad’s performance for the better, in essence is a process of several small changes to your ads in pursuit of solid results at a reasonable cost. Designing actionable goals around results like clicks or impressions, and then changing your ad little by little to see what works and what doesn’t will help you better understand your social audience. By optimizing ads, you can spend ad dollars with data-driven decisions and craft new content you know your audiences will like. If, however after keeping a close eye on cost and performance, you are not seeing the results you want, being able to turn bad ads off and trying again (either later on, or maybe on another platform) will save you time and money. Now it’s your turn! Happy Optimizing!