Seven Ways to Boost Campaign Performance

You may have heard me say this before, but I’ll say it again: when it comes to online media, always say it’s a branding campaign until the client looks at the report.

What I mean by this is, of course, it’s a branding campaign. But short of an awareness study, clients (and we agency people) are trained to judge the success of an optimization campaign by a narrow set of KPIs (define) — basically impressions, clicks, CPCs (define), actions, and CPAs (define).

While home page buyouts and premium real estate get you the high-visibility placements, they’re more often than not very expensive from a CPM (define) standpoint. As a result, they typically have very high CPC and CPA stats. When a client sees those stats on a report, the placement’s branding value often goes out the window.

We try to break campaigns into two placement categories and average out the results on the report’s top line. That way we get high-visibility real estate coupled with very low-cost/high-volume placements. When these are averaged out on the top line, they create top-line success stories on the property and campaign level using traditional online performance metrics. Often, a lot of the low-cost placements are value-added, so they come with a zero cost and further decrease the average CMP, CPC, and CPA rates.

Here are some things to ask for, in addition to your premium placements, that will lower your KPIs’ costs and boost overall campaign performance:

  • Buttons and text links. Never underestimate the power of these little gems. Often the banner makes the high-profile impressions, but these little calls to action get the clicks. Also, sometimes they’re in fixed placements at the bottom or side of the property’s pages, so you get millions and million of impressions from them.

  • Standard text links. Again, don’t underestimate what can be done with a simple text link. Try to build in a call to action in the copy that encourages clicks. Typically, you get up to 65 characters for a link. Take a Google Haiku approach (pretend you’re writing a Google ad). Remember, people want to know what you have for them right now.
  • Advertorials. These are great placements for getting noticed by consumers who tend to ignore ads. And publishers will often scatter a bunch of links around the site promoting the advertorial.
  • Behavioral targeting. If you can’t get in Yahoo Autos, get people in Yahoo Mail who’ve visited the car section in the last 24 hours. It’s the next best thing and can be a lot cheaper.
  • Google AdWords placement targeting. Look for text ads on a site to see if it participates in AdSense or another program. If you notice text ads, use Google AdWords placement targeting to specifically target sites you’d like to appear on from the Google content network. Don’t underestimate the power of these text ads either, especially when they complement your banners. Even though the money may go to Google, be sure to make it part of the site buy budget.
  • Newsletter sponsorships. Bravo on these oldies but goodies! They’re often sold out and aren’t that cheap. We find that more often than not, text sponsorships in the body of the e-mail work very well.
  • Peaks and valleys. Try maintaining a presence with a wide range of inexpensive placements and coming out with bursts (one week on, one week off) of expensive placements. It’s interesting to see what happens to the inexpensive placements’ click levels during that time. They often go down, but for sure the clicks still come in. Sometimes the drop off isn’t as dramatic as you might think. This also allows you to maintain a much longer presence on a property and stretch budgets that are always too small.

This isn’t a list of all the goodies a site may have to offer, so be sure to ask your rep, “What else do you have?” The more you can weave your ads and calls to action into a site, the better your KPIs will do.

Of course, this approach requires a lot of flexibility and granular thinking for executing creative. It’s hard enough doing all the banner sizes for a few concepts with just IAB standard sizes. With this approach, you break the mold. In some cases, you have to have small-space placements that integrate with all your banners from a branding and messaging level.

On your next buy, look at all your options. Don’t shy away from the little placements that can make a big difference!

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