From paid social posts to Google ads, paid media today is everywhere. In its simplest terms, paid media refers to paid promotional content or advertising on a third-party platform. The content, which can take any form—articles, videos, adverts, promotions, etc.—is designed to promote and advertise a company. It’s then placed on external channels or plugged by unconnected third-parties in return for a fee. Paid media includes sponsored content like guest posts, hiring influencers to highlight a product or service, paid banners or display ads, automated ad placements, billboards, and social media adverts, to name a few. Integrating paid media is generally mandatory when setting up a marketing campaign, because failing to do so will hamper your reach and ability to target your key demographics.
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“Paid media is the most direct method of promoting your business content and providing exposure for your business,” said Andrei Vasilescu, CEO of DontPayFull. “This method ensures that your relevant promotional content surfaces in front of exactly the audience most likely to purchase from your business.”
Paid media, in one form or other, owns a significant share of each level of the marketing funnel—from branded content people find on the internet, to the ad click that converts them.
“For business-to-consumer models, click ads play a major part on the lower levels of the funnel: to re-target prospects on cross-channel platforms enough to convert them,” said Nathan Sebastian, a content marketing expert at GoodFirms. “For business-to-business models, paid content and ads are much more valuable at the upper levels, where customers are made aware of the existence of a product or service.”
There are several varieties of paid media options used by social media platforms. These include Google Ads, Carousel ads, Dynamic Product Ads (DPAs), and Pay Per Click (PPC) ads.
Amy Basta, director of media & analytics at Planit, noted that paid media has evolved a great deal over the past few years with many new channels now needing to be considered, such as over the top and conventional television, digital audio/podcasts, Amazon, and new social platforms and units.
“Beyond the channels, the importance of data has really come to the forefront,” she said. “We are leveraging new data sources with partners to not only target digitally, but traditionally as well.”
For example, aggregators can layer on digital targeting to find a more precise target for out of home advertising, while research partners are allowing media planners to download mobile IDs to target on social platforms and even within the CTV space.
“The amount of time spent managing paid media campaigns is likely to become less as AI helps in daily optimizations,” Basta says. “In 2019, you have to be a more nimble, cross-functional, digital-minded media planner to really deliver a well-rounded paid media plan.”
Making it Valuable
Hollie Grave, paid media director at digital marketing agency Banc, said that an effective paid media strategy often works backwards, by first identifying the environment where a conversion takes place.
“By effectively optimizing a sales page or creating a platform for a customer to take the next step, a paid media team can create a streamlined process and reduce the chance that customers will opt out of a purchase,” Grave said. “As marketers, we must continually challenge the true return of paid media by understanding the different routes and influences a customer may take before converting. Swapping devices or hearing and seeing other media both offline and online can create complicated paths. Having an appreciation for this helps us form intelligent and impactful online paid media campaigns that complement the bigger picture.”
A major benefit of paid media is immediate results, as one can create the ads and start drawing traffic right away. However, Tim Brown, owner of the Hook Agency, noted that you can pay way too much for far too little traffic if a company isn’t careful.
“Most of the time you pay by click, and if your ads aren’t set up right, people will click and bounce, costing you money with no won business,” he said. “The best paid media strategies are paired with an organic approach. Building up your own social account while paying for ads on that same platform allows you to retain some value from your paid ads expense.”
Insane Growth’s head of marketing, Jonathan Chan, said that a common struggle for many brands is sustaining a level of interest in content after it’s been published.
“With paid media, you can create very basic ads—such as sponsored posts on Facebook—to continuously drive traffic to your site,” he said. “From there, using the article itself as a lead magnet, brands can further lower the cost of their PPC campaigns to target users who have spent a certain amount of time on the article with an actual advertisement.”
Beyond that, paid media can significantly scale up virtually every part of the inbound marketing process, from running A/B tests to sales pages and improving SEO. When used correctly, paid media has the power to drastically increase your inbound marketing ROI.
“Paid media is an effective opportunity to expand brand reach, drive awareness, and generate more traffic, sales, and leads,” said Mike Street, a paid media expert who has managed more than $15 million in media spend for brands like ReceiptPal, AARP, and Lull. “While many clients don’t have a paid media strategy in place, they are missing out on a cost-effective and highly trackable means of connecting with their target audience.”