Glossier customers rave about their products, their brand is on point, and they foster a loyal community through social media. The result is a well-loved beauty business with a dedicated, organic following.
But there’s much more to their marketing strategy than meets the eye. Even brands with a solid fan base pay to reach new customers and grow their market share.
Paid media can help make that happen. It works by exchanging dollars for attention and can be an efficient way to increase brand awareness and boost sales. It can offer a direct route from where your business is today to where you hope to take it.
What is paid media?
Paid media is media exposure you buy from an individual, platform, or publication. Advertisements are a common type of paid placement: Businesses buy ad space from an advertising vendor to reach a specific business goal, such as raising brand awareness or increasing sales revenue. Paid media can also include other types of paid promotions, such as branded content, sponsored blog posts, and influencer product reviews.
How can paid media benefit your business?
Paid media can help you efficiently increase brand awareness, target certain audience segments, and boost sales. Many businesses treat it as an essential component of their digital strategies. Here are some of the ways investing in paid placements can help your business reach its goals:
- Increase brand awareness. Paid media can quickly spread the word about your products or services.
- Reach specific audiences. Well-crafted digital advertising strategies can help you reach specific target audiences. You can base these audiences on demographic factors or behavioral triggers, such as visiting a certain website or clicking on a specific link.
- Increase sales. Paid ads direct traffic to your online store, which can contribute to revenue growth.
5 types of paid media
- Social media advertising
- Search engine advertising
- Display advertising
- Influencer marketing
- Traditional advertising
1. Social media advertising
Social media advertising allows businesses to pay social media channels to distribute content to target audiences. All major social media platforms offer some type of social media ad, and many sell multiple ad types. A few examples include:
- Promoted tweets. You can pay Twitter to boost your tweets to a larger audience. You can promote text-only, photo, or video tweets.
- Instagram Stories ads. Organic Instagram Stories are vertical, full-screen photos and videos that disappear after 24 hours. You can pay Instagram to expose your Stories to a wider audience and keep them running longer.
- Instagram Carousel ads. Instagram Carousels are posts that feature multiple photos and/or videos. They’re a popular sponsored post format because you can promote multiple products or services in one ad.
- Boosted Facebook posts. You can pay Facebook to boost your posts, videos, and events to a targeted audience.
2. Search engine advertising
Search ads are any ad that appears on a search engine results page (SERP). One common type of search engine ad is pay-per-click (PPC), in which you only pay the publisher for every click the ad gets. For example, Google Ads sells PPC ad space on Google’s search results pages. SERPs surface ads based on keywords in user searches but only charge you if a user clicks on the ad.
3. Display advertising
Display advertising is a popular digital advertising strategy. It includes most of the ads you see on websites, including pop-ups, banner ads, and video ads. Businesses can use display ads to target customers based on specific behaviors. For example, if you’ve ever been stalked across the internet by a pair of shoes you're trying not to buy, you’ve experienced the power of display ad retargeting.
4. Influencer marketing
Influencer marketing involves paying a content creator to make and distribute sponsored content that promotes your products or services. It can include sponsored social media posts, sponsored blog posts, or mentions of endorsements of your brand. Businesses can also pay for the right to publish guest posts on an influencer’s blog. In this case, you write or provide your own content, the influencer publishes it under your company name, and they include a link back to your site in the final post.
5. Traditional advertising
Print ads, billboard ads, radio ads, and broadcast commercials are all examples of traditional paid media. Although it tends to be less popular than digital advertising, you might consider it for a location-based promotion, like the opening of a new brick-and-mortar store.
How is paid media different from earned and owned media?
There are three types of media: paid, earned, and owned. Here’s how to tell the difference:
- Paid media. Paid media is ad space you’ve paid for. Your brand pays money in exchange for promotion on a particular channel.
- Owned media. This is any coverage on your brand’s publication channels, such as your website, blog, social media accounts, or newsletter.
- Earned media. Earned media is any publicity or exposure that your company didn’t purchase or publish itself. It can include press coverage, positive online reviews, and social media chatter.
How to set a paid media strategy for your business
- Set a budget
- Identify target audiences and goals
- Choose your distribution channels
- Purchase ad space
- Develop creative and manage your campaigns
- Monitor metrics and adjust strategy
1. Set a budget
Evaluate your available marketing budget and determine how much money you have to spend on your paid media marketing campaigns. Consider the cost of ad space, the time required to vet and communicate with the vendors, and the cost of producing an ad yourself or hiring an ad agency to do it for you.
2. Identify target audiences and goals
Revisit your overall target audiences and marketing goals to set objectives for the campaign. Factor in your available budget, your business priorities, and the benefits paid media offers.
For example, if two of your most pressing marketing goals are increasing customer loyalty and brand awareness, you might opt to buy ad space, as it is an efficient way to reach new audiences and build brand awareness.
Once you’ve identified your objectives, set specific, budget-attainable targets for each one. Don’t be tempted to skip this step if you’re not sure what kind of results you’ll be able to achieve. Setting measurable goals can help you learn from your results, even if you don’t reach them.
3. Choose your distribution channels
Use your target audience information and available media types to select a paid media channel. For example, if your goal is to use an inspiring product video to catch your audience’s attention, you can skip search engine advertising—PPC ads are text only. Social media or display advertising is a better option.
Consider where your audience will be. If your target audience is people over 65 who are visiting Denver, Colorado, you might consider traditional advertising options, like purchasing billboard space on the drive out of the airport.
4. Purchase ad space
The next phase involves actually buying ad space, a multi-step process known as media buying. You’ll develop a list of target vendors, send requests for proposals (RFPs), evaluate responses, and purchase ad space. For social media, you can likely look up the rates and reach yourself, using a business account.
5. Develop creative and manage your campaigns
As soon as you sign a contract, be sure to put ad run dates, due dates, and metric reporting dates on your calendar. Then develop your ads and deliver your creative to the ad vendors. If you are using social media, you may choose to create and upload the ads yourself.
6. Monitor metrics and adjust strategy
Once your ads are running, monitor metrics to gauge performance. If an ad is underperforming, you can compare it to more successful ads in your campaign and look for meaningful differences in content type or distribution method. You can also lean on the ad vendor for help. Ad vendors have extensive experience managing paid media campaigns and may be able to share valuable insights.
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Paid media FAQ
How much should you budget for paid media advertising?
No hard-and-fast rule identifies how much of your marketing budget you should spend on paid media. The average business spends just 1% of its total revenues on advertising, but business-to-consumer (B2C) companies that sell products spend just under 10% of their revenue on marketing on average. Compare the cost of your paid media to its return on investment (ROI) to assess its success and plan additional campaigns. If you’re earning a high ROI on your paid media spend, consider allocating more money to this tactic.
How do you choose the right platform for your paid media campaign?
Your target audiences and media types can help you choose a paid media channel. Choose a platform that’s popular with your campaign’s target audiences, and choose a platform that effectively displays your chosen media type.
How can you ensure that your target audience sees your paid media ad?
Some paid media channels (including social media platforms, search engines, and some display ad placement services) allow businesses to serve ads to specific target audience segments based on customer demographics and behavioral data. Select a distribution channel that is popular with your target audience and ask vendors about additional audience information or advanced targeting options.