5 Steps to Allocate Ad Budget Effectively

October 30 2017

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Ad budget allocation is a lot like the classic Choose Your Own Adventure books. One wrong turn could end in complete disaster. But, with the right strategy and approach, you could take a very profitable, enjoyable journey.

So, how will you (or your team) allocate advertising budget effectively in 2018? Below are five steps to create an intentional, performance-driven ad budget.

Step 1. Set your SMART goals.  

Before you can start thinking about campaigns, creatives and channels, define (and document) your ad objectives. You may already have objectives for marketing at a larger-scale, but take a moment to determine goals specific to advertising. The most productive goal setting is SMART, meaning: 

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

Goals that meet all of the above criteria leave no room for misinterpretation; your team will have a shared understanding of success. An example of a SMART goal is as follows: Increase marketing qualified lead count for the [NAME] campaign by 10% by the end of Q1 2018.

For more on SMART goals, check out this article from Smart Insights.

Step 2. Prioritize your buyer(s).

With SMART goals in mind, determine which three to five buyers are top priority. Which buyers will help you reach your ad SMART goals, and ultimately, your company’s goals?

This will be crucial when it comes to selecting advertisers. With a shortlist of buyers, you can use ad intelligence to select relevant, targeted outlets. For example, if you’re targeting executives in Financial Services, use Pathmatics to view top sites in that category.

top financial services ad spend

Step 3. Review historical data.

Do a historical analysis of previous campaign performance. Ask questions like: 

  • What channels did we get the best return on?
  • Which sites drove the highest number of impressions (vs. conversions)?
  • Did mobile ads seems to have a greater impact than desktop?
  • Which creatives drew the most impressions and conversions?

Identify what resonated with your audience in the past, and apply these lessons in your new strategy. In Pathmatics, you can generate a full annual report to assess top creatives, top sites, site spend share, and more. 

Step 4. Spy on your competitor’s spend.

Curious to know how your top competitor allocates budget? You can decode their strategy using ad intelligence. Generate a report in Pathmatics to see where your competitor is advertising, how much they’re spending, and on which campaigns they’re promoting most (e.g. top creatives).

Or, do a direct comparison to analyze metrics side-by-side. You’ll gain insight into spend and impression volume, top sites running creatives (or not running creatives) for each brand, as well as a full purchase channel breakdown. Below is an example comparing Netflix and Hulu over the span of a month.

Netflix Hulu ad spend

Step 5. Remain agile.

Once you’ve done your due diligence, take action and start spending that budget. But, keep in mind: advertising demands regular monitoring and maintenance. Your work is not finished upon campaign launch; keep tabs on daily performance and remain agile.

Use ad intelligence to pull daily metrics like impression and spend share—compared to your own benchmark data and compared to competitors. It’s never too late to change direction, or update an existing campaign.

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About Author

Ken Roberts

Ken Roberts has been immersed in marketing and technology for over a decade, merging creative strategies with the latest technology, to bring products together with the people who need them. With degrees in Engineering, Computer Science and an MBA, Ken’s background in product management, marketing, sales, analytics and technology lends to his ability to attack product challenges on multiple levels. Ken began his career developing software solutions for medical records before transitioning to marketing. Ken focused on building marketing departments and operating in-house agencies. Ken’s experience with digital platforms, internet based marketing, lead scoring and business intelligence, and reporting, as well as a keen market understanding, are a welcome addition to Pathmatics, only matched by a leadership philosophy that encourages high creativity and ownership from his team.

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