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Driven by a proliferation of digital advertising providers and unprecedented volume of spend, today's digital media spending landscape is changing rapidly. Marketers need to become more savvy and aware of where their money is going—and how exactly it's being spent.

New laws and policies around privacy and tracking will soon make third-party cookies a thing of the past. Some of the biggest online players have been caught inflating their numbers. And data is showing that up to 74% of total media spend is wasted.

In such a high-paced, volatile environment, it's important for CMOs to be vigilant. Often, CMOs know there's a certain amount of waste in their media spend, but they aren't armed with the tools to do anything about it.

Having the right data analytics around your digital advertising investment can empower your decision-making. Visibility into how your media dollars perform can help you avoid ineffective media campaigns, and also help those campaigns achieve higher conversion rates.

What can leaders do to make sure they see the highest return on their media investments?

Data is changing

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) laws that passed in 2018 regulate how browsers track our online usage. In addition, search organizations such as Google are heeding the culture's demand for more privacy and making moves to ban third-party cookies. The result will likely be a change in how users interact with specific data, how companies target prospects, and how ad campaigns are designed and executed.

Without proving just how effective the data and click captured are, sites can't promise the moon as well as price premium any longer.

Hedge your bets with mixed media modeling

Tracking every dollar spent helps manage budgets, foster transparency, and give insight into campaign performance during a time when every dollar matters. By focusing on mixed media modeling, companies can allocate their spend across the channels that will turn over the highest yield with clicks, site traffic, and conversions.

The programmatic ecosystem (think Google's banners or an ad playing before a YouTube video) is the model that sets the pace in this new environment.

Instead of setting blind KPIs, know which sites you're paying to reach potential customers as well as how ad spend is spread across them.

The data doesn't lie

Mixed media modeling allows you to measure the impact of your spend and the ways various factors contribute to your goal, such as clickthrough rates or conversions.

For example, it can help you analyze the effectiveness of a traditional banner ad on a popular blog––which might yield a high volume of clicks, but doesn't target the right people––versus a more targeted campaign with smaller outlets relevant to your product or service.

If you're running three campaigns—one is doing well, one is doing OK, and another is failing—what are the x-factors? Can you drill down into performance data to get an understanding of what's going wrong?

Seeing real-time data offers the opportunity to help optimize performance and spend, by moving money from the failing campaign to the one that's performing well.

You can also use A/B tests with different messages and tactics for different audience segments; however, the key is knowing how to maximize the effectiveness of dollars spent.

Spend your media budget wisely

Are your campaigns performing at the optimal level? You should set and understand tangible goals.

Ask yourself these questions in relation to how you're engaging in the programmatic ecosystem:

  • Are you spending money in the places with the best possible clickthrough rate?
  • Are you working with quality vendors?
  • Do you have an acceptable ROI percentage in mind?
  • Are you checking data for patterns?
  • What goals are you setting for success?

If you can't answer those questions, then it might be time to consider how Media intelligence can help your business increase the effectiveness of spend and reduce waste.

The specifics of data intelligence matter

Buying media is one thing, but are you capturing that "data exhaust"? Do you have the little nuances of campaign performance, such as how one audience performed over another? Data exhaust shows more than just metrics in the Cloud––it can allow for portability and shareability that can drive decision-making in the long term.

For example, if a brand works with a new agency, it can share its historical data with the agency to give visibility into what's worked in the past and inform what the strategy moving forward looks like.

But, when accessing that performance data, there still might be gaps. That is where visibility into conversion throughout the funnel is critical.

It's important to know what you paid for historically in addition to what you're paying for now to have a realistic point of view for the market landscape; that could be beneficial if you're buying directly from a media provider. Having historical data can put companies in the driver's seat to get the biggest bang for their buck.

Think about stock portfolio management: An expert broker can tell you how the market is moving, when to stay put on something, or when to get out of a position thanks to current performance. If there's a big selloff, a smart investor doesn't want to be left with a stock that's worth pennies when they paid high-dollar for it. Your media spend can be managed according to the same principles.

Using performance and spend data to regularly balance your media mix allows for a realistic look into what's working for the brand for gaining new customers, or at least converting those who were floating around in the sales funnel.

During the pandemic, brands that had the right kind of spend information could have seen deeper into their campaign performances, and made better choices, considering how much time people spent online during that period. Having that type of granular data was likely a game-changer because it offered more transparency into the process of knowing not only whether a site was effective but also whether you should have been paying less based on actual return.

Lean into media intelligence

New kinds of media opportunities are happening all of the time, but those require new strategies. The numbers should inform choices if you're collecting data; that also means campaign optimizations get better and better. Know what you're getting; don't settle for just anything.

The ecosystem is complex, brands know they have to be on it to scale, but they don't understand it most of the time. Media Intelligence helps pull the curtain back.

Most tools in the market look only at vanity metrics. Media Intelligence can provide scenario planning at the campaign level. It helps you know which campaigns are successful and if there are incremental improvements on ROI.

Some marketing teams care about reallocation. They want to move the money into campaigns that are working without lowering the budget. They want to mitigate fraud and waste, but from an informed, data-driven point of view.

Media Intelligence goes beyond just cost and clicks by turning data points into operational intelligence. It can help determine what's working and, more importantly, what's not, so you can stop wasted spending and invest every dollar into the programmatic ecosystem more effectively today and as you plan for the future.

To learn more about how media intelligence can help your company increase dollars spent while getting the visibility that matters, click here.


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Don't just track your marketing spending; truly understand it. PwC's Media Intelligence is a marketing data analytics solution that helps brands gain visibility into the disparate parts of their digital and programmatic media investments.