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Boost Campaign Planning and Pacing

Learning Objectives

After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:

  • Describe what marketers can achieve by planning and pacing.
  • List the six steps marketers can take to optimize campaigns.

Campaign Optimization in Six Steps

Planning and pacing are essential components of making marketing campaigns effective. They help marketers make data-driven decisions and maximize their media spend. Here are six ways to use planning and pacing to create effective marketing campaigns. 

Step 1: Create a Single Source of Truth

Ever heard the saying, “Too many cooks spoil the broth?” Well, advertising campaign teams often have too many budgets and plans and too many people modifying them. When that happens, information is spread across multiple files in different versions and there’s no single place to collaborate.  

To help centralize plans, foster collaboration, and increase efficiency in the process, marketers should establish one system with the most up-to-date information—a single source of truth. It can be time consuming to find or create the right system, but it pays off in the end when everyone has access to all the information they need. 

Step 2: Use Connected Data

Many media planners don’t take full advantage of their customer data—such as purchase history, events attended, and email offers—when it comes to making decisions about budget allocation. That’s because leveraging data is much easier said than done. It goes beyond just having the data. In order to uncover insights and use them during the media-planning process, the source data must be connected and trustworthy. 

Once media planners are working from a centralized system, they can use analytics tools to help parse through tons of data to find the most relevant insights. For media planners, being able to analyze, gather insights, and make data-driven decisions is priceless. 

Step 3: Drive High-Impact, Low-Budget Programs

It’s easy to get lost in data. Instead of trying to take in all of the details at once or looking to affirm initial assumptions, marketers should focus on finding the biggest opportunities and biggest losses on each end of the performance spectrum. 

Marketers should look for ways to get more impact for less budget. Channels, platforms, campaigns, and creative with low performance and high spend should be reevaluated. Consider focusing more on areas with high performance and low spend. By making these key decisions up front, marketers waste no time honing the most influential parts of their spend. 

Step 4: Connect Planned and Actual Data

Historical data only tells half the story. To get the full picture, marketers need to understand the difference between what ads were planned and what ads were actually shown. For example, a brand might plan to spend $50,000 on search engine ads, but what does that money buy? It depends on a number of factors, like whether people searched for a particular keyword or if another brands’ ad was shown instead. Marketers don’t know the exact impact of their dollar until they have the data for their actual ad spend—things like cost per click, ad impressions, conversions, and so on.

Connecting planned data to actual data is key to effectively managing an advertising budget. But the process of bringing this data together can be complicated—requiring lots of resources and time. This is especially true for teams running hundreds, or even thousands, of media campaigns. And while reconciling planned and actual data can be done manually, resource-savvy marketers turn to dedicated tools that can do the data mining for them (think: media planning software, data management platforms, adtech software, and so on). 

Step 5: Be Prepared to Pivot

Another advantage of having a clear picture of the data—and budget—is that marketers can better pace each stage of a campaign and pivot when necessary. Staying flexible and making real-time changes is critical to keep campaigns on track to reach their goals. 

Identifying any issues midflight—rather than after a campaign—can mean the difference between a successful campaign and a waste of money. But it all requires careful planning and the ability to quickly pivot.

Step 6: Assess Ad Quality

Advertising is an integral part of a marketing campaign, so it’s crucial that marketers identify when the ads they’ve paid for are not being seen or displayed as intended. For example, a customer might never see an ad if it fails to load or if it appears in the wrong place on a website. It can also be problematic if the ad appears next to content that doesn’t align to the brand.

Metrics such as viewability and brand-safe verification allow marketers to better monitor and catch these types of issues. When marketers audit for “wasted spend” (ads that were never seen), they’re able to drive more efficient media campaigns. 

By taking these six steps, marketers deliver meaningful media messages and maximize their budgets. Get ready to put these campaign-boosting steps into action and transform your marketing. 

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