The Top 5 Mistakes 99% of Paid Media Teams Make

Unhappy woman, part of a paid media team, sitting at a laptop, facepalming with frustration, surrounded by unhappy emojis and a "#fail"

In the right hands, paid media can be a powerful tool to grow new brands and reinvent the ones we all know and love. But even the best talent cannot deliver results without the proper tools. As the paid media mix evolves, generating actionable insights can be the difference between winning new business and losing your edge. These are the top 5 mistakes many media teams are still making – for brand and agency environments alike.

1. Interpreting attributed revenue reports from native channels as actual revenue

It’s not news that data attribution models in general are prone to disputes, certainly when it comes to attribution of revenue to paid media campaigns. Still, it is tempting to read figures presented by native tools at face value. The challenge is even greater when reports generated by owned media tools (e.g. Google Analytics) present media teams with stark discrepancies. Revenue attribution is a derived insight that varies across platforms and depends on multiple factors. A good rule of thumb is to measure change in revenue attribution over time rather than absolute value

2. Assuming Facebook and Instagram are the only paid media networks in town

While Facebook tends to be the default network attracting the bulk of ad spend, there is no reason to assume it’s good business practice. Networks that have been traditionally perceived as niche are quickly gaining traction. In 2020, Tiktok ad revenue reached $34 billion (yes with a B). That’s nearly triple the $3.72B ad revenue that Twitter generated in the same year. With similar ad revenue levels hidden in Microsoft’s balance sheets, LinkedIn is too easily discounted as an advertising channel. Many brands and agency teams are pioneering new strategies thanks to the network’s higher level of trust and integrity associated with business conversations. 

3. Banking on impulse buyers with digital ads at the bottom of funnel

With paid media teams focused on performance within a single network, it’s easy to divert the bulk of ad spend to the bottom of the funnel. If you’re selling a low cost product or service that would support an impulse buy, then a “buy now” call to action certainly makes sense. However, in a multi network world driven by varied buying cycles that could last months, consumers aren’t always ready for that kind of commitment. Think of it as popping that big question on the first date. Isn’t it a better idea to get to know each other better before jumping into something you may regret? Not to suggest that there’s anything wrong with acting on impulse – it’s just not for everyone.

4. Keeping physical touchpoints out of the digital mix

While lockdowns and social isolation have certainly increased the impact of digital channels, physical touchpoints remain important for many market segments. The global pandemic is likely to transform business culture for years to come, but the human need to interact face to face is here to stay. That means striking the proper balance between digital and physical touchpoints, and integrating flexibility into the mix. For some businesses, healthcare restrictions simply require a slight change in process. For others, entire campaigns may need to be reframed. Regardless of where your business is on the spectrum, this  physical-to-digital hybrid balance also known as “Phygital” is emerging as a defining theme.

5. Managing paid media reporting manually using offline spreadsheet tools

The most aggravating blunder most media teams are still struggling to overcome is process. The traditional approach to multi network paid media reporting tends to favor free manual spreadsheet tools such as Excel or Google sheets. Once media teams exceed a given threshold of ad spend and media networks, that approach becomes a critical barrier to success. At best, any competitor who adopts a dedicated platform to manage paid media will outperform your team. At worst, your media team will fail to hit targets. The sooner you provide your paid media team with the tools to succeed, the easier it will be for you to keep your employees, managers, and customers happy.




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