In our previous blog post, Three Challenges For Increasing Paid Media ROI, we dug into how media transparency, tying paid media marketing activity to business goals, and the lack of in-flight campaign optimization all limit the ability to increase return on ad spend (ROAS). Among these challenges, the need for marketing teams to shift to optimizing campaigns in-flight is arguably the most important, and definitely the most urgent challenge to address when seeking to increase paid media ROI.

Postmortems Are Secondary

Marketing campaign postmortems are still an integral part of the way most marketing organizations operate. Typically, a group of people get together to assess the performance of a campaign and the lessons learned AFTER a campaign is completed, often reviewing a report that was manually cobbled together from a variety of data sources and team members. There’s nothing wrong with this other than the fact that this tends to be the ONLY time when campaign performance is really measured.

We’re not naive by claiming portmotems are dead. It is HARD to put together a consolidated view of all activities that shows the effectiveness of a campaign, thanks to a number of non-trivial challenges that are introduced by the pace and complexity of modern marketing:

  1. Campaign data is highly complex and fragmented
  2. It’s hard to tease apart the campaign specific data from the rest of the marketing data
  3. Campaign execution teams are fragmented
  4. Campaign reporting is typically done manually

Despite these challenges, some major brands (like Visa with their upcoming World Cup promotions) are paving the way by focusing on integrating execution and measurement of campaigns – and holding their agencies accountable.

Time Is Money

As mentioned in the last post, acting on findings after the fact doesn’t optimize your paid media budget. Your team is either wasting a valuable opportunity to scale-up something that is working or wasting valuable advertising dollars if an activation is not working in favor of your goals. The key is to optimize campaign BEFORE all the money is spent.

By automating the measurement of all marketing activities and monitoring their performance regularly, your team can catch early indicators of activity performance and adjust accordingly. As an example, if a particular creative is performing well, it’s obvious to scale that up and perhaps decrease or stop another creative that isn’t resonating as well. Or if display media is showing no impact while another activity is driving sales, should the display portion be paused so those media dollars can be reallocated? Agile marketing organizations, who tightly integrate the execution and measurement of marketing campaigns, optimize spend and get the most out of the media they are paying for.

Start Taking Control of Your Paid Media Dollars

As a modern marketer, you likely have KPIs that your team has set to define success. Here are a few steps to start transitioning into in-flight paid media optimization:

  • Get together with all the campaign stakeholders and decide who owns which KPIs throughout the campaign.
  • Understand what activities can be easily be altered mid-campaign and what cannot. For example, it would be easy to halt one piece of creative and rev up another, but it won’t work to drum up all new creative.
  • Set a schedule throughout the campaign to check in on how the KPIs are performing over time, instead of just measuring after the fact.
    If you are working with agencies, work out who will make decisions and actually execute optimizations.

While using postmortem campaign learnings for your next campaign is valuable, it doesn’t compare to measuring throughout a campaign – and making adjustments – to make sure you are getting the most ROI out of your paid media spend.