How to Run an Online Advertising Investment Analysis

How to Run an Online Advertising Investment Analysis

Seasoned Digital Media Buyers know how important it is to regularly evaluate the results of their online advertising campaigns, but many online marketers still haven’t figured out quite how to conduct a comprehensive advertising investment analysis that surfaces valuable insights for improving the results of their campaigns.

And with an explosion in the abundance of digital marketing channels and data assets available to modern marketers, online advertising has become more complicated than ever before, but the way to set yourself ahead of the pack and generate better results compared to your competitors is to utilize online advertising investment analyses to guide your marketing decisions.

An advertising investment analysis is the process used to evaluate how well the online advertising you’re running, and any ads or media bought on your behalf by vendors and media-buying agencies, is actually working to produce a positive return on investment (ROI).

This analysis includes not only verifying media placement and delivery, but also diving into a range of statistics and analytics to gain insights on your entire digital marketing performance funnel, from initial impression to conversion, allowing you to identify insights about how to alter your strategy to improve performance.

Whether you’re an Online Advertising Manager, a Digital Account Coordinater or a Digital Account Executive, this article will help you understand exactly why it’s so important to start running a regular online advertising analysis to evaluate your marketing results, and it will also provide insights about how you should go about conducting your review for each individual digital channel.

What is the Purpose of an Advertising Investment Analysis?

This process will determine whether or not your digital strategy is working, and it will allow you to better understand which channels, strategies and tactics are truly most effective.

Running the advertising analysis is especially important if you think your campaigns may underperforming when compared to industry benchmarks, or if you have a suspicion that one or more channels you’re utilizing aren’t working as well as they should, or as well as the others you’re running.

Understanding when, where and how your marketing channels are functioning not only helps to increase the quality of inventory and media placements you end up purchasing, but also enables you to reap better results by optimizing how your dollars are spent.  

Therefore, conducting the digital advertising analysis is crucial for any business with an online presence, regardless of the industry you are operating in.

What Does an Advertising Analysis Include?

Running an advertising analysis is all about understanding how effectively your marketing spends are turning into revenues.

The objective of this process is to determine your return on investment, by channel, so that you can improve your media dollar allocations to drive additional ROI.

Accordingly, you’ll need to look at effective of each individual advertising channel you’re utilizing to understand how well they’re working at turning impressions into conversions.

At minimum, we suggest evaluating:

Display Advertising

The display advertising review makes it possible to determine how profitable your current display campaigns are.

This review should help you determine which products to advertise, where to place those advertisements, the creative to use for them, and any updates your landing pages need to improve conversion rates.

Programmatic Marketing

The programmatic marketing review helps Programmatic Traders understand how well their campaigns are performing.

During this review, you’ll need to look at how you optimize your predefined bid rules and identify areas of friction where you may be struggling to allocate spends properly, including reviewing your bid management strategy, media placements, and especially your creatives and landing pages.

One of the most important things to do here will be to look at landing page conversion rates, and to begin testing design, creative and content updates that allow you to squeeze better performance out of your existing programmatic campaigns.

Organic Search (SEO)

If you’re running SEO, either yourself, or using an SEO Specialist, you’ll definitely want to include reviewing this channel as part of your online advertising analysis, because it’s important to understand what value SEO is actually providing for your brand. Many SEO campaigns successfully improve keyword rankings and generate more traffic, but that doesn’t always convert into actual revenue.

Keep in mind that this is one of the more difficult channels to evaluate ROI in, but that you’ll certainly want to get at least a rough idea of the ROI for all the hours and time dedicated to SEO efforts by reviewing time/cost spent here compared to the value of organic conversions SEO is generating.

Make sure to find a way to eliminate your branded searches from the SEO ROI calculation, however, because if your SEO campaigns end up taking credit for traditional marketing (like TV, Radio, etc.), then you won’t get a good idea of actual performance.

Email Marketing

Almost all brands run email marketing these days, but it’s important for Email Marketing Specialists to make sure that their email campaigns is actually working, and by working, we mean generating a positive return on investment.

The nice thing about emailing is that it’s relatively inexpensive, especially if you’ve developed your own first-party list, and aren’t buying lists from other sources, but it’s still important to evaluate performance metrics like open rates, click-through rates and conversions to determine your overall ROI.

Paid Search (PPC)

PPC can be incredibly effective, or incredibly expensive, and it’s vital that you review your results to determine just how well it’s working in your case.

Whether you are PPC Specialist yourself, or you’re simply overseeing or employing a third party to do the PPC work on your behalf, you would be foolish not to conduct a comprehensive online advertising analysis on the results of your PPC efforts. Why? Because PPC is one of the easiest Channels to calculate ROI on, since Google offers so much technology for quickly determining spend vs revenue.

To find out how well PPC is performing, make sure to look at both Google Ads and Bing Ads performance, as well as any other PPC platforms you’re operating on (oftentimes, Paid Social Media will be lumped into “PPC” performance).

You’ll need to review impressions, click-through rates, cost per action and cost per lead or sale to see what the ROI looks like for each platform, ad group, and ideally, on an individual product, service or even ad group and keyword level. Why get so detailed? Because you can, and easily! Unlike the other Inbound Marketing Specialists, PPC Managers have access to all this data, and more, so make sure to take advantage of it!

This is another channel where a comprehensive review of landing pages and landing page conversion rates will be critical to understanding performance.

Social Media Audit

Almost everyone runs Social Media now, but is your campaign actually generating any real-world business value, or is it just creating empty impressions? Maybe your efforts could be better spent elsewhere?

If you’re employing Social Media Marketing Specialists, but haven’t really drilled down into their performance and just been accepting their monthly reports as proof of progress, it may be time to rethink that strategy. To be blunt, there may be cheaper ways to generate impressions (like via Display and Programmatic), so if you’ve got a big Social spend, make sure it’s actually generating some value.

To figure this out, you’ll need to look at each channel individually, reviewing Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and any other Social platforms you’re using to calculate an effective ROI. Make sure to treat Organic Social Media and Paid Social Media separately, as they’re really two entirely different strategies.

Affiliate Marketing

If you’re running an affiliate program, it’ll be important to evaluate its progress and success. Unfortunately, our experience has been that

It’s especially important to include a detailed review that seeks to understand if you’re being abused by top affiliates who are leeching sales and commissions that you could cut from the ecosystem to save your additional revenue. Make sure to look for things like coupon scammers stealing last touch attribution, and think about ways to prevent them from skimming from your organically generated sales.

There’s a lot of room for waste and outright fraud in the affiliate space, so looking at your campaigns in detail will be important to determine whether or not it’s time to make any changes to your affiliate strategy.

Multi-Channel Performance

If you haven’t looked at it yet, make sure to incorporate a review of the Google Analytics section on Multi-Channel Funnels to determine how well your channels are working TOGETHER to create conversions, leads and sales.

It’s unlikely that the majority of your conversions are occurring from a single visit, or a single channel, and the reality for many brands is that these channels operate together to generate revenue.

Sometimes it’s easy to spot the channels that are doing a good job of supporting sales, and those generating the actual sales themselves, and once you’ve gotten a handle on this data, you can then adjust your overall marketing strategy to significantly improve performance.

Stop Flying Blind!

So many brands simply run online media in the hopes that it will work, without paying any attention to actually measuring the results of each channel individually, calculating ROI, and adjusting their budget allocation and digital strategies based on real-world performance data.

That’s where the online advertising investment analysis can set you apart from the competition. There’s no better way to build job security than by improving marketing ROI, and with all the data now available to digital marketers, there’s no reason to avoid taking advantage of it.

Even if you aren’t worried about your job security, wouldn’t you like to generate better results and achieve greater ROI with your limited marketing dollars? The first step to accomplishing that objective is running a comprehensive advertising analysis like we’ve outlined above.

We suggest running this analysis at least quarterly to ensure that each channel is maximizing its ROI, and that your general online marketing campaigns are producing as much value as possible for your brand.