5 Deadly Ad Buying Mistakes

badge-guest-post-FLATTEROver the past year, there has been a lot of venom thrown at display ads: people are saying that they don’t work on desktop and that they won’t work on mobile devices. Even the creators of display ads are piling on the hate.

Although display advertising has room for improvement, there are many people who see its effectiveness, as evident by the fact that display advertising made up a large chunk of the nearly £5.5 billion the UK spent on online advertising last year. And while everyone pines for a silver bullet that will fix or replace display advertising, it’s worth noting that there’s one big thing that we can fix: human error.

Let’s take a look at five mistakes that are killing many of today’s display advertising campaigns.

1) Purchasing Media, Not an Audience

If you’re trying to reach 18-30 year-old males, it can be easy to say, “Lots of lads read Vice, let’s take over their homepage and call it a day.”

That’s an easy answer, but it isn’t an efficient one. In the modern digital era, it’s like having a sniper rifle at your disposal but opting for a musket instead. After all, the current capabilities of the display industry allow you to buy the exact audience that you want to reach.

At the heart of those capabilities are programmatic marketing and real-time bidding, which allow you to reach the users on the Internet that are valuable to you: people who previously visited your site without converting; people who have searched for a relevant term on Google; or people who have visited many different sites that align perfectly with your brand.

If you want to waste money, buy media. If you want to make money, target the right people.

2) Analyzing the Wrong Metrics

Many marketers remain obsessed with the C-suite of metrics: CPM, CPC, CTR, CPV, and CPA. But all of those metrics are merely cost-based metrics—all they tell you is how much different components or outcomes in a campaign cost.

While you need those to calculate ROI, you also need metrics that help you understand where your customers are in the sales funnel. Once you understand the customer’s journey to a conversion, you can optimize your campaign on the fly to deliver what your customers need. That’s possibly the biggest advantage of online advertising over million-dollar TV spots.

Whenever my company, Chango, runs a campaign to drive potential customers to our website, we weigh each customer action to create an Outcome Index that allows us to comprehensively assess our campaign on the fly.

3) Putting All Your Eggs In One (Very Expensive) Basket

When it comes to buying media and ignoring audiences, the worst offenders are those who buy media in a place that services a very broad audience. They’re the ones who spend £300,000 to buy a one-day homepage takeover on Yahoo!, making a high-risk, low-reward bet that the right people will stumble upon their ad.

Instead, just serve the right ads to the right people through programmatic marketing. Your ROI will skyrocket.

4)  Plugging Holes With Money

All too often, I see marketers pouring money into a display campaign that was once successful, but has since run its course and plateaued. Or I see them paying over £40 a click for overpriced keywords in an SEM campaign.

Ignore the plethora of data and analysis that have graced display marketing over the years at your own peril. When you encounter a problem, solve it with refined data, not cash.

5)   Sticking to a Single Creative

Display advertising isn’t monogamous—you don’t have to stick to one ad.

In fact, in almost every case, you should not. In this age, you can easily test several different types of creative to determine what works best in each environment through a process called A/B testing. The beauty is that you can test different combinations of ads and then mix the perfect creative cocktail.

Are you falling prey to these deadly advertising mistakes? How do you overcome ad buying disasters?

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