How Best to Manage Your Biddable Media Campaigns: 8 Factors to Consider
Developing The Right Biddable Media Strategy
Developing the right biddable media marketing strategy to ensure optimum ROAS (Return on Ad Spend) is not an easy process. Getting biddable media right requires skill and experience within the advertising space, as well as detailed research, planning, testing, accurate tracking, measurement, and iteration. In this context, we are using the term biddable media to cover all the channels that typically allow marketers to pay to advertise on that channel and so we are thinking about paid search like Google Ads and Bing as well as social media platforms like YouTube, Facebook etc.
There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to biddable media and each organisation’s perfect solution will look different to the next. What works depends on a range of factors within the businesses overall marketing strategy, including budget, market, audience, objectives, and competition. However, the right biddable media solution will leverage the resources a business has in the most efficient way to deliver the best possible ROAS while building visibility, engagement, and brand awareness.
This article looks at the various factors to consider in the online advertising space, for organisations planning how best to develop marketing strategy that uses biddable media as an effective conversion and revenue generation channel.
Why an Effective Biddable Media Strategy Requires the Human Touch
You know that getting the best return from your biddable media budget is a skilled job that requires experience, creativity, and expertise. Just setting up the campaigns you think will work, and letting Google make the decisions on bidding, targeting and demographics might seem like the easy way to do things; but don’t forget Google’s primary objective is to get you to spend money. So, allowing the Google Ads system to determine your biddable media marketing strategy and make bid and adjustment decisions for you may not always be the best marketing strategy to achieve optimum ROAS (Return on Ad Spend) or even improved visibility and engagement.
Why AI Can't Replace Your Knowledge
Google Ads doesn’t know your business, or your customers like you do. It doesn’t know the intricacies of their needs, what they search for, or the problems they are looking for your help to solve. While understanding search intent is driven more and more by AI; right now, your biddable media strategy still needs a human element to sense check, refine and adapt according to what you know about who you are targeting.
Without that human touch, it is also not possible to leverage creativity and out of the box thinking to access your target audiences in ways your competitors haven’t yet thought of. By thinking creatively and using deep understanding of your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP), it is often possible to take advantage of lower competition keywords that deliver better budget value for the advertising space, while accessing your target audience via alternative, but relevant searches.
Biddable Media Management Options
Given that human involvement is a necessary factor in delivering optimal results from your biddable media investment, it is important to choose carefully how that human involvement will be resourced. Typically, the choices for most organisations would be between (or a mixture of) the following four options:
1. In-house – Employees of your organisation recruited for their biddable media expertise and dedicated to working exclusively on your organisation’s biddable media accounts.
2. Contractor – Essentially a freelance, independent biddable media expert contracted by your business to work on your biddable media accounts for an agreed amount of time each month.
3. Paid-Only Agency – This is an agency that only delivers biddable media management services.
4. Multi-Specialism Agency – Multi-specialism agencies, such as Innovation Visual, are experts across the spectrum of digital marketing, including biddable media. While there is variation in the specific services offered, they typically deliver a ‘one-stop-shop’ digital marketing service across biddable media, organic search, social media platforms, content etc.
For any business, choosing the right resourcing option will depend heavily on a range of factors including budget, existing internal resource, marketing strategy structure and often, legacy arrangements (contractors or agencies brought onboard in the past and who are still incumbent). However, biddable media is changing fast and so the management strategy developed to leverage it effectively must be flexible, adaptable, and relevant so it can deliver the results and returns your business needs now and in the future.
The 8 Key Factors for Best Practice Biddable Media Management
When you are planning the best way to manage your organisation’s biddable media, there are 8 key factors to think about. Considering each of these 8 factors will help you choose the right management structure and marketing strategy for your biddable media in order to make the most of your existing resource, streamline efficiency and maximise the value of your investment.
Those 8 key factors are:
2. Resource volume & availability
3. Specialist knowledge
4. Use of technology
5. Skills Access
6. Alignment of goals & objectives
7. Strategy & advice
8. Data & reporting
Our first factor for consideration is the cost involved in acquiring biddable media expertise for your business. Our four key options have a cost implication, but what does each involve?
In-house – Unsurprisingly, in-house biddable media teams may not appear to be the most expensive option but do typically have the highest hidden costs. When you consider the cost of recruitment and training as well as the costs of employment that include, but are not limited to salary, pension contributions, National Insurance, equipment and office space, annual leave, sick leave, maternity/paternity leave etc an in-house team suddenly seems quite expensive. You also have to consider continuity of service, for example, if your single, in-house biddable media expert is away on leave for any length of time, there is also the cost of either subbing in a temporary replacement solution or risking loss of revenue while the accounts are unmanaged.
Contractor – With contractors, you have to consider cost versus value. While there are no real hidden costs, a biddable media contractor can be a risk in terms of continuity as outlined above, but also a risk in terms of what they are truly bringing to the table. Ask yourself, are you getting the quality of work, level of skill and depth of experience you need and are they charging for things that a more efficient team could do in a better way to deliver greater results? The key issue for consideration here is the value one contractor can deliver versus that which a team of experts working together can deliver and the cost/benefit of that equation for your business.
Biddable-Only Agency – There is a lot to consider around cost with a biddable media-only agency. Obviously, as costs are based on a percentage of spend, the larger your biddable media budget, the greater your agency fee. However, it is not quite as simply transactional as that. An agency is likely to require a contractual minimum length of engagement as well as a notice period for termination. For biddable-only agencies, this is a valuable way to structure their client relationships because much of the biddable media work, by its nature is front-loaded, meaning after the first few months, there is little to do other than regular maintenance, while still claiming a significant fee as a percentage of spend every month after that.
A report by Search Engine Land in November 2022 shows that CPC (Cost Per Click) has increased for 91% of industries in the 12 months from October 21 to September 22. LocalIQ suggests that the causes for this increase are likely to be inflation, broad keyword matching and competition. The report also highlights a decline in conversion rate, thought to be attributable to broad match keywords attracting less valuable top-of-funnel searches and clicks.
The impact of this for businesses using agencies that charge a percentage of spend is that their budget doesn’t now stretch as far and will deliver fewer conversions, but the agency costs will remain unchanged. If they increase their budget to maintain lead volume, the agency cost increase will also have to be factored in. It’s worth noting that making budget changes to effective campaigns only takes a few minutes and so that increased agency cost really does not represent an increase in effort or time investment.
Multi-specialism Agency – Conversely, using a multi-specialism agency to manage your paid marketing efforts (and potentially other disciplines) really does offer the best of all worlds. Not only does the organisation benefit from a team that delivers a rich blend of skills and experience from across the digital marketing piece, but they also pay a fixed fee based on monthly time investment, to access those skills, which does not alter with their biddable media budget.
There is no cost v. value dilemma because the time investment, reporting, strategy, and team skill set all conflate to deliver the objectives that have been agreed during the strategy development and the agency is responsible for that delivery. The strategy that is implemented has been created with a holistic approach that takes into account the company’s entire digital marketing presence, leveraging value from all resources, enhancing the performance of other areas of focus and optimising conversion at each stage.
2. Resource Volume & Availability
In-house – Given your in-house team are employed, they will obviously provide the greatest volume of resource because they are there all the time. However, while that is useful in busy times (providing there is enough resource in the team to cope), it can be wasteful in terms of investment when things aren’t as busy. While having in-house biddable media resource is useful, it is not a flexible option that allows you to easily adjust the resource to your needs at different times.
Contractor – Biddable media contractors are typically cheaper than in-house resource, so it is possible to get more time and more flexibility for your investment which is useful and allows you to distribute your resource more effectively to match quiet and busy times. However, the downside here is that they are usually freelance individuals, without the back up of a team behind them.
One other point to consider is that as remote working individuals, usually without well-established structure, processes, and reporting, it is not always easy to tell if you are getting your money’s worth from them regardless of how much time is logged.
Biddable-Only Agency – As biddable agencies typically structure their costs on a percentage of spend, i.e., their fee is a set percentage of your biddable media spend budget, they are often the most expensive option in terms of resource cost. They are also, frequently, the option that offers least resource as well. This is because their percentage of spend billing structure does not always equate to a fixed amount of time dedicated to your account during the month. As a result, their costs increase with your spend but there is no defined amount of time dedicated to your account that equates to your investment and this can impact on deliverable objectives over time such as target ROAS and Conversion Rate.
Multi-specialism Agency – While many multi-specialism agencies do charge a percentage of spend, we are concerned with those that do not, as they deliver valuable differentiation from the other options outlined above. With a multi-specialism agency who you pay for a specified amount of time (as opposed to a percentage of spend). This means that not only is your agency not motivated to increase your biddable media spend unnecessarily, but you can also be clear about the amount of time and attention your biddable media accounts will receive every month.
The more effective agencies, such as Innovation Visual, will also allow you to smooth peaks and troughs in demand by flexing your spend across different disciplines to deliver additional value and help you make the most of your investment during both busy and quiet periods.
3. Specialist Knowledge
In-house – It is commonly very hard to recruit the best paid search specialists into in-house roles. That is because the motivated and energetic experts want to enhance and flex their skills across a range of industries and accounts but also prefer to have a team of other paid search specialists around them to learn from and evolve with.
When recruiting for an in-house paid media specialist, it is important to understand the needs of your business. For example, is 2 years’ experience (for example), even agency-side, sufficient to ensure that your biddable media budget is leveraged in the most effective way and that your account is being developed creatively to make the most of competitive gaps and the USPs you offer? Plus, exceptional management of biddable media is a creative and iterative process that is most effectively delivered when there is an experienced team to bounce ideas off and to discuss challenges with.
There is also the challenge of staying up to date, it is far harder to learn, remain informed, well-trained and at the cutting edge of your industry in an in-house, often solo role with few, if any, colleagues to discuss new ideas, technical developments, and technological evolutions with.
Contractor – as with in-house resource, really good biddable media contractors are very hard to find, and the search can be costly, time consuming and even damaging to your business in terms of lost revenue generation from failed attempts. It is true that with biddable media specialists, as with most things, you get what you pay for.
Typically, effective contractors will cost a similar amount per hour as a good multi-specialism agency, but they will not usually also be able to deliver the range of skill and experience you’d get access to from that agency. Nor do they usually have the back-up structure or commitment to ongoing training and knowledge acquisition that agencies more often do.
Biddable-Only Agency – When it comes to biddable-only agencies, you are more likely to get access to the right skills and experience needed to implement biddable media best practices to deliver the results you are looking for. However, it’s important to know who is actually working on your account. Is it the senior exec with 10 years’ experience working on PPC ads in your sector, or the junior with less than 2 years in the workplace?
Also, it is worth bearing in mind that their focus on biddable-only means that they won’t take a holistic view of your digital marketing, adding value across the board in terms of required content, your organic search optimisation and technical SEO, for example.
Multi-specialism Agency - Multi-specialism agencies, as with paid only agencies, are far more likely to attract the best paid search experts, but they also offer the variety of skill and experience from other digital marketing disciplines, that facilitates cross-pollination of ideas and creativity to deliver the truly exceptional end-to-end campaigns. For example, leveraging knowledge of social media platforms, to increase ad placement opportunities.
4. Use of Technology to Advance Your Marketing Strategy
In-house – Great biddable experts use a range of different technologies to create a feedback loop of improvement that rationalises, tests and verifies their strategic planning. However, access to the relevant tools to achieve that can be expensive and require training investment. As a result, the cost of these invaluable platforms, offset against their use for just one organisation, can be prohibitive, and so in-house teams frequently don’t have the access to or training in the use of the platforms and tools that would help them deliver improved results and greater efficiency.
Contractor – Contractors are typically limited with regard to technology in the same way as in-house teams are. While they usually work for more than one business, the cost of access to the right technology, and the investment in training to use them is not commercially viable for most freelance biddable media experts.
Biddable-Only Agency – While biddable agencies would normally provide their teams with all the technology and training they need to deliver the results their clients require, their ‘percentage of spend’ cost structure does not allow for the efficiencies and cost savings the tech delivers to be passed on. However, the quality of results is likely to be improved as a result of access to the relevant technology, over that provided by in-house teams or contractors.
Multi-specialism Agency – Biddable-only and multi-specialism agencies are likely to both leverage the right experience and technology needed to develop an effective and creative biddable media marketing strategy, (for example across paid search, social media platforms and YouTube). However, multi-specialism agencies that charge for time rather than on a percentage of spend basis, are able to pass on the efficiencies, cost-savings and time-savings that the technology delivers, in a way that ‘percentage of spend’ agencies can’t.
5. Skills Access
Digital marketing is a not a discipline that delivers results in isolation. The best results are achieved when every channel, tool and process work together, end to end, to attract, engage and convert the right customers at the right time, in the right cadence and volume.
While in-house, contractor biddable media experts and those from biddable-only agencies are able to deliver expertise in that field, only multi-specialism agency teams can effectively work together with colleagues to incorporate insight and value across the digital marketing sphere to ensure each stage and facet of your target audiences’ journey is optimised for maximum conversion. For example, strategic content experts can spot effective digital ad placement opportunities, enhance paid search landing pages to increase the quality and relevance of the content. UX and CRO experts can ensure those pages and the subsequent pages in your user journeys are all developed with conversion in mind, whilst technical SEO experts ensure that once your paid search traffic lands on your site it can provide the excellent user experience they expect, and so they are engaged, retained, and interacting with your content and your business for longer.
This joined up team experience is what delivers a truly effective paid search strategy that delivers not only ROAS but enhanced and optimised results from start to finish.
6. Alignment of Goals & Objectives
In-house – In terms of goals and alignment, it’s safe to say that the in-house team could realistically be expected to the most effectively aligned option. After all, they are present, part of the team and part of the business, with access to brand and positioning communications as well as in the loop on business changes and development.
Contractor – Diametrically opposed to the in-house team on this factor, contractors are external and can only know what they are told and what they ask. While it is possible for a contractor to achieve good alignment, their focus will be on delivery and time spent across their client base. So, it is unlikely that they will focus on committing ongoing time to achieving and maintaining accurate goal and objective alignment with their entire client base.
Biddable-Only Agency – We’d expect biddable-only and multi-specialism agencies to see goal and objective alignment as part of their service offering, and they would typically (depending on size) have the resource and process in place to achieve that as part of their client management structure. However, it could be said that biddable-only agencies have a mild conflict of interest in terms of maintaining alignment with their clients’ goals and objectives, given that their income is based on percentage of spend. After all, it is in their interests to encourage their client to increase spend, but it will not always be in the client’s best interests to do that.
Multi-specialism Agency – The multi-specialism agency should also see alignment with their clients’ goals and objectives as a crucial element of the working relationship and essential to the development of an effective strategy. However, they differ from the biddable-only agency in several important aspects. Not only that those that charge on time, rather than on percentage of spend, can align properly with the client’s objectives without a conflict of interest over biddable media budget allocation. Their broader skill set, and multi-discipline approach offers them a more omni, 360 degree view of the client’s market position, the target audiences, the challenges, and the opportunities, which are key insights into the development of the right, flexible, biddable media strategy.
7. Marketing Strategy & Advice
Typically, in-house teams are not best positioned to develop objective strategy and deliver strong, unbiased advice. This is because, on the one hand, it is hard to take a clear, uncoloured view of a business from the inside; and on the other, in-house teams can often lack the seniority and strength of voice inside their business for their advice to carry the necessary weight.
It is also worth considering that an in-house team may lack the seniority and experience to deliver sound, knowledgeable and qualified advice. In a similar way, freelance contractors don’t tend to provide the kind of high level, strategic input that is necessary for a clear-sighted, objective assessment of an organisation’s biddable media position and potential, unless they are exceptionally senior and established, and therefore expensive!
Agencies, however, are usually structured to provide effective strategy, data-led advice, and efficient implementation of the right digital advertising space. As with the alignment of goals and objectives above however, biddable-only agencies working on a percentage of spend, will always have a conflict of interest impacting the advice they offer to their clients, because it will always be in their best interests for their client to increase their biddable media spend.
Multi-specialism agencies, that operate time based fee structure, are free from that conflict of interest and so have the skill, experience, and independence to offer clear, accurate, objective advice uncoloured by the factors that weigh on each of the other options.
8. Data & Reporting
Accurate data and reporting are crucial in the planning and measurement of any effective biddable media campaign. After all, if you can’t accurately track how your campaigns perform, you can’t report on it and you can’t extract insights into that performance in order to improve the results it’s generating.
In-house – While it is possible that in-house biddable media teams will include a tracking and reporting expert, it is more likely that responsibility that will fall under the remit of whoever is responsible for the organisation’s website management. Give that those two teams have different priorities, and different platforms to work on, there is the potential for tracking inaccuracies to occur. Without a data expert to catch them, those inaccuracies could significantly impact the way biddable media efforts are reported and how ongoing campaigns are managed as a result. It is also worth considering how accurate data insights are gathered if the data isn't being collected, checked and analysed by a paid search expert
Contractor – As with in-house teams, contractors are unlikely to be able to take responsibility for the accuracy of tracking implementation and reporting in their clients’ businesses. Typically, biddable media contractors are not also website developers and so are likely to have only limited ability in tracking implementation and testing. While client businesses are often reluctant to allow contractors access to make changes to internal systems such as the website and data tracking processes.
Biddable-Only Agency – While biddable-only agencies may well have the data tracking and reporting skills necessary to ensure their efforts are being accurately measured, their focus on only PPC ads throughout biddable media channels can blinker them to the whole picture and limit the completeness of their insight and strategic recommendations as a result.
Multi-specialism Agency – The breadth and depth of the multi-specialism agency insight is invaluable in achieving the right insights from your data. They do not analyse the data from one aspect but assess it from every angle (and channel, for example social media platforms too) to fully understand the cause and effect of the tracked outcomes. It is with this fuller analysis that real change can be made because the challenges and blockers that may sit outside of the biddable media channel can be identified and rectified, clearing the way for greater, measurable impact from biddable media efforts.
It is worth noting here that if multiple agencies/suppliers are involved, each will inevitably analyse data with a bias towards their own efforts, leaving confusion and uncertainty around how results have truly been achieved. A single, multi-specialism, agency has no need to look at the data with anything but impartiality, meaning insights, actions and strategies can be evolved more reliably and perform more effectively.
Choosing The Right Biddable Media Delivery Solution for Your Business
If you are looking at the options for managing biddable media for your business then this article will have given you a great overview of the choices available to you, as well as a lot of food for thought about which option would be best for you.
Where To Start With Your Biddable Media Strategy
Whether you only want help with your biddable media or need a broader based service, choosing a multi-specialism agency will only ever provide your business with greater insight, consistency, access to a greater range of skills and experience as well as better value for your investment.
However, you don’t have to take our word for it. We can prove it. Why not get in touch and we can work with you to discuss how best to manage biddable media that delivers reliable ROAS (Return on Ad Spend) as well as brand value to your business?