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What It Is & How to Get Started

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What It Is & How to Get Started

Media buying is an important process for almost any business, with paid online advertising, TV advertising, audio advertising, out-of-home advertising and more being crucial aspects of many multichannel marketing strategies. However, online and offline advertising are far from simple, and digital in particular is getting more challenging every year as a variety of platforms struggle to balance effective targeting with privacy considerations.

In this guide, we’ll explore how media buying works today, its importance, how to overcome challenges, and trends to watch out for.

What Is Media Buying?

Media buying refers to the act of procuring ad space or time. Digital media buying occurs when buyers purchase ad space via online ad networks, social media platforms, or directly from website or podcast owners. Offline media buying occurs when buyers purchase ad space or time with television networks, radio stations, or through out-of-home (OOH), including billboards and digital signage ads.

Media buyers will work to manage advertising budgets and optimize ad performance. They must consider factors such as where the target audience is likely to be, the cost of ads of various placements, and how often ads should run. Typically, media buyers are part of the overall marketing team and work closely with other marketing staff.

Media Buying vs. Media Planning

Media buying is different from media planning, although the same people may be involved in both. Discover a bit more about these two critical advertising tasks and how they go hand-in-hand below.

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Media Planning

Media planning comes before media buying. The role of a media planner is to conduct research and lay out a strategic framework that the media buyer can bring to life. Some components of a strong media plan include:

  • Goals that align the media strategy with the business objectives
  • Definition of KPIs to help measure the performance of media campaigns
  • Information about the audience to help the media buyer better target ad campaigns
  • Budgets for campaigns to help the buyer keep things within scope
  • Information about what channel and partner mix is likely to best support strong campaign performance

It’s important to note that media planning is not a task that takes place in an advertising vacuum. Media planners may also plan other types of marketing, or work closely with teams that are handling social media, email, and content marketing. It’s critical that ad campaigns work seamlessly with these other channels to support overall marketing success.

Media Buying

Once a plan is created, media buyers use various tools to implement the plan. Media buyers are responsible for reviewing the insights provided and boundaries set by the media plan so they know what type of media mix to seek, what audiences the ads are meant to connect with, and how much marketing spend is allowed for each campaign. Much of the value they bring comes through their awareness of the media marketplace, access to unique opportunities, and their skilled negotiation, helping to stretch each advertising dollar for the greatest impact.

Once they understand the plan, media buyers use varied processes to execute it, including leveraging programmatic buys, direct buys, or both. Programmatic and direct buying are covered in greater detail in the section on different media buying methods below.

Why Is Media Buying Important?

The act of media buying is essential if you want to advertise, and advertising is critical for most businesses today. It can be difficult to drive enough organic traffic or engagement to sustain revenue without some advertising efforts. That’s even more true for startups and new product launches, because it can take months for organic efforts such as SEO to have a real impact on traffic and visibility.

Some key reasons to invest in a more strategic media buying effort include:

More informed negotiations

Experienced media buyers keep up with current trends in the industry and are accustomed to leveraging negotiation techniques to get the best deal possible. They will be able to get networks or publishers to agree to added value to enhance the ROI of ad spend, and execute first-to-market opportunities that truly help a brand stand out from the clutter.

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Ability to optimize ad placements

Experienced media buyers have existing relationships and connections within the industry that can help them in securing strong ad placement, and in optimizing campaigns as they evolve. Having deep connections with network partners is critical in continuing to collaborate on what is working (or not) as brands look to hit their KPIs.

Options for cross-channel integrated campaigns

It’s important not to think of your media buys in a silo, instead focusing on the right mix to properly support and amplify each effort.

Example: Let’s assume your brand will be airing their first prime time commercial on Black Friday. You’ve put a lot of time, research and money into producing a TV commercial that captures your brand energy, and it will ideally serve as an introduction of your brand to a whole new audience. You’ve also focused on a new product line you’re launching in the ad, which will be appealing to new and existing customers. Simply put—you’ve put a lot into this commercial, and you want to be sure you get the most from your investment.

Now, imagine your total media buy for this holiday launch included only the commercial ad spot—an expensive one-and-done that you were hoping would be impactful enough to carry the whole campaign. That’s neither realistic nor the best use of your money.

In an integrated media buy, that same messaging would be seen before, during, and after the commercial airs. This might include pre-air social media promotion efforts, encouraging folks to tune into the commercial for an exciting brand announcement. It can also include additional linear and/or Streaming TV buys that run surrounding the airing to build familiarity amongst the audience. Whatever advertising channels you have available can be considered in the media buy from the outset to ensure you have proper supporting media planned and budgeted for.

“For tentpole events especially, it’s important to leverage supporting media on the platform itself, in addition to amplifying the message across all other marketing channels. Getting the message in front of the largest number of people possible is only part of the equation; repeating that same message across other platforms with the right reach and frequency helps make sure that big impression sticks.”

Stefanos Metaxas, EVP, Client Strategy & Analytics, Streaming+ at Tinuiti

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Quality Creative Matters

Showing up in the right places at the right time for the right audiences is important, but it’s not everything. How you show up matters just as much.

We asked Stefanos Metaxas, EVP of Client Strategy & Analytics, Streaming+ at Tinuiti, to provide insight into what our creative process typically looks like…

“Our creative process varies depending on a few key factors. For example, the steps we take for a client who has signed on for our creative services will be different from those we’d take if a client was providing creative work their in-house team produced.

If a client provides us with ready creative, we review it for any straightforward optimization opportunities. We’ll often provide feedback to determine if small edits are possible—such as adding an end card, a logo, or a call to action.

If a client has in-process creative, one of our team members can provide a light review, taking a closer look at the storyboards to ensure everything is buttoned up. Occasionally, we might also submit the creative for approval or prior oversight from the networks themselves if the brand is promoting anything that might impact the networks’ internal review processes. This is rarely required, but a step we proactively take for select industries to ensure our campaigns launch without a hitch when the time comes.

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If a brand is looking for a true creative partner to guide them through every step of the process, we’ve got you covered with our creative services arm.”

How Different Media Buying Methods Work

Media buying might sound like a pretty specific task, but it actually covers a wide range of methods. Some businesses concentrate on programmatic media buying, for example, while others focus more heavily on direct buying and offline media. At Tinuiti we employ a mix of all methods, giving us flexibility in aligning media plans with clients’ business goals.

Programmatic vs. Direct Buys

Programmatic buys are orchestrated with help from automated technical tools. Artificial intelligence is used to create programmatic advertising buying decisions that conduct real-time bidding at a pace and scale that is impossible to maintain manually.

Typically, these processes are run based on algorithms that match ad opportunities to campaign profiles set up by your media buyers. The better media teams are at dialing in these profiles and the more clarity provided on the KPIs, the better the outcome.

In contrast, direct buying refers to manually negotiated ad contracts with specific media partners or programs.

When you use something like Google Ads, you’re typically engaging in programmatic buying. If you negotiate ad space with a website owner directly or pay to sponsor an individual podcast, that would be direct buying.

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Full-Service vs. Self-Service

When you’re working to set up media buying for your business, you’ll first decide between self-service and full-service buying. Full-service media buying—commonly referred to as managed-service—is offered by digital ad and performance marketing agencies like Tinuiti.

With self-service media buying options, you handle all the work to implement and execute your plan. That includes uploading the necessary information to ad networks and making needed adjustments to campaigns to optimize performance.

Full-service media buying

In a full-service arrangement, a dedicated media buying team negotiates directly with the publishers on your behalf, using their scale to get you better rates than you might going it alone. A good partner will work with you to create the media plan, shoot and edit the right creative, and align (and place buys for) a media plan with your specific goals in mind.

“If you want to go it alone, you can buy whatever network you want, but is it going to align with who you’re trying to reach, when you’re trying to reach them, and actually result in a conversion and/or an increase in brand lift? That should be determined by someone who is an expert in the field. It takes a lot of experience to do so, in addition to our proprietary tools that allow us to design media plans around clients’ goals.”

Stefanos Metaxas, EVP, Client Strategy & Analytics, Streaming+ at Tinuiti

You’ll also want to explore what your partner can offer regarding measurement and reporting. Not every agency offers measurement, and among those that do, some are using a third-party measurement tool that isn’t really built for this particular application.

At Tinuiti, our measurement capabilities—and the resultant reporting and insights they provide—play a pivotal role in the data-driven media buying strategies we execute for our clients.

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Our teams provide robust measurement that helps you understand how the media you’re running impacts your business. This measurement helps inform future media buys, so we’re able to constantly refine your campaign for maximum effectiveness and efficiency.

Offline Media Buying

Traditional media outlets are a valuable advertising option for many businesses, often working in tandem with online buys. These include television and radio advertising as well as out-of-home (OOH) media, such as billboards and signs at transit stations. To maximize ROI for these ad formats, media teams must be creative and well-informed about the needs and habits of their target audiences.

TV

Our definition of TV is evolving as most people typically watch both linear TV and Streaming TV on the largest screen in the house—often, in the living room. If you’re working with the right partner, they will work with your budget to plan a media buy that will help you achieve your goals. Agencies like Tinuiti do have campaign minimums to ensure a clear read on results, but both linear TV advertising and Streaming TV advertising may be more affordable than you think—particularly for campaigns designed to test the performance waters.

Radio Networks

Radio advertising is an established advertising medium that enables you to reach wide and varied audiences while they work, commute, exercise, cook and clean, and more.

Radio advertising is broadly broken into two categories—terrestrial radio (traditional) ads and Streaming radio ads. While traditional radio advertising has its benefits, one of its biggest drawbacks is the difficulty in measuring its performance.

At Tinuiti, we typically recommend digital audio advertising as an alternative to terrestrial radio. For Streaming radio ads, we are able to track KPI outcomes, and use those learnings to continually improve our clients’ campaigns.

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“Streaming audio is very measurable. Similarly to Streaming video, we use data to measure the impact of impressions across the audio landscape, including podcasts, without relying on HDYH surveys and promo codes.”

Stefanos Metaxas, EVP, Client Strategy & Analytics, Streaming+ at Tinuiti

Out-of-Home Advertising (OOH)

Out-of-home advertising options include an increasingly wide variety of methods and tactics, including traditional billboards and digital signs, transit advertising, experiential advertising, and guerilla marketing. When buying this type of media, it’s important to consider the optimal placement for your message and audience.

For example, if you can quickly convey a relevant message to professional commuters on their way to work via the freeway, a billboard might be ideal. However, if your message is more complex and takes a bit more time to digest, you might fare better with a digital sign at a bus stop or metro station.

How the Media Buying Process Works

Your media buying process must work with your business and marketing goals and integrate well with other processes, such as sales and customer service. But there are some steps in media planning and media buying that every organization should consider.

Set Goals & KPIs

Start by understanding your primary goals, and how you’ll measure performance. This includes considering:

  • Overall business goals. Ensure you have a strategic understanding of the business, including short- and long-term goals. Marketing and advertising must support these goals, and the paths you take with media buying may be quite different if you’re in a viral growth period than they would be if you’re trying to sustain existing revenue, for example.
  • Overall marketing and advertising goals. Next, take some time to understand big-picture marketing goals. Remember that ad campaigns don’t operate on their own; they must be planned and implemented to support the greater marketing strategy. Discuss the expectations for marketing and advertising overall, and what the business aims to accomplish. Common goals include increased brand awareness, generating revenue, or supporting the sales funnel.
  • Specific campaign goals. Now get into the nitty-gritty and set measurable goals for every campaign. If you haven’t determined which metrics to capture, you won’t be able to compare campaign efforts to goals or to past performance.

Define Your Target Audience

Every ad campaign should have a well-defined target audience that you’re trying to elicit some kind of response from, whether that’s making them aware of your brand or buying something. Insights into the desired audience help the media buyer optimize bidding strategies to support campaign performance.

Sometimes, your entire target audience is an appropriate audience for an ad campaign. It’s more likely, however, that a segment within the larger set is the best audience for a specific ad, offer, or product. For example, an online bookstore running an ad campaign centered on summer reading would want to target an audience composed of people including parents, grandparents, and teachers.

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Research Media Channels

You could simply throw all your ad budget at a single network and call it a day. However, if hitting your goals was that simple, media planners and buyers wouldn’t exist! Instead, it’s important to research a wide variety of media channels to determine how they can align with the target audience and goals for a given ad campaign.

At Tinuiti, our strategic planning team uses tools to determine the optimal mix of channels to reach a specific audience, as well as the budget we should allocate to those channels.

Media channels can include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Search, including Google and Bing
  • Email, which lets you advertise in emails sent through email marketing networks
  • Social media, including TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook
  • Television, including cable and broadcast networks as well as OTT services like Netflix and Hulu
  • Audio, including local radio as well as streaming services like Pandora, and podcasts
  • Print, including newspapers and magazines
  • Direct mail, such as ValPack

Determine Your Required Budget

It’s important to begin by defining your audience and determining where that audience consumes media before setting your budget; these two elements greatly impact how much you’ll need to spend to reach the right audiences in the right locations, and at the right frequency.

Send Requests for Proposals (RFPs) – Self-Service

If you choose to take the self-service route, your process should include sending RFPs to glean more information about ad opportunities. It’s important to be specific in your RFP and ask for the data you need to make the best possible decisions with your ad budget. When you ask for specific information consistently across all your RFPs, you also build a data bank of apples-to-apples info that can be used to make better media buying decisions.

Some information to ask for in an RFP includes:

  • Available ad inventory
  • Price, including net media costs
  • Ad specs

If you’re working with an experienced, full-service partner like Tinuiti, we would not recommend or require you RFP networks on your own. Our media buying team is already fully versed in the available offerings, and in some cases have pre-negotiated preferential pricing. This can stretch your campaign budget further than the rates you’d get independently might allow for.

Submit Insertion Orders (IO)

Only applicable to direct deals, this is the agreement between you and the publisher about your ad. At Tinuiti, we have a sophisticated interface that generates, sends, and maintains IOs. Because you need an IO for each ad deal, we recommend working from templates to make the IO process efficient and accurate if you’ll be going the self-service route.

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Each IO must contain the terms and conditions of the agreement. Large publishers, vendors, and brands may want their terms used for the IO, but there is also often some room for negotiation. An experienced media buyer knows when negotiation is possible and can use tactics to get more favorable terms and conditions for the advertiser.

Launch Your Campaign

Once all your creative and paperwork is in order, you’re ready to launch your campaign. This can take mere minutes, as with small ad campaigns on social media, or days to weeks, as is common with out-of-home advertising.

Measure & Optimize Live Campaigns

Once campaigns go live, the media team’s job is not done. It’s important to regularly measure the performance of campaigns and optimize them when and where possible to keep up with changing conditions, or in response to insights.

Many digital ads can be changed quickly and easily, with updates taking effect within hours if not minutes. Historically, the insights necessary to make these in-flight optimizations haven’t been available for television advertising. Brands would launch a two-month ad campaign and have to wait until it was finished to have any real insights into its performance.

At Tinuiti, our robust measurement capabilities unlock and enable in-flight optimizations that can be quickly implemented, even in traditionally inflexible channels like linear TV.

Review & Analyze the Campaign’s Final Spend

Once the campaign is over, conduct a debriefing. Analyze how much you spent and what results were driven by that spend. Ask the team whether something could have been done differently and better and what lessons were learned from the campaign. If something worked really well, note it for future efforts.

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Overcoming Media Buying Challenges

Media buying is a complex process that can come with any number of challenges. If the media plan isn’t well-thought-out, for example, it can leave the buyer spinning their wheels. Or if the audience isn’t clearly defined, the buyer’s efforts are not likely to lead to great success. Here are a few other common media buying challenges.

Measurement

As previously mentioned — more than once, because it’s that important — you must be able to accurately measure the performance of your ad campaigns. Without the right metrics, you can’t determine what is working and what isn’t. That means you can’t make data-backed decisions to improve ad performance in the future or justify your ad spend. Note that we are defining “performance” as the ability of a campaign to impact KPIs that are important to a brand, whether that is brand awareness or conversions for example. Even in a pure brand campaign, you need to maintain some bottom-of-funnel guardrails to keep the business on track, so measurement is important no matter what your ultimate goal is.

Data-driven attribution that ties conversions and revenue to specific ad campaigns has historically been a challenge in the clickless TV space in particular. As a performance-oriented marketing agency, overcoming that challenge was crucial to our continued success. At Tinuiti, there is no reporting black box. Our robust measurement and reporting helps fuel campaign efficiency and performance while providing our clients with the detailed insights they need.

Ongoing Optimization

The ability to adjust live campaigns in real-time gives you increased potential power over performance; that’s especially true when you have consistent, accurate measurement.

Thanks to our team’s detailed and actionable campaign insights, we are able to regularly optimize campaigns based on up-to-date information. There is no endless loop of “waiting for a campaign to end” to see how it performed, and “waiting for next time” to try something different; we are always measuring and appropriately optimizing.

Ad Fraud

Client hijacking is a form of ad fraud that involves a cybercriminal redirecting clicks on your ad to a different ad. In essence, the scammer steals the click, but you still pay for it.

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As a media buyer, it’s important to be aware of this and other issues, and understand the signs that it might be happening to your ads. If you’re eating through your budget, for example, but you don’t see the traffic that the clicks seem to indicate, your ad might have been targeted. You can contact the ad network to report the issue.

Brand Safety

Programmatic advertising presents a challenge for brand safety. If your ads are associated with the wrong words or context by ad algorithms, you might end up with a brand reputation issue. For example, a children’s toy brand doesn’t want its ads showing up next to violent content.

Media buyers can reduce some of these issues with custom keyword lists and negative keywords. You do need to take care with these tactics, though, because if you’re too cautious, you can unnecessarily limit your advertising opportunities.

Examples of Media Buying Platforms

There are many media buying platforms to choose from, and when you’re buying ads to support various campaigns, you may need to work with more than one. We encourage you to put some time into researching which options work best for your particular business, with some summaries for popular platforms below to get you started…

Proprietary Tools

Tinuiti’s product offering includes tools with which our teams can plan, execute, and monitor media buys across a variety of landscapes such as linear TV, OTT, and digital audio. This synthesizes what can be an enormous amount of individual campaigns into a single platform for consistency and ease of use by our buyers, and for viewing performance.

We transact in this platform whether we are issuing IOs directly to partners, or buying these channels programmatically. We have also built and continue to iterate on our internal tools to “talk” to other platforms in the digital marketplace, like a demand side platform (DSP) for programmatic buying.

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Google Display & Video 360

Google Display and Video 360 provides end-to-end management for display and video ads on the Google network. As the arguable king of digital advertising networks, Google has a lot to offer, including collaborative workflows and a truly amazing amount of data.

You can customize dashboards to keep an eye on your media efforts and involve your entire media team — from creative to analytics. You can also streamline the audience management process, because your audience insights are accessible in a single location and support all types of ads.

Finally, Google tools are backed by a high level of automation options powered by Google technology, making for easy-to-scale ad efforts.

The Trade Desk

The Trade Desk is a media buying platform that helps you advertise to the right audiences, whether they’re local or on the other side of the globe.

You can use this platform to plan future campaigns, implement and optimize current campaigns, and measure your success. Media buyers who use this platform get access to more than their own data. Premium partners can make use of data from around 2 million segments from other partners, which can help you optimize ads even if your business or product line is very new.

The Trade Desk also has in-house data scientists and engineers that can help develop custom solutions and approaches to advertising.

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Amazon DSP

Amazon DSP is a demand-side platform that provides access to ad opportunities on Amazon as well as other locations online. This platform provides exclusive access to Amazon ad opportunities, which can be critical for those with an Amazon Store or products on the platform.

However, you don’t have to sell products on Amazon to use this platform. Amazon DSP also comes in self-service and managed-service options, so you can get the right level of service for your business needs.

Amazon also offers a lot of education and training, providing a path for almost anyone to gain success with this DSP. Agencies and other professionals may want to take one of Amazon’s DSP certification courses to demonstrate their knowledge.

Criteo

Criteo specializes in connecting advertisers with retailers and publishers. Specifically, it works with businesses such as Shopify and Best Buy, and it helps get your ads in front of retail customers who are primed to make purchases.

A particular strength of this platform is that it relies primarily on first-party data to support automated ad decisions. This helps reduce the impact of the crackdown on third-party data on digital advertising.

Adobe Advertising Cloud

Adobe Advertising is an Adobe product that integrates seamlessly with other offerings from the software giant. This might be a good platform to use if you already use Adobe for ad creative or project management, as you can easily add media buying processes to your workflow.

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The AI power of Adobe Sensei helps you forecast ad budgets and automatically optimize ads, and you can get real-time actionable insights that help you drive current ad performance and make better media buying plans and decisions in the future.

Watch These Trends in Media Buying

Digital landscapes evolve rapidly, so it’s important to keep an eye on trends. Some of the most important and stickiest trends to consider in media buying today include:

  • Streaming. Nearly 80% of households in the United States use a streaming service (or multiple services) regularly. Only around 40% say they subscribe to cable television. The takeaway here is clear: the future of television is streaming, and the future of television advertising is also streaming. However, don’t count out linear! If you have the budget, it can still play a pivotal role in helping you reach the widest audience in conjunction with your OTT ad buys.
  • Social media and video. Close to 50% of social media users aged 16 to 64 say they turn to social media as a primary method for learning about new products or brands. Video is increasingly the most engaged-with media format on social platforms — and platforms like TikTok require it. Media plans should include a strong overall focus on video, with media buyers needing to seriously consider the role social media plays in their efforts.
  • First-party data. As privacy concerns mount and third-party data is removed or seriously limited, first-party data becomes increasingly important. Media teams need to consider their own data as well as other first-party data they can leverage to make the best possible choices about ad buying.

Apply What You’ve Learned to Your Next Ad Campaign

Take the time to create strong media plans and support your media buying teams. Find out more about optimizing non-click-based media by visiting Tinuiti’s Streaming+ page.

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MARKETING

How to Use AI For a More Effective Social Media Strategy, According to Ross Simmonds

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How to Use AI For a More Effective Social Media Strategy, According to Ross Simmonds

Welcome to Creator Columns, where we bring expert HubSpot Creator voices to the Blogs that inspire and help you grow better.

It’s the age of AI, and our job as marketers is to keep up.

My team at Foundation Marketing recently conducted an AI Marketing study surveying hundreds of marketers, and more than 84% of all leaders, managers, SEO experts, and specialists confirmed that they used AI in the workplace.

AI in the workplace data graphic, Foundation Labs

If you can overlook the fear-inducing headlines, this technology is making social media marketers more efficient and effective than ever. Translation: AI is good news for social media marketers.

Download Now: The 2024 State of Social Media Trends [Free Report]

In fact, I predict that the marketers not using AI in their workplace will be using it before the end of this year, and that number will move closer and closer to 100%.

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Social media and AI are two of the most revolutionizing technologies of the last few decades. Social media has changed the way we live, and AI is changing the way we work.

So, I’m going to condense and share the data, research, tools, and strategies that the Foundation Marketing Team and I have been working on over the last year to help you better wield the collective power of AI and social media.

Let’s jump into it.

What’s the role of AI in social marketing strategy?

In a recent episode of my podcast, Create Like The Greats, we dove into some fascinating findings about the impact of AI on marketers and social media professionals. Take a listen here:

Let’s dive a bit deeper into the benefits of this technology:

Benefits of AI in Social Media Strategy

AI is to social media what a conductor is to an orchestra — it brings everything together with precision and purpose. The applications of AI in a social media strategy are vast, but the virtuosos are few who can wield its potential to its fullest.

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AI to Conduct Customer Research

Imagine you’re a modern-day Indiana Jones, not dodging boulders or battling snakes, but rather navigating the vast, wild terrain of consumer preferences, trends, and feedback.

This is where AI thrives.

Using social media data, from posts on X to comments and shares, AI can take this information and turn it into insights surrounding your business and industry. Let’s say for example you’re a business that has 2,000 customer reviews on Google, Yelp, or a software review site like Capterra.

Leveraging AI you can now have all 2,000 of these customer reviews analyzed and summarized into an insightful report in a matter of minutes. You simply need to download all of them into a doc and then upload them to your favorite Generative Pre-trained Transformer (GPT) to get the insights and data you need.

But that’s not all.

You can become a Prompt Engineer and write ChatGPT asking it to help you better understand your audience. For example, if you’re trying to come up with a persona for people who enjoy marathons but also love kombucha you could write a prompt like this to ChatGPT:

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ChatGPT prompt example

The response that ChatGPT provided back is quite good:

GPT response example

Below this it went even deeper by including a lot of valuable customer research data:

  • Demographics
  • Psychographics
  • Consumer behaviors
  • Needs and preferences

And best of all…

It also included marketing recommendations.

The power of AI is unbelievable.

Social Media Content Using AI

AI’s helping hand can be unburdening for the creative spirit.

Instead of marketers having to come up with new copy every single month for posts, AI Social Caption generators are making it easier than ever to craft catchy status updates in the matter of seconds.

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Tools like HubSpot make it as easy as clicking a button and telling the AI tool what you’re looking to create a post about:

AI social media caption generator step 1

The best part of these AI tools is that they’re not limited to one channel.

Your AI social media content assistant can help you with LinkedIn content, X content, Facebook content, and even the captions that support your post on Instagram.

It can also help you navigate hashtags:

AI social media hashtags generator example, HubSpot

With AI social media tools that generate content ideas or even write posts, it’s not about robots replacing humans. It’s about making sure that the human creators on your team are focused on what really matters — adding that irreplaceable human touch.

Enhanced Personalization

You know that feeling when a brand gets you, like, really gets you?

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AI makes that possible through targeted content that’s tailored with a level of personalization you’d think was fortune-telling if the data didn’t paint a starker, more rational picture.

What do I mean?

Brands can engage more quickly with AI than ever before. In the early 2000s, a lot of brands spent millions of dollars to create social media listening rooms where they would hire social media managers to find and engage with any conversation happening online.

Thanks to AI, brands now have the ability to do this at scale with much fewer people all while still delivering quality engagement with the recipient.

Analytics and Insights

Tapping into AI to dissect the data gives you a CSI-like precision to figure out what works, what doesn’t, and what makes your audience tick. It’s the difference between guessing and knowing.

The best part about AI is that it can give you almost any expert at your fingertips.

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If you run a report surrounding the results of your social media content strategy directly from a site like LinkedIn, AI can review the top posts you’ve shared and give you clear feedback on what type of content is performing, why you should create more of it, and what days of the week your content is performing best.

This type of insight that would typically take hours to understand.

Now …

Thanks to the power of AI you can upload a spreadsheet filled with rows and columns of data just to be met with a handful of valuable insights a few minutes later.

Improved Customer Service

Want 24/7 support for your customers?

It’s now possible without human touch.

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Chatbots powered by AI are taking the lead on direct messaging experiences for brands on Facebook and other Meta properties to offer round-the-clock assistance.

The fact that AI can be trained on past customer queries and data to inform future queries and problems is a powerful development for social media managers.

Advertising on Social Media with AI

The majority of ad networks have used some variation of AI to manage their bidding system for years. Now, thanks to AI and its ability to be incorporated in more tools, brands are now able to use AI to create better and more interesting ad campaigns than ever before.

Brands can use AI to create images using tools like Midjourney and DALL-E in seconds.

Brands can use AI to create better copy for their social media ads.

Brands can use AI tools to support their bidding strategies.

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The power of AI and social media is continuing to evolve daily and it’s not exclusively found in the organic side of the coin. Paid media on social media is being shaken up due to AI just the same.

How to Implement AI into Your Social Media Strategy

Ready to hit “Go” on your AI-powered social media revolution?

Don’t just start the engine and hope for the best. Remember the importance of building a strategy first. In this video, you can learn some of the most important factors ranging from (but not limited to) SMART goals and leveraging influencers in your day-to-day work:

The following seven steps are crucial to building a social media strategy:

  1. Identify Your AI and Social Media Goals
  2. Validate Your AI-Related Assumptions
  3. Conduct Persona and Audience Research
  4. Select the Right Social Channels
  5. Identify Key Metrics and KPIs
  6. Choose the Right AI Tools
  7. Evaluate and Refine Your Social Media and AI Strategy

Keep reading, roll up your sleeves, and follow this roadmap:

1. Identify Your AI and Social Media Goals

If you’re just dipping your toes into the AI sea, start by defining clear objectives.

Is it to boost engagement? Streamline your content creation? Or simply understand your audience better? It’s important that you spend time understanding what you want to achieve.

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For example, say you’re a content marketing agency like Foundation and you’re trying to increase your presence on LinkedIn. The specificity of this goal will help you understand the initiatives you want to achieve and determine which AI tools could help you make that happen.

Are there AI tools that will help you create content more efficiently? Are there AI tools that will help you optimize LinkedIn Ads? Are there AI tools that can help with content repurposing? All of these things are possible and having a goal clearly identified will help maximize the impact. Learn more in this Foundation Marketing piece on incorporating AI into your content workflow.

Once you have identified your goals, it’s time to get your team on board and assess what tools are available in the market.

Recommended Resources:

2. Validate Your AI-Related Assumptions

Assumptions are dangerous — especially when it comes to implementing new tech.

Don’t assume AI is going to fix all your problems.

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Instead, start with small experiments and track their progress carefully.

3. Conduct Persona and Audience Research

Social media isn’t something that you can just jump into.

You need to understand your audience and ideal customers. AI can help with this, but you’ll need to be familiar with best practices. If you need a primer, this will help:

Once you understand the basics, consider ways in which AI can augment your approach.

4. Select the Right Social Channels

Not every social media channel is the same.

It’s important that you understand what channel is right for you and embrace it.

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The way you use AI for X is going to be different from the way you use AI for LinkedIn. On X, you might use AI to help you develop a long-form thread that is filled with facts and figures. On LinkedIn however, you might use AI to repurpose a blog post and turn it into a carousel PDF. The content that works on X and that AI can facilitate creating is different from the content that you can create and use on LinkedIn.

The audiences are different.

The content formats are different.

So operate and create a plan accordingly.

Recommended Tools and Resources:

5. Identify Key Metrics and KPIs

What metrics are you trying to influence the most?

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Spend time understanding the social media metrics that matter to your business and make sure that they’re prioritized as you think about the ways in which you use AI.

These are a few that matter most:

  • Reach: Post reach signifies the count of unique users who viewed your post. How much of your content truly makes its way to users’ feeds?
  • Clicks: This refers to the number of clicks on your content or account. Monitoring clicks per campaign is crucial for grasping what sparks curiosity or motivates people to make a purchase.
  • Engagement: The total social interactions divided by the number of impressions. This metric reveals how effectively your audience perceives you and their readiness to engage.

Of course, it’s going to depend greatly on your business.

But with this information, you can ensure that your AI social media strategy is rooted in goals.

6. Choose the Right AI Tools

The AI landscape is filled with trash and treasure.

Pick AI tools that are most likely to align with your needs and your level of tech-savviness.

For example, if you’re a blogger creating content about pizza recipes, you can use HubSpot’s AI social caption generator to write the message on your behalf:

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AI social media generator example

The benefit of an AI tool like HubSpot and the caption generator is that what at one point took 30-40 minutes to come up with — you can now have it at your fingertips in seconds. The HubSpot AI caption generator is trained on tons of data around social media content and makes it easy for you to get inspiration or final drafts on what can be used to create great content.

Consider your budget, the learning curve, and what kind of support the tool offers.

7. Evaluate and Refine Your Social Media and AI Strategy

AI isn’t a magic wand; it’s a set of complex tools and technology.

You need to be willing to pivot as things come to fruition.

If you notice that a certain activity is falling flat, consider how AI can support that process.

Did you notice that your engagement isn’t where you want it to be? Consider using an AI tool to assist with crafting more engaging social media posts.

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Make AI Work for You — Now and in the Future

AI has the power to revolutionize your social media strategy in ways you may have never thought possible. With its ability to conduct customer research, create personalized content, and so much more, thinking about the future of social media is fascinating.

We’re going through one of the most interesting times in history.

Stay equipped to ride the way of AI and ensure that you’re embracing the best practices outlined in this piece to get the most out of the technology.

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Advertising in local markets: A playbook for success

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Advertising in local markets: A playbook for success

Many brands, such as those in the home services industry or a local grocery chain, market to specific locations, cities or regions. There are also national brands that want to expand in specific local markets. 

Regardless of the company or purpose, advertising on a local scale has different tactics than on a national scale. Brands need to connect their messaging directly with the specific communities they serve and media to their target demo. Here’s a playbook to help your company succeed when marketing on a local scale.  

1. Understand local vs. national campaigns

Local advertising differs from national campaigns in several ways: 

  • Audience specificity: By zooming in on precise geographic areas, brands can tailor messaging to align with local communities’ customs, preferences and nuances. This precision targeting ensures that your message resonates with the right target audience.
  • Budget friendliness: Local advertising is often more accessible for small businesses. Local campaign costs are lower, enabling brands to invest strategically within targeted locales. This budget-friendly nature does not diminish the need for strategic planning; instead, it emphasizes allocating resources wisely to maximize returns. As a result, testing budgets can be allocated across multiple markets to maximize learnings for further market expansion.
  • Channel selection: Selecting the correct channels is vital for effective local advertising. Local newspapers, radio stations, digital platforms and community events each offer advantages. The key lies in understanding where your target audience spends time and focusing efforts to ensure optimal engagement.
  • Flexibility and agility: Local campaigns can be adjusted more swiftly in response to market feedback or changes, allowing brands to stay relevant and responsive. 

Maintaining brand consistency across local touchpoints reinforces brand identity and builds a strong, recognizable brand across markets. 

2. Leverage customized audience segmentation 

Customized audience segmentation is the process of dividing a market into distinct groups based on specific demographic criteria. This marketing segmentation supports the development of targeted messaging and media plans for local markets. 

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For example, a coffee chain might cater to two distinct segments: young professionals and retirees. After identifying these segments, the chain can craft messages, offers and media strategies relating to each group’s preferences and lifestyle.

To reach young professionals in downtown areas, the chain might focus on convenience, quality coffee and a vibrant atmosphere that is conducive to work and socializing. Targeted advertising on Facebook, Instagram or Connected TV, along with digital signage near office complexes, could capture the attention of this demographic, emphasizing quick service and premium blends.

Conversely, for retirees in residential areas, the chain could highlight a cozy ambiance, friendly service and promotions such as senior discounts. Advertisements in local print publications, community newsletters, radio stations and events like senior coffee mornings would foster a sense of community and belonging.

Dig deeper: Niche advertising: 7 actionable tactics for targeted marketing

3. Adapt to local market dynamics

Various factors influence local market dynamics. Brands that navigate changes effectively maintain a strong audience connection and stay ahead in the market. Here’s how consumer sentiment and behavior may evolve within a local market and the corresponding adjustments brands can make. 

  • Cultural shifts, such as changes in demographics or societal norms, can alter consumer preferences within a local community. For example, a neighborhood experiencing gentrification may see demand rise for specific products or services.
    • Respond by updating your messaging to reflect the evolving cultural landscape, ensuring it resonates with the new demographic profile.
  • Economic conditions are crucial. For example, during downturns, consumers often prioritize value and practicality.
    • Highlight affordable options or emphasize the practical benefits of your offerings to ensure messaging aligns with consumers’ financial priorities. The impact is unique to each market and the marketing message must also be dynamic.
  • Seasonal trends impact consumer behavior.
    • Align your promotions and creative content with changing seasons or local events to make your offerings timely and relevant.
  • New competitors. The competitive landscape demands vigilance because new entrants or innovative competitor campaigns can shift consumer preferences.
    • Differentiate by focusing on your unique selling propositions, such as quality, customer service or community involvement, to retain consumer interest and loyalty.

4. Apply data and predictive analytics 

Data and predictive analytics are indispensable tools for successfully reaching local target markets. These technologies provide consumer behavior insights, enabling you to anticipate market trends and adjust strategies proactively. 

  • Price optimization: By analyzing consumer demand, competitor pricing and market conditions, data analytics enables you to set prices that attract customers while ensuring profitability.
  • Competitor analysis: Through analysis, brands can understand their positioning within the local market landscape and identify opportunities and threats. Predictive analytics offer foresight into competitors’ potential moves, allowing you to strategize effectively to maintain a competitive edge.
  • Consumer behavior: Forecasting consumer behavior allows your brand to tailor offerings and marketing messages to meet evolving consumer needs and enhance engagement.
  • Marketing effectiveness: Analytics track the success of advertising campaigns, providing insights into which strategies drive conversions and sales. This feedback loop enables continuous optimization of marketing efforts for maximum impact.
  • Inventory management: In supply chain management, data analytics predict demand fluctuations, ensuring inventory levels align with market needs. This efficiency prevents stockouts or excess inventory, optimizing operational costs and meeting consumer expectations.

Dig deeper: Why you should add predictive modeling to your marketing mix

5. Counter external market influences

Consider a clothing retailer preparing for a spring collection launch. By analyzing historical weather data and using predictive analytics, the brand forecasts an unseasonably cool start to spring. Anticipating this, the retailer adjusts its campaign to highlight transitional pieces suitable for cooler weather, ensuring relevance despite an unexpected chill.

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Simultaneously, predictive models signal an upcoming spike in local media advertising rates due to increased market demand. Retailers respond by reallocating a portion of advertising budgets to digital channels, which offer more flexibility and lower costs than traditional media. This shift enables brands to maintain visibility and engagement without exceeding budget, mitigating the impact of external forces on advertising.

6. Build consumer confidence with messaging

Localized messaging and tailored customer service enhance consumer confidence by demonstrating your brand’s understanding of the community. For instance, a grocery store that curates cooking classes featuring local cuisine or sponsors community events shows commitment to local culture and consumer interests. 

Similarly, a bookstore highlighting local authors or topics relevant to the community resonates with local customers. Additionally, providing service that addresses local needs — such as bilingual service and local event support — reinforces the brand’s values and response to the community. 

Through these localized approaches, brands can build trust and loyalty, bridging the gap between corporate presence and local relevance.

7. Dominate with local advertising 

To dominate local markets, brands must:

  • Harness hyper-targeted segmentation and geo-targeted advertising to reach and engage precise audiences.
  • Create localized content that reflects community values, engage in community events, optimize campaigns for mobile and track results.
  • Fine-tune strategies, outperform competitors and foster lasting relationships with customers.

These strategies will enable your message to resonate with local consumers, differentiate you in competitive markets and ensure you become a major player in your specific area. 



Dig deeper: The 5 critical elements for local marketing success

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

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Battling for Attention in the 2024 Election Year Media Frenzy

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Battling for Attention in the 2024 Election Year Media Frenzy

Battling for Attention in the 2024 Election Year Media Frenzy

As we march closer to the 2024 U.S. presidential election, CMOs and marketing leaders need to prepare for a significant shift in the digital advertising landscape. Election years have always posed unique challenges for advertisers, but the growing dominance of digital media has made the impact more profound than ever before.

In this article, we’ll explore the key factors that will shape the advertising environment in the coming months and provide actionable insights to help you navigate these turbulent waters.

The Digital Battleground

The rise of cord-cutting and the shift towards digital media consumption have fundamentally altered the advertising landscape in recent years. As traditional TV viewership declines, political campaigns have had to adapt their strategies to reach voters where they are spending their time: on digital platforms.

1713626763 903 Battling for Attention in the 2024 Election Year Media Frenzy1713626763 903 Battling for Attention in the 2024 Election Year Media Frenzy

According to a recent report by eMarketer, the number of cord-cutters in the U.S. is expected to reach 65.1 million by the end of 2023, representing a 6.9% increase from 2022. This trend is projected to continue, with the number of cord-cutters reaching 72.2 million by 2025.

Moreover, a survey conducted by Pew Research Center in 2023 found that 62% of U.S. adults do not have a cable or satellite TV subscription, up from 61% in 2022 and 50% in 2019. This data further underscores the accelerating shift away from traditional TV and towards streaming and digital media platforms.

As these trends continue, political advertisers will have no choice but to follow their audiences to digital channels. In the 2022 midterm elections, digital ad spending by political campaigns reached $1.2 billion, a 50% increase from the 2018 midterms. With the 2024 presidential election on the horizon, this figure is expected to grow exponentially, as campaigns compete for the attention of an increasingly digital-first electorate.

For brands and advertisers, this means that the competition for digital ad space will be fiercer than ever before. As political ad spending continues to migrate to platforms like Meta, YouTube, and connected TV, the cost of advertising will likely surge, making it more challenging for non-political advertisers to reach their target audiences.

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To navigate this complex and constantly evolving landscape, CMOs and their teams will need to be proactive, data-driven, and willing to experiment with new strategies and channels. By staying ahead of the curve and adapting to the changing media consumption habits of their audiences, brands can position themselves for success in the face of the electoral advertising onslaught.

Rising Costs and Limited Inventory

As political advertisers flood the digital market, the cost of advertising is expected to skyrocket. CPMs (cost per thousand impressions) will likely experience a steady climb throughout the year, with significant spikes anticipated in May, as college students come home from school and become more engaged in political conversations, and around major campaign events like presidential debates.

1713626764 529 Battling for Attention in the 2024 Election Year Media Frenzy1713626764 529 Battling for Attention in the 2024 Election Year Media Frenzy

For media buyers and their teams, this means that the tried-and-true strategies of years past may no longer be sufficient. Brands will need to be nimble, adaptable, and willing to explore new tactics to stay ahead of the game.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday: A Perfect Storm

The challenges of election year advertising will be particularly acute during the critical holiday shopping season. Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which have historically been goldmines for advertisers, will be more expensive and competitive than ever in 2024, as they coincide with the final weeks of the presidential campaign.

To avoid being drowned out by the political noise, brands will need to start planning their holiday campaigns earlier than usual. Building up audiences and crafting compelling creative assets well in advance will be essential to success, as will a willingness to explore alternative channels and tactics. Relying on cold audiences come Q4 will lead to exceptionally high costs that may be detrimental to many businesses.

Navigating the Chaos

While the challenges of election year advertising can seem daunting, there are steps that media buyers and their teams can take to mitigate the impact and even thrive in this environment. Here are a few key strategies to keep in mind:

Start early and plan for contingencies: Begin planning your Q3 and Q4 campaigns as early as possible, with a focus on building up your target audiences and developing a robust library of creative assets.

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Be sure to build in contingency budgets to account for potential cost increases, and be prepared to pivot your strategy as the landscape evolves.

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Embrace alternative channels: Consider diversifying your media mix to include channels that may be less impacted by political ad spending, such as influencer marketing, podcast advertising, or sponsored content. Investing in owned media channels, like email marketing and mobile apps, can also provide a direct line to your customers without the need to compete for ad space.

Owned channels will be more important than ever. Use cheaper months leading up to the election to build your email lists and existing customer base so that your BF/CM can leverage your owned channels and warm audiences.

Craft compelling, shareable content: In a crowded and noisy advertising environment, creating content that resonates with your target audience will be more important than ever. Focus on developing authentic, engaging content that aligns with your brand values and speaks directly to your customers’ needs and desires.

By tapping into the power of emotional triggers and social proof, you can create content that not only cuts through the clutter but also inspires organic sharing and amplification.

Reflections

The 2024 election year will undoubtedly bring new challenges and complexities to the world of digital advertising. But by staying informed, adaptable, and strategic in your approach, you can navigate this landscape successfully and even find new opportunities for growth and engagement.

As a media buyer or agnecy, your role in steering your brand through these uncharted waters will be critical. By starting your planning early, embracing alternative channels and tactics, and focusing on creating authentic, resonant content, you can not only survive but thrive in the face of election year disruptions.

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So while the road ahead may be uncertain, one thing is clear: the brands that approach this challenge with creativity, agility, and a steadfast commitment to their customers will be the ones that emerge stronger on the other side.


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