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Accounting for Future Performance in Paid Media

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Changing circumstances can force you to confront the future. Planning ahead is essential and can better prepare you for what comes next. While a model won’t perfectly predict what comes next, it can be vital in preparing and setting realistic expectations.

In this article, we’ll cover a few approaches that you can explore and build on. It’s worth noting that while there is no out-of-the-box solution, the process and business knowledge you can apply are what make these tools valuable.

Simple Math

With a few formulas, you can quickly pace account metrics, understand the direction of your account, and plan for the rest of the month. Sometimes the simple method is all you need.

One common method involves taking the current total, taking the average of the last seven days, and multiplying it by the remaining days in the period.

For a month this looks something like a month to date spend + last seven day spend/7 * days remaining in the month.

Simple forecast example in Google Sheets

Simple forecast example in Google Sheets

The simplicity of this method makes it intuitive and easy to adjust for. Seven days is a great starter as most accounts follows a typical cycle as activity rises and falls through a weekly period. You can adjust it for stability by increasing the seven days to 14 or 21. The beauty is that the formula starts so simply that it’s not a big investment to make changes.

If you need to add more nuance you can apply this same method to account segments to account for differences in brand investment, non-brand, shopping, or the product line level. You can also add further modifiers to weight the remaining days differently. The best part of this method is that it can be easily modified, is intuitive, and produces reasonable results with little effort.

You can see more advanced implementations in this post, How to Forecast Spend Potential in Paid Social Campaigns

Data Tables in Excel

Data tables are a great method to estimate the account level effects of changing metrics. You can take an efficiently metric such as ROAS or CPA and create a table with new CPAs/ROAS by different cost per clicks and click through rates. This helps you forecast the impact of performance changes in your account.

Data Table Example in Microsoft Excel

Excel Data Table Example

Unlike the previous example, it does not account for time. Instead, it provides useful benchmarks for upper and lower limits in performance. It clarifies possibilities and outlines the bounds of performance.  You can use it these as a best-case and a  worst-case scenario or see how far metrics would have to change to hit a goal target.

You can find further details in this post,

How to Utilize Excel Data Tables for Better Projections

and this webinar,

Discover More Accurate Projections with Excel Data Tables

Going Further with Your Models

Or course models can go much further. You can explore time series with Holt-Winters, ARIMA, and more. While these are not always directly applicable to daily work and optimizations they can be useful when longer terms forecasts are needed. The main benefit is that they are built to account for trends and seasonality. Something our naïve models don’t account for.

Holt Winters Forecast Output Graph

Holt-Winters Output for Web Traffic

The downside here is that these models often require more knowledge on the topic or a tool to pull them off. Notably programming skills and packages like tidymodels in R or statsmodels in Python. If you need further motivation, check out the other benefits of learning Python – How Learning Python can Improve your PPC Campaigns.

Holt-Winters can be quickly applied in Excel though. Here is a fun blog article that walks through a hypothetical example. It’s not directly PPC related but the method is easily adaptable. This method will account for multiple factors such as seasonality and overall trends in predicting future performance. It’s a great tool for spotting anomalies or adding to a quarterly review.

Analytics Made Skeezy – Forecasting Made Skeezy

Wrapping Up

We covered a few approaches in this article. Each one requires a bit of nuance and modification to be directly useful. They are not exclusive though. I encourage you to try multiple methods and models to dive deeper into account performance. Once you get started you might find it to be one of your favorite tasks!

PPChero.com

MICROSOFT

Microsoft will acquire Activision Blizzard Inc. for $68.7 billion

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Microsoft will acquire Activision Blizzard Inc. for $68.7 billion

Today, Microsoft announced plans to acquire video game maker Activision Blizzard Inc. for $68.7 billion. When the deal is completed, Microsoft will become the world’s third-large gaming company by revenue, behind Tencent and Sony, according to a company statement.

Game franchises from Activision, Blizzard and King studios that are part of the deal include “Warcraft,” “Call of Duty” and “Candy Crush.” Bobby Kotick will continue as CEO of Activision Blizzard. When the deal closes, the Activision Blizzard business will report to Phil Spencer, CEO, Microsoft Gaming.

Why we care. This is a giant acquisition for audiences and content production. Gamers will have new options as the industry shifts and continues to evolve. Subscribers to Microsoft’s Game Pass portfolio, for instance, will benefit from the launch of Activision Blizzard games into that service. But that’s just 25 million subscribers in Game Pass. Activision Blizzard boasts nearly 400 million monthly active players in 190 countries.

Looking ahead maybe two years or more, the metaverse promises to be an all but limitless virtual reality layer built on top of the internet. Gaming companies already have deep experience with in-game advertising, and the metaverse could take that space to a whole new level. Whether Microsoft has this in mind, we don’t know, but this acquisition boosts Microsoft Gaming’s position as one of the biggest gaming companies in the world.

Kim Davis contributed to this article.


Author

Chris Wood draws on over 15 years of reporting experience as a B2B editor and journalist. At DMN, he served as associate editor, offering original analysis on the evolving marketing tech landscape. He has interviewed leaders in tech and policy, from Canva CEO Melanie Perkins, to former Cisco CEO John Chambers, and Vivek Kundra, appointed by Barack Obama as the country’s first federal CIO. 

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Why Microsoft’s Cortana Was Almost Called “Bingo”

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Microsoft almost named its Cortana voice assistant after the Bing search engine. But, the company changes its plans after Steve Ballmer’s retirement.

While Microsoft discontinued the Windows Phone in 2017, its AI-enabled assistant Cortana continued to live on iOS and Android until March 31, 2021. Plus, it still exists in Windows PCs to this day.

In an interview by Alice Newton Rex, former Microsoft Product Manager Sandeep Paruchuri tells the origins of Cortana’s name and what it could have been named instead.

Cortana Was Almost Called Bingo

According to the Big Bets newsletter, Cortana was supposed to be called Bingo. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer wanted to name its new AI assistant after Bing in an ode to its search engine.

Ballmer reportedly wanted all its products to be Microsoft-branded. With Bing being a critical part of its AI recommendation system, it’s easy to make the connection with the name Bingo.

In addition, Microsoft’s AI assistant would be able to use its existing legacy branding to help propel its next generation of products.

Thankfully, Ballmer was on his way out, and his successor, Satya Nadella, had other plans. Not only was the AI-enabled assistant given the green light for release, but it also got to keep its much-loved name, Cortana.

The Role of Halo in Cortana’s Naming

Named after the fictional Halo character, also an AI assistant, Cortana was initially supposed to be just a name used in development. Serving as an advisor to the player character, Master Chief, Cortana is an in-game AI that every Halo player is familiar with.

Acting as a metaphor, Sandeep mentioned how the development team believed she was the perfect metaphor for their goals, an assistant that was always looking out for you.

As featured in Microsoft’s 20th-anniversary documentary, Power On, Halo plays a crucial role in Microsoft’s history. With its release, Halo was a revolutionary title among FPS games, and it played a vital role in putting Microsoft’s Xbox on the map.

The massive PR frenzy that accompanied the leaked name of the AI as Cortana was too much to ignore. With long-time Xbox players and Halo fans behind it, Cortana became one of the selling points of its now defunct Windows Phone platform.

What’s in Cortana’s Name?

They say art imitates life, but in Microsoft’s case, it’s the opposite. Who could have known that an inside joke among developers could lead to naming one of its products after a video game character?

While Microsoft could’ve named Cortana after Bing, its leak saved us all the embarrassment of calling out Bingo out in public. Although Bingo would have been an interesting callback to Microsoft’s popular service, it doesn’t have the same futuristic ring as Cortana.

For this reason, Microsoft’s choice to choose Cortana over Bingo seems to be the better one. Unfortunately, it still couldn’t save Cortana from being shut down by Microsoft for good.

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Microsoft Advertising Launches Health Insurance Ads

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Microsoft Advertising announced a new ad format for Bing Search named health insurance ads. Microsoft said advertisers are already seeing a 4X increase in return on ad spend (ROAS) and lower costs per acquisition (CPAs) with this new format.

Microsoft Advertising Health insurance ads are “intent-triggered rich placements that provide real-time information to consumers and inspire action, all with no keywords required,” Microsoft said. These are positioned on the right rail of the Bing search engine results page running alongside mainline text ads, you can showcase your healthcare plans more prominently than ever.

Here is what they look like:

click for full size

Health insurance ads are dynamically generated based on the data you specify in your feed file, such as your plan type, the organization category, federal registration status, and URLs. The more details you provide in the feed file, the more information Microsoft can include in your ads.

These ads give you:

  • Customized ads: Submit and schedule your feed, and based on the attributes you provide, Microsoft will create relevant, personalized ads.
  • Improved return on ad spend: See more volume, increased click-through rates (CTR), and lower cost-per-click (CPC) rates.
  • Time-saving automation: With no keywords required, the ads are created by feed files that use Microsoft AI automation and are fully equipped for bulk upload.

To sign up for the beta for Health insurance ads, you first need to reach out to your Microsoft Advertising rep or contact the Microsoft support team. Once you are in the beta, you will need to provide a feed. A comprehensive feed with rich attributes such as image URLs and contextual keywords is critical for your success with Health insurance ads.

Forum discussion at Twitter.

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