Media optimization is done to determine which specific advertising placements are working and which are not. Based on the analysis of various data and reports, campaigns are broken down and then rebuilt based on which ads are performing the best.
In the digital world, this often means adjusting placements and ads based on metrics like click-through rate, conversions, and cost per lead. It's pretty easy in theory: do more of what works.
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For example, if ad X is consistently driving more conversions or leads than ad Y, you should move more resources to ad X.
As web analytics and digital measurement have become more sophisticated, it has been easier and easier to decipher which placements are doing the heavy lifting and which are under-performing. The more data became available, the number of dimensions for optimization steadily increased.
As social media or "earned media" continues to grow as a brand advertising channel, media optimizers must turn their attention toward understanding how their ads fit into the new digital ecosystem.
It's important to note that the basic concept of optimization does not change. Adding social media to the equation does not mean that the other variables must be thrown out the window; social media simply becomes one more factor to consider.
Every campaign and team will likely have a different process for optimizing with social media, but the four guidelines below should help shape this process each time.
Make your social media goals SMART
Every campaign should have SMART goals (Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound). Even though social media often seems qualitative, it's critical for goals to be set and used to understand how well campaigns are performing.
Social media activities may strive to accomplish goals similar to those of online display ads, such as driving traffic to a corporate website or encouraging consumers to fill out a contact form.
In this way social ads and social engagement may be measured against the same benchmarks. Depending on data availability, it may be trickier to connect the dots between specific activities and consumer actions, but there are plenty of steps that can be taken to gather the right data.
If social media engagement is the end goal, you'll simply want to optimize for higher engagement, whether it's retweets, Facebook comments, or re-blogs on Tumblr. Again, it may be tricky to tie digital ads or even social ads to subsequent engagement, but it's not a hopeless cause.
Track social data and plan to integrate
It seems we can't stop talking about social media tools like Klout these days, but there are a wide variety of tools that will help you track the right data for optimization:
- Social listening tools like Visible Technologies and Crimson Hexagon will help find individual social activities like tweets and Facebook posts related to your brand or campaign.
- Platform-specific tools like Facebook Insights often give the best information and data for the individual platform.
- Web analytics such as Google Analytics and Omniture will allow you to understand how consumers arrive at your website from social media or perhaps how they behave once they are on social properties.
- Using URL shorteners like bit.ly allow you to track how many folks are clicking on the content you share on social media, which can help you determine the impact social may have on your campaign.
- If you're working with third-parties to serve display ads, you will likely have access to data through them as well. Be sure to ask up front what they can (and will) provide throughout the campaign.