Hiring a paid media agency’s a smart business move.
…If you hire the right one.
The right agency can help you quickly increase your traffic, leads, and sales.
The wrong one will have you spending your budget with little return.
And because the industry’s always changing, it’s important to know what to look for when you’re hiring an agency.
Here are a few tips to make it a little easier to bring the right agency on board.
What Clients Used to Look For in a Paid Media Agency
Historically, tasks like basic reporting and data management were essential to paid media packages. Clients wanted to know how their ads were performing and agencies needed to manually produce status reports.
A little bit of creative ad management strategy may have been involved, but not much. Agencies spent the bulk of their time on ad campaign management.
Clients wanted to see their paid media agency elbows deep in a campaign. This meant spending as much as 80-90% of their time working within the ad campaign itself. Tasks such as launching new keywords and ads were a top priority as well as monitoring keywords and pausing underperforming ads.
Since paid media used to have very little automation tools available, managing a campaign was very hands-on. Everything that needed to be done in order for a company to run a successful paid media campaign was done manually.
What Clients Are Looking For in a Paid Media Agency Now
Paid media services, like everything in digital marketing, constantly evolve. Many tasks agencies used to do for clients are now automated.
With tools like auto-applied recommendations, enhanced conversions, value-based smart bidding, and conversion-based smart bidding, so much of that hands-on management doesn’t need to be completely manually anymore. This makes campaign management a less desirable skill for agencies to offer.
That doesn’t mean paid media services are non-existent or not profitable, though.
When looking to outsource, more companies are turning toward marketing strategy and creative auditing, making these offers more in-demand.
Where Clients Are Spending Money on Paid Media Services
To be successful, paid media agencies will need to shift their offers.
When looking to outsource, clients are focusing less on using outside agencies like task rabbits and dealing with day-to-day ad campaign management.
Instead, marketers are looking to agencies for creative auditing and development as well as an overarching strategy, advanced data, and analytics insights. Attribution and advanced measurement are also in-demand.
But perhaps the biggest shift is in how agencies and brands work together. Now, agencies have become key advisors for digital strategy and technology adoption.
Over the next few years, the campaign management aspect will only get smaller. Expect to see a much larger emphasis on overall strategic management.
How to Stand Out as a Paid Media Agency
With the influx of changes to paid media services, you’ve probably also noticed an influx of “experts”.
Now more than ever, it’s important to stand out from the crowd and show your potential clients why you are the best in the field. You need to nail down your brand value proposition.
Highlight your ability to adjust and pivot with the industry. There will always be something new on the scene with digital marketing and paid media in particular. It is important to show your potential clients that you are the type of agency that stays up on the latest trends and can roll with the punches.
Proven results and strong client recommendations will help to cement your case.
8 Things to Look For in a Paid Media Agency
Now that you know how important it is for your services to evolve with the industry, let’s talk about what brands and companies are looking for in paid media services right now.
1. Data-Driven Attribution
The first thing they’re going to look at is if you can take a final sales conversion and match it to your ad data.
This first step to achieving this goal is to set up the correct tracking. This will ensure that your conversion data is correct and that your recommendations on how to scale will also be correct.
Once you have the correct data and you can match it back to your ads, you can use it to refine the machine learning of your ads. This process is what will keep your ads growing and achieving better results.
2. Optimization Scoring
The next thing they’re going to look for is if your paid media agency actually has a way of measuring how well an account is optimized. This is called optimization scoring.
You don’t actually have to come up with your own formula for optimization scoring. Many paid media tools will provide it for you. What you need to know is how to read the score and understand where your client’s brand ranks on a scale of 0-100.
Once you have that score, you can strategize ways to optimize your ads to improve your score.
3. Auto-Applied Recommendations
Now that platforms provide auto-applied recommendations, clients want to know if their paid media agencies are taking advantage of the recommendations coming from the paid tools.
In Google Ads, you can opt-in to apply a certain subset of recommendations automatically to your account. This can improve your account performance and save time.
Not all of these recommendations will be spot on and some can be ignored, depending on the company’s business goals. It will be important that you can understand why you may or may not recommend following these suggestions. For you to make that recommendation, you’ll need to thoroughly understand your client and their goals for the future.
4. Tag Management Inside Google Tag Manager
If you are a paid media agency worth your salt, you’ll know how to set up all of your client’s tags and pixels correctly. These sizes and specs affect your data tracking, ad management, and ad performance. If they are set up incorrectly, they could throw off your whole campaign.
5. Offline Conversion Tracking
People don’t often buy immediately after seeing one ad. It is important that you can track a client’s entire buyer journey from their first exposure to your brand to the final point-of-sale.
6. Enhanced Conversions
With cookies going away, audiences provided by ads won’t be as relevant as they used to be. That’s where enhanced conversions come in.
Enhanced conversions are a feature within Google Ads that can improve the accuracy of your conversion measurement. It sends first-party conversion data from your website in a privacy-safe way.
If your advertising strategy isn’t working, your client’s business won’t scale. Understanding enhanced conversions are critical when it comes to being equipped to refine future advertising that will see better results.
7. Conversion-Based Smart Bidding
Tools like conversion-based smart bidding are great if you know how to use them. Smart bidding is a subset of automated bidding strategies that rely on machine learning to optimize for conversions.
Refining your bidding will help your clients see better ad performance and scale their business over time.
8. Value-Based Bidding
Understanding how to use value-based bidding is probably one of the most important things your client will look for in paid media services like cost-per-click advertising.
Do you know how to take that final customer and find their lifetime value?. One customer might purchase three times, while another might purchase ten times. The customer who purchases ten times is going to be more valuable to your client.
It is important that you know how to find those more valuable lifetime clients and segment them out properly. Then, you can use that information to refine your ad strategy and bid more on the customers who will spend more.
Wrapping It Up
Paid media agencies fill an important role in a marketing team ready to scale.
That role, however, has shifted and will continue to shift over the next for years.
By keeping the above strategies in mind, you’ll be able to better determine which agencies are the best fit for your brand and up to date on industry best practices.