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How would you fancy dangling from a rope 100m above water, with a paint brush in one hand and a tin in the other? The painting of Edinburgh’s iconic Forth Bridge was a continuous process between the late 1800s and the early 2000s. It was the definition of a never-ending job.
That was until 2011 when they started using a new paint. Now the bridge only needs to be done once every 25 years.
Media buying is a bit like that. It’s an ongoing process and will never be finished. But with so many other jobs to be getting on with, your ecommerce business can’t afford to let media buying become your Forth Bridge. You need to find ways of working smarter, not harder.
With costs per click rising and paid media getting even more competitive, it’s increasingly important to get more from your spend while investing less time. It’s about finding new techniques and small margins that make your media buying smarter. Things like these…
There will always be advertisers with dedicated creative teams, bigger budgets, and more data. What is a media buyer to do in that situation? Easy: see what’s working for other companies, then adapt their ideas, designs, and content for your ecommerce business.
Underperforming and irrelevant keywords are a huge drain on ad budgets. They can drag down even the best ad. Free up budget that you can put to better use by getting rid of keywords that aren’t pulling their weight.
Dig into your keywords every couple of weeks to keep on top of them. Remove any low-performing, money-eating keywords or add them to your negative keywords list.
It’s easy to think of your ad network dashboards as places where you plan your ads, and analytics dashboards as places you go to see how they performed. Flip that on its head by using conversion data from your analytics to make your ad targeting smarter.
Refine your ads based on the locations, days, times, and devices of previous conversions. This is easier to achieve than ever with Google Analytics 4.
If you don’t currently have access to the data we’ve just mentioned, it's really simple to improve your tracking by:
A/B testing might sound like media buying 101, but it’s still an under-used way of improving ad performance. Run as many A/B tests as you can at the start of a campaign to optimise your ads. Then spend the bulk of your budget on ads that are proven to get results.
Test colours, copy, calls to action, and landing pages via split testing to see what works. When you’ve found a colour scheme, call to action, or angle that drives sales, create more ads that fit the winning formula.
Media buying will always be easier if more people are clicking your ads (as long as they’re the right people — more on that below). Increase your clickthrough rate and you’re on your way to more sales, better ROAS, and smarter media buying.
Some simple ways to improve CTR are:
1. Conducting the A/B testing we’ve suggested to optimise your ads and calls to action.
2. Using ad extensions in Google Ads:
- Sitelink extensions to link to multiple landing pages from a single ad
- Image extensions to place an image next to your ad
- Callout extensions to promote discounts, price matches, shipping deals, and other benefits of shopping at your store
3. Ensuring your keywords are highly relevant and closely related to your landing page. This improves your ad strength for better placements, lower cost-per-click, and improved CTR. It also means that those who click your ad are more likely to buy.
4. Utilising user-generated content in your ads. User-generated YouTube videos, customer reviews, Google Seller Ratings, and social media posts can boost CTR and lower cost-per-click.
5. Experimenting with different bidding strategies — like enhanced CPC, maximise conversions, maximise clicks, target return on ad spend (ROAS) and target CPA — to see the impact on costs per click, CTR, and conversions.
It’s not just what you spend. Changing how you spend can also give you better ROAS and better cash flow.
To optimise your budget:
Media planning and buying go hand in hand. Just because every other ecommerce brand is advertising on a particular network doesn’t mean you should be. Smart media planning can stretch your budget and improve your ad performance.
Channel some spend away from Facebook Ads and Google Ads. Experiment with niche channels that have high engagement and a highly relevant audience. Look for places where you might find content or conversations that are the ideal match for your products.
Video games, Discord, and Twitch are a few examples of under-valued channels where you could explore in-content and paid placement advertising opportunities.
Media buying and the associated admin can be a massive drain on time. And a massive drain on your time is a massive drain on your budget (even if it isn’t reflected in your ad spend). The answer is to do less admin.
To cut your admin:
Smarter media buying is a long-term process. Testing and optimising pay-per-click ads is always going to take time and patience to deliver the best results. But there are things we’ve mentioned that you can start doing today to improve your media buying process and ad performance. Get started right now by:
If you’ve found these media buying tips useful, you should definitely check out our other articles. Head over to our blog to read our latest blog posts.
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