Paid media is often the most expensive, highest-impact, fastest-acting, and highest-risk component of a digital marketing strategy — all of which makes it absolutely critical to choose the right paid media agency as your partner.
What does a (good) paid media agency do?
A paid media agency manages digital advertising efforts across channels.
But a good paid media agency doesn’t just keep the lights on. They understand your business and your goals, choose the best channels for your needs, and carefully design campaigns based on your budget. They also analyze performance, report on results, and recommend ongoing optimizations to maximize ROI.
A good agency understands the differences between awareness and conversion campaigns, and what makes each successful. They can also help you achieve extremely specific goals, like building an email list of only chief technology officers or registering attendees for your upcoming webinar.
A good agency has specialists who know the ins and outs of popular ad channels, including search engines, display networks, programmatic, and social media (LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, TikTok, Twitch, etc.). They can also look at the big picture, recommending the right mix of channels that will provide optimal results for your business.
Related: Benefits and Limitations of Earned Media vs. Paid Media
How to choose the right media agency
The most important factor when choosing a paid media agency is budget. Small agencies usually can’t handle millions in ad spend, and large agencies won’t touch budgets of just a few thousand.
Salted Stone specializes in the middle of this range. Our paid media clients are typically medium to large businesses spending more than 10,000 USD per month on paid media, though we can accommodate smaller budgets in some cases.
Budget is important, but it’s not the only thing. Here are some other factors to consider when choosing a paid media partner:
Specialization, or silo?
Paid media is just one component of a digital marketing strategy. Many agencies only handle paid media, which can mean a greater degree of specialized knowledge.
But there are also risks to hiring a specialized agency. When your agency only handles paid media, it’s on you to understand how their recommendations fit into your larger digital landscape and buyers’ journeys.
An integrated agency will be better equipped to understand precisely what job your media campaigns need to do in the context of your overall digital strategy. In addition, they’ll be able to execute creative (i.e. ad assets, landing pages) in-house, usually with direct input from your paid media team.
Do they understand your goals?
The paid media world is complex and always changing. The right partner won’t just stay on top of the latest channels, technology, and trends. They’ll also understand how these things impact organizations with your business model and in your industry.
B2B and B2C media campaigns are extremely different, from channels and ad formats to KPIs and benchmarks. Beyond that, different business types have different constraints, like buying cycle and size of the target audience, which will have a huge impact on your media plan.
Ideally, an agency partner will have experience working with a business similar to yours.
How will they communicate?
Paid media is a partnership between the business and the agency. As much as you might wish it were set-it-and-forget-it, a campaign that delivers positive and ongoing ROI requires continual input from all stakeholders.
As a result, it’s extremely important to find an agency that matches your communication style. Ask prospective partners about their account services, access to media planners, and reporting cadence.
Creativity, or cookie-cutter?
Paid media is a science, but it’s also an art. What worked for one business won’t necessarily work for another, and what worked yesterday won’t necessarily work tomorrow.
For long-term success, you need a partner who can think outside the box.
Salted Stone’s approach to paid media: 4 core principles
Every media campaign designed and executed by Salted Stone looks a little different. That said, our approach is based on core principles that we bring to every account.
- Define ROI, then drive it
We understand that ROI means something different for every campaign. In our discovery process, we work collaboratively with clients to define their goals, whether it's a 20% increase in page views, 1,000 net new contacts, or even — in the case of some highly-targeted campaigns — a single closed deal.
- Test and iterate
Every campaign is an experiment. Testing and iteration are what make a campaign successful. That’s why we built our entire process around monitoring and optimization to improve performance and boost ROI over time.
- Insights equal improvement
We build all of our campaigns to deliver high-quality data from day one. That way, when we’re ready to make a change or strategize another initiative, we have all the answers we need to set our clients up for success.
- Proactive management
When we monitor active campaigns, we’re not just making sure everything is working as intended. We’re also seeking out ways to boost performance and implement new ideas — whether the client asked us to or not.
Looking for a paid media partner?
Salted Stone’s paid media team has been helping businesses strategize and execute winning campaigns for more than eight years. We work with mid-size organizations and enterprises across industries, including both B2B and B2C clients.