Do you need a media plan in PPC?
This article was based by podcast. In it, we will discuss the feasibility of creating media plans. We will explore whether it’s possible to create an honest media plan, predict the cost per click and traffic volume, and whether it’s worth setting false expectations for clients.
We will also explain why at Roman.ua, we don’t use media plans and what alternative approaches can be taken.
Why are media plans evil?
Hello, it’s Roman Rybalchenko, the founder of the agency Roman.ua. Today, we will talk about evil — the evil that exists in the market and is still there in the work of internet marketers, clients, stakeholders, agencies, and numerous contractors.
This evil has a simple name — media plans. Why do I consider media plans to be evil? Because a media plan is an attempt to foresee the future which depends on multiple factors.
It is particularly common for media plans to aim at predicting the future for new businesses, in new directions, without the ability to look at historical data from their advertising campaigns. It goes approximately like this: “Create a plan for us—how many clicks, impressions, CTR—we won’t grant you access or show you what we’ve done before, and tell us if we can earn more.”
What’s the problem with media plans?
Most often, these media plans are created by taking wild guesses or rolling the dice. It’s all approximate, with significant errors that can deviate several times in different directions. The goal of these media plans is usually just to make the client buy into it. The marketer or agency representative adjusts the client’s desired outcomes to fit the media plan. They understand that it will be psychologically challenging for the client to see a $5 cost per click, so they write $1 without even verifying if it’s possible to achieve the desired traffic volume at that price.
Media plans try to incorporate highly dependent metrics. These dependent metrics include the cost per click, the number of clicks, and sometimes conversion rates and the total number of conversions.
Naturally, it’s clear that higher cost per click can potentially yield more clicks, but in some niches, there may be very few clicks available. In some niches, there is trust in a dominant player. In certain niches, SEO specialists actively monitor them, resulting in inflated figures shown by tools like Google Keyword Planner, Yandex WordStat, and others. Essentially, every SEO specialist who checks their website’s positions for a specific query generates, let’s say, 30 impressions for that keyword per day in the search engine. Consequently, an agency employee sees that the keyword has 720 monthly searches, and they assume an approximate CTR of 10%, resulting in 70 clicks for that keyword. But it’s not guaranteed.
First of all, it’s not guaranteed that this specific keyword is searched 720 times and not this keyword plus some additional words. And yes, it also depends on the internet marketer’s ability to write the operators correctly.
Secondly, it’s not guaranteed that it’s actually searched that much. It could be all SEO specialists who are monitoring it.
That’s why I don’t recommend media plans. We don’t create them. Because then the opposite situation arises. The campaign is launched, the client comes and says, “You promised us this much here, but we’re not achieving that – you’re doing a poor job,” yes, so the opposite situation is that these media plans are often underestimated in order to overachieve the so-called plan. But what are they overachieving? They are overachieving their imagination, which has little to do with reality.
Media plans don’t account for risks
We’ve encountered situations where there’s a media plan stating that a certain amount should be spent on one channel per month, and another amount on another channel. This media plan is created, approximate click price thresholds are set, and then it turns out that ads on the first channel take a long time to pass moderation and can’t start running, and the client has chosen, for example, some non-classical replenishment scheme, through intermediaries, and the money takes a long time to reach the account. And then, God forbid, if some account gets banned, it needs to be unbanned, sorted out, and send guarantee letters to representatives of that advertising platform.
Inefficient use of the budget
In general, all of this cannot be accounted for in a media plan. Life, unfortunately, is more complex and multifaceted, and anything can happen. But in the media plan, it’s stated that a certain amount of money should be spent on a specific tool X per month, and then the paid traffic specialist faces a dilemma: either follow the media plan and try to spend the money urgently, try to find some volume of clicks urgently, or negotiate with the client and redistribute all these budgets, which is good, or… some people deceive, cheat. Well, why?
And there can be the opposite situation: a general budget is set, a budget for a channel is set, ads are launched, one channel shows very good conversions, a very good conversion price, while the other shows terrible prices. And this rigidity in media planning for such bureaucratic clients who want to envision how the future will look leads to the fact that the contractor is forced to spend money on an inefficient channel and can’t do anything about it because, well, we have approved these volumes, and therefore we have to spend them.
That’s why media plans are evil. I don’t recommend using them in business, I don’t recommend forming incorrect expectations for clients about what we can assume, what the future will bring, what the click price will be, what the volume of traffic will be.
How to replace the media plans?
It’s better to launch either test campaigns, flights, or simply agree on the click price, conversion rates, and the effectiveness it should all work with, with thresholds that depend not on the number of impressions but on how much revenue the business generates from a specific click. And adjust the click price, budgets, and the distribution of these budgets based on these metrics.
In this regard, internet stores usually do the best job. If it’s profitable, they scale it. The same goes for product companies: if it’s profitable, we increase budgets, on the fly, in the process, for specific directions, already seeing real statistics, when we see the potential for growth while creating additional landing pages, working on new regions, creating campaigns for additional directions. And this approach is more flexible, it allows you to maximize the existing traffic at the moment.
May the power of proper planning be with you. May the power be with the advertising campaign that generates profit, to have the ability to scale it and earn more.