How to Expand to New PPC Ad Channels

Scenic photo of a cloudy sky and road

This is the second post in a two-part series covering When & How to Expand to New PPC Ad Channels.

In my previous post, I shared some recommendations to help you determine if it’s time to expand to new ad channels. Key considerations should be your existing channel performance, your budget availability, and your goals for the year. If you’ve checked all these boxes, the next question to answer is: how exactly should you go about expanding to new channels?

Know Your Audience

Who is your target demographic? Knowing your own target audience will help you determine what channels to test next, as audiences can vary greatly from channel to channel.

From there, you need to do your research on channel audience demographics so you know where your target audience is spending their time online. There are lots of resources out there to discover this info, such as research from Sprout Social, statista, and the Pew Research Center. If you have specific channels in mind, you can also work on contacting a rep directly to see if they can send over this info to know if you have a good match.

My biggest recommendation at this stage is to not make assumptions about what you think is a channel’s main demo. Audience migration is real, and what you uncover in the research stage might surprise you. For instance, did you know that Pinterest’s Gen Z user base grew 50% year-over-year, a higher growth rate than Millenials at 36%, and Gen Z is currently Pinterest’s fastest-growing segment? Additionally, half of Pinterest users live outside the US. I wouldn’t have guessed any of that to be true for Pinterest.

Screenshot of active Pinterest user statistics

It’s crucial to do this kind of research before investing money in a new platform. You should have good research data to back up your decision about where you test next.

Request More Info

Once you’ve narrowed down what channel(s) you want to pursue it’s time to reach out to a rep and request more information. You can ask for audience demographic information to support your own research, but here’s a short list of some other key items to ask about:

  • Is there a spend minimum?
  • Are campaigns self-managed or does a platform specialist have to manage your campaigns?
  • What are the available targeting options (geo, age, interests, keywords, etc.). You should also ask what platform-specific options are available. For example, Spotify offers some cool features like Fan Base targeting and real-time context targeting.
  • What are the available ad formats?
  • Do they have benchmarks on conversion rates from other similar advertisers they can share?
  • Are there any suggested best practices for targeting selections and/or ad copy?
  • Do they have suggestions for keywords or targeting they believe would be a good fit for your business?
  • Are there retargeting options in the platform?
  • Once you have chosen your campaign targeting can they provided estimated volume, or do they have a traffic estimator in the platform?

Vet the Platforms

Once you know what’s available to you from the different platforms, compare them! Here are some examples:

  • Does one platform have a spend minimum that’s higher than your test budget? You might want to start with a different channel.
  • Does one platform not offer a self-serve option, so you’ll have little control over the campaign itself? You might want to start somewhere else instead.
  • Have video ads historically driven great results for your product or service and one platform doesn’t support those but another one does? You might want to test out the latter channel first.

Ultimately, you should test the platform that can best support your goals. For example, one of our clients has a new Lookbook offer they’re going to test in Q2. Facebook has been our primary advertising channel for them, so we’re going to test the new offer there. However, due to the nature of the Lookbook, we’ll also be using some budget to test this offer on Pinterest as well since this is a visual channel where users are looking for inspiration.

Test Strategically

In my first post, I touched on how to determine how much budget to allot to a new channel test. What I want to mention here is that based on your goal and offer, a steadily paced budget might not make the most sense.

For example, we ran a full-funnel strategy across multiple channels for a client not long ago. As we put together our testing plan, we realized that the best way to help nurture these leads over the course of our test period was to weigh the budget more heavily to our top-funnel campaigns during the first weeks of the test and gradually shift more budget to our mid and bottom-funnel campaigns. This way, we were filling the funnel more heavily initially and then using our test dollars to help nurture the leads through to our bottom-funnel actions.

Keep Your Eyes on the KPIs

As with any new venture, you’ll want to clearly outline your test goals and associated KPIs. If your goal is boosting Brand awareness, your KPIs will look much different than if your goal is to increase your pool of quality leads.

An Account Example

Keep an open mind as you go into your test periods, as channel performance might surprise you. For instance, we recently ran a Freemium offer for a client that targeted people in Management positions. We launched on Facebook first and saw registrations around $3, so we expanded to LinkedIn as well due to the nature of our target audience and LinkedIn’s targeting capabilities. We know that LinkedIn can tend to be more expensive than Facebook, so we set our bids and budgets very low to start. Despite that, our CPRs were significantly higher on LinkedIn at $37. Even though we know LI can be pricier, we were still surprised to see the vast difference in CPRs. We’ll be working with the client to understand any lead quality differences between the channels, but at face value, Facebook was the better performer and we allocated the bulk of the budget there.

You should have a sense of your tolerance levels going into an initial test and learn period. What’s the highest CPA you can tolerate before a lead is unprofitable? How long can you float a poor ROAS before you’re losing too much money? Go into your tests with an open mind, knowing there will be a learning period, but you should also have a good idea of when you’ll need to shut things down.

Taking Risks

I think a major lesson we learned in 2020 is that the businesses that can survive in challenging economic times are the ones willing to take risks. It’s easy to sit back and keep letting your existing paid ad channels drive your revenue, but the more you can diversify where your quality leads or sales are coming from, the more nimble you can be as a business, the more willing you are to try something new — the better chance you have of survival.

Spend some time evaluating the risk you’re taking by testing a new channel, set clear goals, and go into the testing phase with an open mind. Sometimes the biggest risks bring the biggest rewards. You won’t know until you try!

What new channels have you tested recently? What was your game plan? Did you see success? Let us know in the comments below!