5 Steps to a Successful Paid Advertising Campaign

From the days of newspaper ads to the digital age we're in now, media planning and buying has always been a big part of our industry. As digital and print paid advertising continues to change and evolve, marketers are learning how to do both most effectively.

We're learning all the time at Torque. Here are the steps we've compiled from our experience in paid advertising.


1. Defining goals

First step: Have a discovery session to set expectations and create goals. If you don’t know what you’re trying to achieve with your campaign, you won’t get anywhere.

At Torque, we help our clients define a foundational strategy. We discover by asking:

  1. How much money should be allocated to the plan—how much budget do we have to work with?

  2. Who are we really trying to reach with theses ads?

  3. What media channels make the most sense for us?

  4. What is the most important outcome? Is it to get lead conversions/generate sales, or do we simply want to get our name out there/gain awareness of the business/product?

From there, recommendations are made for which media channels we want to focus on and within what budget.


2. Develop the creative campaign:

An engaging message and eye-catching design is crucial, and is the difference between digital ads getting clicks, a print ad standing out--or not! We use the brand strategy to build a distinct creative campaign that urges the viewer to interact. A sense of consistency in design and messaging throughout the entirety of a media plan is important to help your your target audience recognize your brand. Think of the simplistic Snapchat branding with the white ghost and yellow background.


3. Determine what’s best for your company – print or digital (or a mix)?


Today, in our highly-digital and tech-focused society, print ads are becoming less and less common. As much as the market is leaning on digital, at Torque, we still believe in the enormous impact that a lavish full-page or fold-out color ad can have when placed in front of the right audience in the right publication. If you go small and bland, you’re at risk to be looked over! See some print creative that’s blown us away.

But large and unique print pieces with a “wow” factor aren’t cheap, so a company needs to be ready to make an investment in order to catch the eye of their target in this way. It’s also important that the chosen publications have a high circulation (put simply, that a lot of people are going to open that magazine) so there’s more opportunities for the right people to see the ads.

One drawback of print, however, is that, unlike digital, it’s hard to track who’s engaging with your print ad, and to know if the right people are paying attention.



Digital advertising can be very effective for many reasons. Digital ads, aside from being cost-effective, can be extremely targeted to the correct audience—that is, the target demographic sees the ads more often, which gives each ad more value and impact. Tracking is pretty simple online as well—it’s easy to see what ads were most popular, how many times an ad was clicked, and even what website new leads came from. Just make sure you have all the tracking analytics set up beforehand!

From a creative standpoint, the great thing about digital ads is that they can interact with viewers in a completely different way than print—the ads can blink, play video, or even turn into an interactive game. Typically, the more interactive the ad, the more memorable (and awesome!) you’ll be in the mind of your customer. Check out these guys who get it.

Once you’ve decided on your goals, creative, and medium, it’s time to purchase ad space. For digital ads, there are a few ways this can be done.


4. If digital, choose Targeted Ad Network or direct-from-publisher

Sometimes it’s a challenge to know where money is best spent in a digital ad campaign. At Torque, we swear by Targeted Ad Networks. In easy-to-explain terms, a vertical ad network uses behavioral technology to pinpoint your target market and track what sites they’re visiting. Then, it takes inventory from a wide variety of websites/publishers, and matches your ads to the correct websites, based on your company’s target. This provides lots of ad traffic (to the right people) at a lower cost than buying direct from a digital publication – but you don’t necessarily know all the different websites where your ads are featured.

The second option is buying direct from a website/pub for its space. This is typically a much more expensive route, but you are guaranteeing that your ad will show up in a place that you feel is important. However, traffic and impressions are generally lower (depending on industry). For example: Let’s say you’re a B2B company that sells fruit flavors to ice cream companies. Buying ad space on Dairyfoods.com direct from a rep at that publication would be expensive, yet highly targeted.


5. Test period - And Beyond

We always recommend a one-month test period for our clients who are executing digital media advertising campaigns. After a month, we collect data to see which ads were most effective, and what sites were the most successful at drawing an audience and reaching the target. Then we re-evaluate the rest of the year’s plan to ensure that our clients’ budget is being used in the best way, and that we’re reaching as many relevant people as possible. In past experience, we’ve changed media plan’s drastically with our clients once we check out the first month’s results. And because of this, we get more impressions and value out of the rest of our ad spend.

But re-evaluation doesn’t end after the initial test period. Something to remember about paid media is that it’s always changing. In a digital campaign, proper tracking and data analysis each month helps ensure that money is being allocated in the right places. It also gives insight into how beneficial a media execution has been for lead generation and awareness.

For print ads, the publication can usually tell you overall impressions so you get a good sense of how many people saw your ad. But in digital, you can get data much faster, and get much more of it, so you can be a lot more agile.


At Torque, we tend to lean heavily on the flexibility and agility of digital ads while still including at least one unique print piece to make a statement. The solution is different for every business – but with creativity, smart strategy, careful placement and some tracking, you’ve got a recipe for success.