• Alicia Caldeira

Making Paid Digital Ads Work on a Budget

Updated: Aug 24

All the rage in digital ads today may be refusing to run them.


Not all of them, but perhaps Facebook and Instagram. The Stop Hate for Profit campaign highlights how sensitive to changing norms we must be as marketers in this moment, no matter the size of our business. Color of Change called for big companies to pause their ads for July 2020 until Facebook revises their policies that enable monetized hate speech, voter suppression, and anti-Black discrimination. While your startup scale probably means no North Face-level ad bucks, it’s more important than ever to show your community that you are doing the right thing by reaching them in the right way. So how do you choose where to allocate those precious ad dollars?


Enter Eileen Chow, an innovative marketer with hands-on experience driving awareness and engagement through personalized, high-touch campaigns at scale. She is currently the Digital Marketing Manager at Zerto, based in the Greater Boston Area. Her workshop during Startup Boston’s recent Marketing on a Budget Bootcamp, How to do Paid Digital Ads, offered entrepreneurs, startup marketers, and small business owners key tips on creating effective paid digital ads.


Startups can utilize digital marketing to gain an online presence, optimize budgets, and more easily connect with customers. Compared to traditional marketing methods, digital marketing is less expensive and has a greater reach. During this workshop, Eileen emphasized the importance of digital ads in marketing strategies in this day and age. Here are some key takeaways from the workshop:


Optimize your ads’ overall score


Google Ads is an advertising platform developed by Google to enable companies to display advertisements, offerings, product listings, et cetera. within the Google Ad network to web users. Google Ads help you get in front of customers when they are searching on Google Search or Maps. At ad auctions, publishers determine which advertisement to show to which audience. The ads that get shown are those with the highest overall score.


It’s important to note that it’s not only the amount an advertiser is willing to pay which will determine if the ad will be shown. It’s the amount that each advertiser is willing to pay plus the effectiveness of the ad that is taken into consideration. The maximum bid, relevance score, and other performance metrics all need to be taken into account when creating an ad for auction. Taking all this into consideration, it is important to have a practical application plan ready for creating your ads. Seeing as how ads can be created to target certain demographics, Google’s ad-targeting algorithm has been accused of being discriminatory when creating ads for housing and employment. In recent news, Google has announced that they will be changing their advertising policies to be more inclusive, meaning that employment, housing, and credit advisers are no longer permitted to target their ads based on demographics.


Utilize different ad channels


Three different kinds of ad channels were discussed during the workshop including, social media advertising, paid search advertising, and native or display advertising. Considering these different ad channels, it’s important to think about how can a founder or, if you’re at the stage to have a marketing team, choose which channel is the right fit for their audience and product?


With social media advertising, your brand needs to be consistently and demonstrably active where your audience is, and where they expect to find you. Depending on whether you are a B2B or B2C company, it is important to know where your target audience is most active.


The list below includes platforms on which customers are conducting specific searches, ripe for seeing an ad for your idea that blows their mind. These platforms have taken steps to offer advertisers a leg up when advertising through sponsored ads.

Paid Search Advertising Platforms To Evaluate:


Native And Display Advertising:


These are digital ads across a wide range of sites and publishers. The purpose of these ads is to drive visitors to different sites. At times, they may also sometimes seem very integrated into the site and might not be as noticeable at first. Here are some resources to explore this type of advertisement:


Determine the budget


Estimating a budget is important to answer burning questions like, “Should I keep running my ads? What is my ideal budget? How much should I bid?”


Lifetime Value (LTV) x Average Lead-to-Customer Rate x Average Conversion Rate = Maximum Cost per Click


This is the formula used to calculate the maximum cost per click based on the customers worth to your company and your determined break-even cost. In most cases when it’s harder to determine the maximum cost per click, companies will take their budget and work backward based on their limitations (how much you need to bid). Based on those numbers the decision to go ahead with the bid for the campaigns will be made, bid amounts are subject to company goals and expected return on investment (ROI).


We hope you enjoyed this event as much as we did! These key insights will surely help you craft the best paid digital advertising strategy for your startup.


If you’re a marketer, Startup Boston Week’s 2020 Sales and Marketing track has perfect programming for you this year—all virtual, all Boston. Get your ticket here for events like:


See you there!


Follow Alicia Caldeira on LinkedIn here.


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