When you buy a new car, all of the essen­tial fea­tures are already built in. You don’t need to dri­ve around from ven­dor to ven­dor to have your stereo, cruise con­trol, pow­er win­dows, and air con­di­tion­ing installed. That would be a night­mare — and so would the ongo­ing main­te­nance of those fea­tures. You’d have to jug­gle sev­er­al dif­fer­ent con­tracts and devel­op rela­tion­ships with each indi­vid­ual man­u­fac­tur­er.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, unlike car buy­ing, dig­i­tal media buy­ing has long reflect­ed this ardu­ous, frag­ment­ed process.

As dig­i­tal has evolved into the lead­ing for­mat for media, effec­tive mar­ket­ing requires expo­nen­tial­ly more time and labour. Media chan­nels have expand­ed from a few tra­di­tion­al medi­ums with lim­it­ed con­tent place­ments to mil­lions of web­sites, apps, and devices — and each medi­um yields troves of data that must be man­aged and ana­lyzed.

Because of this com­plex­i­ty, brands have his­tor­i­cal­ly been forced to piece togeth­er cam­paigns that uti­lize an aver­age of five dif­fer­ent tech­nolo­gies from up to four dif­fer­ent dig­i­tal media ven­dors. Nat­u­ral­ly, this cre­ates a num­ber of dif­fi­cul­ties.

One of the main issues is cost; bud­get must be allo­cat­ed to indi­vid­ual ven­dors from the out­set of the cam­paign. Then, if per­for­mance dic­tates a real­lo­ca­tion, the process of redis­trib­ut­ing bud­get expen­di­tures requires the headache of chang­ing mul­ti­ple con­tracts.

On top of that, when mul­ti­ple ven­dor plat­forms are involved, data becomes siloed. Data should be the lifeblood of every dig­i­tal cam­paign, but when it’s locat­ed in mul­ti­ple dis­joint­ed spread­sheets, unearthing key insights becomes an uphill bat­tle.

These inte­grat­ed plat­forms allow for more stream­lined exe­cu­tion of media dis­tri­b­u­tion. While self-ser­vice á la carte may appear to pro­vide more flex­i­bil­i­ty and con­trol, all-inclu­sive ser­vice deliv­ers a greater lev­el of exper­tise, along with an increased breadth of capa­bil­i­ties.

Key insights aren’t lost when data is aggre­gat­ed with­in a sin­gle plat­form. Cam­paigns stay on track, and mar­keters can accu­rate­ly and con­fi­dent­ly adjust them based on what’s work­ing. Elim­i­nat­ing one pro­gram and increas­ing the bud­get of anoth­er is a snap, which means agen­cies can devel­op more thor­ough and nuanced strate­gies.

For mar­keters who decide to lever­age this rel­a­tive­ly new option, here are three impor­tant things to keep in mind to max­i­mize your ROI:

1. Com­pile and share first-par­ty data: First-par­ty data stems from your web­site users’ actions, sub­scrip­tion or social media data, and data from mobile and web apps.

Because it comes straight from your audi­ence mem­bers or cus­tomers, first-par­ty data is your most valu­able data. It’s absolute­ly crit­i­cal to your dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing strat­e­gy. Shar­ing it with a media buy­ing agency allows it to tap into a resource you already have and turn it into new cus­tomers and ROI.

2. Rede­fine your audi­ence strat­e­gy: When you can accu­rate­ly define your tar­get audi­ence, your mar­ket­ing dol­lars are bet­ter spent because your mes­sag­ing is more like­ly to reach the con­sumers who will actu­al­ly respond to it. Unsur­pris­ing­ly, com­pa­nies that tru­ly under­stand who they’re tar­get­ing are near­ly one-third more prof­itable than those that don’t.

Instead of iden­ti­fy­ing audi­ences through sur­vey or syn­di­cat­ed data and mea­sur­ing them as an index, try cre­at­ing an audi­ence map that seg­ments con­sumers based on their attrib­ut­es and behav­iors.

3. Set and track short- and long-term KPIs: Don’t track every met­ric under the sun; boil your mea­sure­ment efforts down to the data pro­vid­ing the most rel­e­vant and valu­able infor­ma­tion.

Rather than sim­ply col­lect raw num­bers, track met­rics that include the cost and per­for­mance of var­i­ous strate­gies. These fig­ures will pro­vide the best insights regard­ing your goals — and they will illu­mi­nate how to achieve them.

Some sol­id met­rics to track include cost per impres­sion, cost per action, and on-tar­get per­cent­age. All of these will indi­cate how effec­tive­ly and effi­cient­ly your media buy­ing strat­e­gy is reach­ing your intend­ed audi­ence and dri­ving pos­i­tive busi­ness out­comes.

Part­ner­ing with an all-encom­pass­ing media plat­form will offer your brand a much broad­er and more accu­rate per­cep­tion of its cam­paigns’ suc­cess­es and fail­ures. How­ev­er, don’t for­get that suc­cess­ful part­ner­ships are a two-way street. Fol­low­ing the above tips will max­i­mize your ROI and lead to a fruit­ful expe­ri­ence.

By doing away with what has tra­di­tion­al­ly been a com­pli­cat­ed data aggre­ga­tion process across mul­ti­ple ven­dors, a sin­gle plat­form can more effec­tive­ly turn dol­lars into con­ver­sions and improve mar­ket­ing ROI.