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Liza Perstneva

The Role of Paid Media in Your Marketing Mix #semrushchat

Liza Perstneva
The Role of Paid Media in Your Marketing Mix #semrushchat

It’s no secret that, today, digital marketing is no longer a single-strategy tool. It includes various channels that marketers use to promote their products and services. You might have already heard about the concept of the “digital marketing tripod," which consists of three key elements: earned, owned and paid media. Each of these elements is a vital part of any successful online marketing strategy.

But today we want to discuss in depth a certain component of the paid-owned-earned (POE) media model. In a nutshell, paid media involves paying a third party to promote your company’s content. This can help your content gain more exposure. In our latest SEMrush Chat, we discussed the role of paid media in your marketing mix with our chat participants. This time, our special guest was Gianpaolo Lorusso, a PPC expert, an experienced web marketer, a usability professional, and the organizer of the ADworld Experience conference.


Times have changed. Today, paid media goes far beyond push-style advertising. Marketers no longer aggressively promote their products and services, but effectively incorporate paid media channels into their overall marketing campaigns to gain more exposure for their content and drive traffic to their owned media properties.

We asked our guests how paid media has changed over the last few years.

Our special guest pointed out that paid media is becoming increasingly important. He explains it by the decrease of natural visibility. For example, marketers noticed the decline in Facebook organic reach in 2014. Today the social network has evolved into more of a paid marketing platform, rather that an organic one.

Another important change is better audience targeting. Many of our chat participants said that today’s ads are more targeted and personalized. Marketers are trying to reach their potential customers who are likely to be within the demographic groups that they need.

ThinkTank pointed out that today, marketers have more opportunities and are more capable of segmenting their audience. This helps them make their ads more targeted. ThinkTank also added that paid media allows companies to better understand who is engaging with their ads.

Reva Minkoff reminded us that many new features and options have emerged, which provides advertisers with more opportunities (e.g., dynamic search ads and dynamic snippets). She assumes that the basics haven't changed – you can just do more with your ads than you could before.

ThinkSEM made a good point, saying that SERPs are changing, so the ad placement is different now. Also, both Google AdWords and Bing Ads extensions provide the opportunity to add more information to your ad.

ThinkSEM also reminded us about another important update for Google AdWords: Google has officially launched expanded text ads.

Let’s see what we have so far!


Paid media has become more targeted, data-driven and competitive. Today, smart marketers can effectively incorporate it into their marketing mix to amplify their earned media.


Trends come and go in every industry, and paid media is no exception. We asked our chat participants to share their predictions and mention some paid media trends that marketers should be aware of these days.

Here are some key trends that advertisers should pay attention to, when preparing their paid media strategy.

PPC will remain important

Gianpaolo Lorusso believes that the pay-per-click advertising model will remain an important element of businesses’ marketing mix. If used correctly, paid media can be a great way to promote your content and generate more earned media.

Personalized ads

Some of our chat participants suggested that businesses must personalize their PPC campaigns to compete with rival companies online. Marketers will have to ensure that their ads are reaching the right people and that their messages are aligned with their target audience’s interests.

Customers first

As we said earlier, better audience segmentation – based on information like user’s demographics and interests – enables marketers to deliver customized messages to their audience. By using this data more strategically companies can make their messages adapted to users’ behaviors, intent, and needs. “Personas will continue to dominate as companies invest more in social and search better understand who their users are,” explains Jacques Bouchard ‏@jacquesbouchard.

Less text, more video

Video is on the rise today. It’s a powerful marketing tool for telling your audience your brand’s story, explaining your value proposition, and building long-term relationships with your clients. Annaliese Henwood ‏@MktgInnovator thinks that video and image-based media is now overshadowing text-based ads: “The attraction to video and image-based media is killing the text-based approach. Trends are steering away from full text.”

By integrating TrueView ads into the AdWords interface, Google is trying to make managing video campaigns easier. So, video ads might be the next major ad format to be displayed on SERPs.

Shift towards mobile

The number of mobile users is steadily increasing. That’s why many companies are already launching content for the so called mobile-first world in order to stay ahead of the competition and satisfy users’ needs. But it’s important to not only optimize your mobile ads, but also create a smooth mobile experience. Many companies have already made mobile-friendly websites an fundamental part of their overall digital marketing campaigns.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning will become the norm

Today artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are already becoming integral parts of marketing. “Machine learning and AI are going to increasingly become the norm,” explains Dawn Anderson.

By using these new technologies, advertisers can better understand their consumers and make their ads more effective. We expect to see AI-powered systems to better analyze big data that is coming from online interactions and social media, which means that these systems will provide better audience segmentation, enabling advertisers to reach the right people with the right messages.

Let’s sum up!


Now that we know which key trends advertisers should pay attention to today, let’s see how you can integrate paid media into your overall marketing campaign.


At the beginning of our discussion, we mentioned that paid media can be a great way to amplify your earned media. Our guests shared some best practices for integrating these two types of media to create a well-balanced marketing mix.

  • Estimate your resources and pay attention to your results

You should always estimate your advertising budget, unless you want to spend every last cent of it in just a day. And always evaluate your results. You should clearly understand which paid media strategy is driving website visits and sales. Otherwise, you might spend a large part of your ad budget and not even see any conversions.

  • Keep track of what is being said about you

Earned media is one of the most valuable types of exposure because of its potential reach and credibility. But it’s also quite difficult to gain. The amount of trust that is placed in online reviews and recommendations is incredible.

Pay attention to your online mentions, including negative comments and reviews. If you notice a negative comment, respond to it promptly and remedy the situation.

  • Consider Google Display Network’s targeting options

The goal of Google Display Network (GDN) is to deliver your message to the right customers. There are two types of GDN tools: contextual and audience-targeting tools. Contextual targeting tools match your ads to relevant webpages, while the audience-targeting tools match your ads to users who are most likely to be interested in what you’re offering. Kirk Williams recommends amplifying your earned media with geo-targeting. Geographic and language targeting provide you with great opportunities to display your ads by region, language or even postal code.

  • Use LSI keywords

Latent semantic indexing (LSI) is the part of Google’s algorithm designed to identify semantically related terms. It deciphers users’ queries in order to rank the most relevant websites. When developing your PPC campaign and performing a keyword research, look beyond primary variations of your keywords. Strengthen your PPC efforts by using LSI keywords.

  • Promote your content

Promote your best content. Create a well-planned promotional campaign. “You need a well-orchestrated campaign on an amazing piece of content. Once you create a buzz, social shares will do the work for you,” according to Pat Whalen @2patwhalen.

Larry Kim shared his organic and paid social network sharing and posting pyramid scheme:

You can find out a few other paid media best practices in the following recap.


Got any other tips that marketers can use to integrate paid media into their marketing mix? We would love to hear your thoughts on the topic!


New entrepreneurs and small businesses often struggle to raise the advertising funds necessary to thrive in competitive markets. It can be a real challenge to find powerful advertising channels they can afford.

Let’s see what effective advertising options businesses with small budgets have.

Our special guest suggested Google AdWords and Facebook ads. If you have the right offer and you’ve thoroughly planned your advertising campaign, these channels can be beneficial even if your business has a small budget.

Actually many of our chat participants mentioned social media as an effective tool for reaching your customers:

As for Google AdWords, it enables users to target specific keyword terms in order to reach customers who might be truly interested in their particular offer. Small businesses can also take advantage of the opportunity this platform provides.

Traffic Jam Media also added that both Google AdWords and Bing Ads provide vouchers to new users. These can be helpful too.

Some of our guests pointed out that companies should choose the channel that’s right for their business based on their main objective. Lawrence Jones recommended using search advertising and Reddit if your business is mainly focused on conversions, while Google Display Network and Facebook can be good options if your business is focused on traffic generation.

Vince Giglotti ‏@vgiglotti also thinks that the type of advertising channel businesses choose to use should be based on their audience and objective: “You should probably use Facebook for B2C and LinkedIn for B2B, but I'm generalizing.”

If your target audience is millennials, learn how to speak to them. Test and experiment with Snapchat and Instagram, since millennials are more likely to engage with these platforms.

“We believe Reddit is a great way to reach users who are a little bit off the grid and are opinionated,” Think Tank added.

Find search terms in your industry or niche. Niche keywords are specific long-term keywords that can be easier to rank for, as opposed to broad and popular terms, which are usually highly competitive.

As you can see, there are even plenty of opportunities for companies with small budgets to reach their goals. When you know exactly who your target audience is and where they are likely to spend their time online, you can find more people and then reach out to them.

Let’s sum up!


Many of our guest experts believe that social media is one of the best marketing options for small businesses, since it exposes your brand to millions of users at minimum expense. Today there is a diverse range of social platforms that attract different audiences.


Many of our guests mentioned that paid media is a great way to promote your content and generate more earned media. But what types of content should marketers promote through paid social?

  • Image and video-based content

People like visual content.  What’s more, they tend to absorb visual information better than text-based information, which is a phenomenon called visual information processing or visual perception. It’s our visual reasoning ability that allows us to process and interpret visual information that we experience with our eyes. “People love anything visual – images and video! Helpful content that adds value (e.g., guides) is also very shareable,” explained Traffic Jam Media ‏@trafficjammedia.

  • Content tailored to your target audience

Producing relevant and engaging content is essential for retaining readers and attracting new subscribers. To make your content relevant and engaging, you should know your audience well and provide them with content that really matters to them. Promote content that is tailored to your audience and focused on how you can actually help them.

Medium Blue ‏@MediumBlueSEM made a great point, suggesting that business let their audience tell them what content they need: “Research what types of content are popular and which pieces organic audiences like.”

  • Transactional content

The purpose of transactional content is to convince people to make a certain transaction or to move them along the funnel. Bill Slawski recommended using paid media to promote transactional pages. Ensure that your content is strategic and that it serves a clear marketing purpose.

  • Content that offers value

If you are planning to invest in social ads, make sure your offer has real value. Annaliese Henwood suggested using downloads or discounts. And these are just a few examples of content that offers value. You can also add social proof to your ad, which will show that lots of customers are happy with your products or services. But always be honest.

I like the way Robert von Heeren termed it – “digital takeaways.” This could be some useful downloadable information, or introductory articles or blog posts for your upcoming webinars or industry events.

Let’s see what we have so far.


We hope that with the help our chat participants, we demystified the role of paid media in your marketing mix. Our guests shared some powerful techniques and best practices for integrating a paid media strategy into your overall marketing campaign.

We would like to thank Gianpaolo Lorusso and our other chat participants for sharing their time, knowledge and expertise!

Liza Perstneva is a Social Media Manager at SEMrush and a #SEMrushchat host. Follow Liza on Twitter.

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