Digital Advertising: Where To Start

Krystal Vela
Krystal VelaMedia Director

In the past few years, I have worked with several clients who wanted to expand their digital advertising efforts but had no idea where to start. They asked to advertise on Facebook because it’s the “cool” thing to do, or they wanted to run on websites that they themselves visited regularly. These are common scenarios of what clients are thinking in regards to digital advertising, and our job as media experts is to bring them back to first answer a few key questions: 

  • WHAT are the goals? 
  • WHO is the audience? 
  • WHAT message do we want to communicate? 
  • IS there a set budget? 

These questions are the basis for traditional media planning but are also key elements in developing a digital media plan. The answers to these questions, as well as knowledge of any traditional media efforts, will work together in developing specific digital strategies that in turn determine the recommended digital channels.   

Identify the Goal 

It all starts with identifying the primary goal of your digital advertising efforts. This could be to build awareness, drive customers to your client’s new website, or it could be to increase online ordering by 25% for your client’s restaurant. Working with your client to identify the goals of the digital campaign and how those goals will be measured is a must before any digital efforts are launched. Once there are solid goals at the foundation of the digital advertising campaign, then strategies that explain “how” the goals will be accomplished can be built.     

Who is the Audience?

There are some clients that will have a very clear understanding of who their target audience is for their product. However, many times clients need our help identifying their primary audience in which research tools such as Scarborough and Simmons can be used to create a target profile. A target profile can help identify key demographic info, interests, behaviors, and attitudes which can be used as targeting options within digital tactics. Sometimes a target profile can also provide insights that help drive the creative strategy.  The more information you know about the audience, the better you can plan how and where to reach them in the vast digital space.

Digital Tactics

Once there is a strategic foundation for your digital advertising plan, you can shift your focus to tactics that can be used to deliver the message and reach the target audience. The diagram below is a helpful tool to identify what roles various digital channels play in the marketing funnel. 


The top of the funnel focuses on awareness in which digital channels—such as YouTube or streaming TV—can be used to reach a more broad audience or help identify a new audience that is likely to convert. As your audience becomes increasingly aware of your client’s brand, they move further down the funnel into consideration; where more targeted tactics such as programmatic buying or social media are to be considered. Once your audience has reached the bottom of the funnel, the primary goal becomes driving conversions; where tactics like search and retargeting are key. Most of these digital channels have the capabilities to target your audience based on behaviors, geography, interests, demographics, device, or topics. The ability to tailor your creative message to your audience in each stage of the funnel, will make your campaign more relevant and cost effective. 

Other Considerations

Just like in traditional media planning, there are always other things that may be important to consider when planning a digital media campaign. Below is a list of additional factors to consider before or during the planning stages:  

  • Competitive landscape
  • Seasonality
  • Availability of creative assets: video, banners, content, website, etc.
  • Client’s online presence: website/SEO, social media pages, Google Places, Yelp, etc.
  • Social media engagement
  • Digital as a component of the overall marketing media mix
  • Access to CRM data
  • Measurements of success


Overall, it is important to guide clients to be as strategic with digital media efforts as you would be when planning traditional media. Knowing where to start and the elements that are important to the planning process, are key in launching successful digital campaigns. 

If this information was helpful but you have additional questions or would like help getting started with digital advertising, feel free to contact us.