Digital Advertising In A Recession – How To Create The Best Strategy?

Jelena Jeknic
Aug 1, 2022

Hello, fellow Marketers! Do you have your seatbelts fastened for yet another ride on a rollercoaster of economic decline?

If not, let us give you a couple of tips to create the best digital advertising strategy during a downturn, and you’ll be in for a smoother ride.  

As the recession progresses, the pressure to prove your return on marketing investment will increase. The Great Recession of 2008/2009, as many others before, has taught us we should maintain or increase marketing budgets during a decline in economic activity. The benefits of staying the course last for years, and they are evident in both increased incremental sales and market share. 

How to choose the best digital advertising strategy in times of fiscal stress?


Conduct an advertising analysis

First of all, take a snapshot of your current advertising budget by conducting a thorough audit. If you are already regularly performing this analysis, consider doing it by advertising strategy, channel, campaign type, platform, agency, or any other way you think it is worth looking at. 

We recommend paying special attention to campaign type. Once you have all your advertising expenses laid out in front of you, including direct (ad buying, agency fees) and indirect costs (labor), it will be much easier to decide what to do with your advertising budget.

Make ROI your guiding star

Next, focus on return on ad spend (ROAS) and make it your bottom line. Calculate the ROI for all campaigns/channels/platforms and identify which campaigns bring you more profit. Don’t just check what costs less, but what brings more profit as a %. This will allow you to optimize your budget in a smarter way. 

Don’t be afraid to stop tactics that aren’t working and move the budget elsewhere. Stop paying for channels or tools that aren’t adding value to your business. If you can’t account for each dollar spent on an ad campaign, or results are not as successful as other campaign results – these are the first red flags to look at. 

Double down on the tactics that give you more profitability. Look at the total profit, but even more, at profit as a percentage of what you’ve invested. There are many ways to improve your ROAS; still, the most important initial strategy is to focus your efforts on tactics that are most likely to be productive.

Consider shifting advertising budgets towards engagement and performance campaigns. Focus on sales-driven goals that will look great when you report on your MROI. Here are some ideas for such campaign types: acquiring new customers, creating marketing sourced or influenced revenue, generating marketing sourced leads, building or growing your contact database, growing a new sales channel, etc.

Get ready for a cookieless future

Educate yourself and your team about how to run successful digital ad campaigns without third-party cookies. Rather than relying on views and audience segments provided by DMPs, use algorithms that utilize proprietary machine learning and interest-based signals to personal experiences and optimize performance.

Avoid buying audiences using DMPs; the data might be outdated and it can be expensive. Rather, create your own first-party data. Discover your own audience.

For example, Zemanta offers CTR and CPA bidding strategies designed for discovery and prospecting. Such an approach targets environments and context, not just people. Zemanta’s algorithms can predict post-click engagement, so you can discover new, in-market, ready-to-engage, and ready-to-purchase customers, which are your optimal audiences. Be engagement-focused and concentrate on driving actions rather than just impressions.

If you want to survive and thrive, make sure to find a way not to rely on manual attribution. You could use JavaScript-powered pixels. Zemanta offers such a pixel. The Zemanta platform can also integrate your Google Analytics and Adobe Analytics data to ingest the post-click metrics and get an additional signal for your traffic performance optimization process. 

Improve your customer targeting

In addition to building your own first-party audience, or choosing a DSP with a CTR or CPA predictor that finds new and highly engaged in-market consumers, you can also revisit your buyer persona model. 

Some digital advertising campaigns are cost-inefficient because they suffer from poor customer targeting. Sometimes audiences change and marketers don’t know their target audience anymore. Spend some time reviewing your company’s or client’s buyer persona model and target audience/market and refining how you target those consumers. Once you stop spending money on people who aren’t interested in your products anyway, you’ll start noticing much better results.

Use automation offered by programmatic advertising platforms

Automation is one of the best ways to improve your advertising cost efficiency. You’ll keep your campaigns running while spending less manual effort on each task — and improving consistency at the same time.

Zemanta offers a wide range of automation options, from default settings and cloning to campaign goal optimization, budget optimization, autopilot bidding strategy, and bid modifiers. They all save you time and energy, and help you get the best possible results according to your business objectives.

Written by

Jelena Jeknic
Director of Marketing at Zemanta ∙ "My mission is to inspire growth. I’m always making sure customers receive exceptional, consistent, and relevant digital experience by successfully applying marketing, sales, and service through technology."

Let us help you deliver excellent marketing and high ROI time and again.

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