Paid Media Data: Your Foundation is Key

Posted at 8th-Feb-2023 in Hot Topics, Socialfly's How-Tos | Leave a reply

New Digital Marketing Channels and Platforms are forever popping up, making an advertiser’s mix increasingly more diverse. With this comes more challenges around how to efficiently organize, view and analyze paid media data, to make sure that you’re spending your advertising dollars in the best way possible. At Socialfly, we consider three main questions when developing our approach to this dilemma:


1. Which is more important: advertising platform data or source data?

Advertising platform data is the data that each advertising platform records and delivers. It typically includes metrics like impressions, clicks, costs and conversions. While metrics like impressions and clicks are always a direct 1:1 correlation to an account component, conversions are oftentimes treated differently. While advertising platforms used to predominantly use last click attribution (where conversions were assigned credit to a singular component within an account (i.e. a singular ad, ad group/set and campaign)), today most advertising platforms are utilizing a linear attribution model for conversions by default. Linear attribution is a multi-touch attribution model that splits conversion credit equally across each touchpoint or interaction along a customer’s journey. Simply put, this attribution model gives credit to all components that a user engaged with throughout their journey to their conversion.

Also worth noting and remembering, advertising platform data is going to be limited to just the data from that particular platform, so it will not contain any data from other platforms or other sources.

Source data is the data collected based on what channel a user came to your website from. This is not just limited to paid media traffic, but also includes sources like organic, direct, referral and email. Metrics in this type of a view include sessions, visits, bounce rates, conversions and more. This type of data is typically viewed from a last click perspective, meaning it attributes conversions to the source that the user last clicked on before they converted, regardless of whether or not they had previously engaged with other sources.

Okay, so now to get to the answer; neither is more important than the other! You should always be organizing, viewing and analyzing both your advertising platform data (typically linear data) and your source data (typically last click data). And here’s why:


  • Last click; source data is going to help you understand how much of your overall marketing budget should be going towards paid media. If paid media is your most lucrative channel you should be prioritizing it from a budget standpoint. If it’s not you should be exhausting the sources that are and figuring out how to optimize your paid media spend to make it more lucrative.
  • Linear; advertising platform data is going to help you understand what platforms and channels to prioritize within your paid media budget. Not all platforms and channels perform the same and how they perform for each brand is unique. So, in order to understand how to make the most of your paid media budget, you need to be looking at this data, too.


2. What tool(s) should I use?

The tools that you choose to use all come down to preference and what makes the most sense for your business. Each tool has varying differences as it relates to their UI and functionalities. As long as you are able to have your data in a workable format that allows you to analyze and action off of it, then there are really no wrong solutions. Here are a couple of tools that we recommend:

  • Advertising Platform Data Tools: While downloading data directly from the platforms and consolidating in excel might work for some, it’s the least efficient way to store, organize and analyze data. Every time you want to look at the data from a different view, you’ll need to redownload and reconsolidate and it means there will always be manual steps needed to have accurate, up to date data. For this reason, using a tool that automatically consolidates data and gives you the ability to organize it and normalize it is the most effective. At Socialfly, we use an awesome tool called that allows users to tap into their native APIs with platforms to access real-time consolidated data. It also gives you the ability to create custom dimensions and metrics so that you can normalize the data in a way that is right for your business.
  • Source Data Tools: Most companies use Google Analytics for this. It’s a free tool that continues to improve in functionality, so you really can’t go wrong with it. However, if you need a more complex solution and have some budget to spare, tools like Adobe and Matomo are worth exploring. Regardless of which tool you use, having accurate, organized source data is essential, so make sure you set up your tool properly and with a well thought out strategy.


3. How do I make decisions with the data I leverage?

Once your data is accurate and organized, you can start using it to dive into your KPIs. To build action items to support improvement of your KPIs, always start by looking at your data from the very top. A completely consolidated, top line view, will give you insights into overall trends. From there, break it down based on the next level of data.

For example, if you’re looking at your advertising platform data start by looking at the rollup, then dive into Platforms. Once you understand what Platform(s) is/are affecting your KPI trends, then dive into the Campaign level for those respective Platforms. Once you understand what Campaign(s) is/are affecting your KPI trends, then dive into the Ad Group level for those respective Campaigns. Then, dive into the lowest level of the data which consists of: your Ads, Placements, Targeting, Device breakdown, etc.

If you follow the trail from the highest level down to the lowest level, you will be able to understand what elements need adjusting in order to make the biggest impact overall.

In summary, in order to most successfully organize, view and analyze your data, make sure that you have a consolidated view of your advertising platform and source data. And once you do, make sure you analyze it at all levels of the data, starting at the top and working your way down to the most granular levels.

To ensure that your paid media data is optimized and to get help with identifying your paid media areas of opportunity, reach out to our team of experts at Plus, subscribe to our newsletter for updates on upcoming paid media webinars.

Written By: Kylie Castrucci, Head of Paid Media

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