The introduction of digital advertising has proven one of the largest marketing game changers across all industry verticals. Suddenly, advertisers gained more reach, better targeting capabilities and more measurable KPIs than ever before – all bundled into programs that were easy to use, access and optimize.

With greater accessibility than more “traditional” forms of advertising, digital ad buys can fall prey to the confines or excesses of a marketing budget with little to no strategy based on audience size, objective or historical data. As digital channels grow increasingly competitive, focusing on the ROI from your digital ads is critical to ensuring business impact.

Don’t bench the benchmarks

The past informs the future in all things, including your approach to digital advertising. Anticipate the potential behaviors that audiences may take within your campaign based on the historical data from your past paid activity. This can include things like click-through rate (CTR), cost per click (CPC), engagement rate and video view rate (VVR). The most important benchmark to keep in mind is cost per thousand impressions (CPM), which provides a measurable basis for assigning costs to reaching your goal.

To reach enough of your target audience to make a splash, set a minimum of 40% of the forecasted volume of users/impressions offered by the ad channel. Based on that benchmark, your desired delivery frequency and your CPM benchmark, you can estimate the cost associated with delivering ads to that audience.

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Once you have identified your estimated impressions and cost, you can use performance-based benchmarks like CTR, VVR, and Engagement Rate to forecast the volume of users who are likely to take the desired action promoted in your campaign.

Make your money go miles

By applying benchmarks to properly refine target audiences, you can not only save money but also use it more efficiently, improving your results just by introducing a methodology to your approach.

For example, if you have $5,000 to run a short campaign on Facebook but realize after forecasting that you can reach your audience for $3,500, you’ve just identified $1,500 to apply toward supplemental digital marketing activities, whether introducing a new channel or redirecting budget to boost your organic promotions.

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Predict the future

Now that you have mastered the basics, you can begin to forecast for a multi-phased (and multi-faceted) campaign. For example, when you run a campaign with the goal of generating form submissions on a landing page, you may want to predict what potential retargeted audiences will look like at various points within your campaign. You can build this forecast based on KPIs like VVR, post engagement, CTR and conversion rate.

Mastering these elements will allow you to refine and optimize your campaign tactics if you find you aren’t reaching your KPIs as expected. It also ensures that you can allocate the right budget to more sophisticated approaches.


In an increasingly competitive digital landscape, your approach to budgeting and planning digital ad campaigns must be equipped to deal not only with a saturated ad market but also with audiences who are more fatigued than ever. By anticipating your audience size and forecasting their potential action(s), you can make better use of your digital marketing budget and fortify your campaign strategy with a strong competitive advantage.


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