CTM Blog

Smart Route Podcast

Buy This, Not That! Tools for Buying & Measuring Paid Ads

by Hannah Hanover

Buy This, Not That! Tools for Buying & Measuring Paid Ads

Listen Time: 21 Minutes

With so much financial uncertainty, businesses really want to know exactly what works and what doesn’t with the money they’re spending on advertising.”

Lisa Salvatore

Spending your advertising budget wisely has never been more important. According to Deloitte’s Annual CMO Survey, most businesses will set aside about 13.6% of their total budget for marketing in 2023 (up from 9.7% in 2021). Notably, B2B businesses allocate a full 7.8% of their entire revenue to marketing!

So where is this chunk of change going? 

Much of this budget will go to digital advertising, with an emphasis on social media and up-and-coming media platforms (here’s looking at you, TikTok). This means that agencies and in-house marketing teams will need to savvy up on the best paid media tools and metrics they need to make the most of their ad budget. 

According to CTM’s Senior Paid Media Manager, Lisa Salvatore, “There’s no longer an excuse for spending ad dollars on platforms that don’t perform well.” Thanks to today’s many free and low-cost paid media management tools and platforms, such as Google Analytics and Google Ads, tracking and optimizing ads has never been cheaper or more streamlined.  

In fact, according to Salvatore, any business can start buying and tracking ads for as little as $5 a day. Integrated management and CRM tools are available to businesses of any size wanting to advertise more efficiently, even on a modest budget. 

Smart Route host Courtney Tyson sat down with Salvatore  to get an insider’s look into media buying today. Let’s listen in as they discuss moving away from traditional marketing channels, the tools today’s paid media specialists can’t live without, and the top advertising trends to watch in 2023.

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About Lisa Salvatore

Lisa Salvatore is Senior Manager of Paid Media at CallTrackingMetrics. Bringing over 15 years of paid media knowledge and expertise to the team, she is always finding  new and innovative ways to promote call analytics and marketing attribution solutions to businesses. Lisa helps marketers find the actionable data they need to confidently make marketing decisions, increase conversions, and drive revenue.

Prior to CTM, Lisa partnered with clients in the automotive, education, charitable giving, real estate, home services, and software verticals in her account and strategy roles at multiple digital advertising agencies.

Episode Transcript


Hello and Happy New Year. Welcome to episode 23 of Smart Route, which is coincidentally our very first episode of 2023! 

Over the past couple of years, we’ve covered an array of topics on Smart Route that apply to marketers, but one we haven’t touched on just yet is media buying. So today I’m super excited to sit down with my colleague and CTM’s Senior Manager of Paid Media, Lisa Salvador to talk more about the new age of media buying, what this used to look like and what it looks like in today’s digital. 


Thank you for being here, Lisa. 

[Lisa Salvatore]

Thanks Courtney. Thanks for having me. 


Excited to have ya. And before we dive in, I wanna share a little bit more about you with our audience.

So as Senior Manager of Paid media at CTM, Lisa finds new and innovative ways to promote our call analytics and marketing attribution solutions to businesses and marketers looking for the actionable data they need to confidently make their marketing. Increased their conversions and drive revenue.

She has more than 15 years of paid media knowledge and expertise. And prior to CTM, she partnered with clients in the automotive education, charitable giving, real estate, home services and software verticals, , in her account strategy roles at multiple advertising agencies. So she has a ton of experience in this and super excited to learn from her today.

So thank you again, Lisa, for taking time out of your day to chat with us. 

[Lisa Salvatore]

You’re welcome. 


So when I think about media buying, I kind of think about traditional media, right? And the days of the brands competing for these like extremely heavily expensive Super Bowl ads. Or how about the days of like the whole Coke and, and Pepsi advertising saga.

But, and I know a lot has changed since then,  tell us more about how things have changed over the years and can you also give us a quick look at just kinda what media buying meant in the past versus what it means today? 

[Lisa Salvatore]

Sure. Yeah. And I actually think of it the same way too, at first, right?

Because that’s what we grew up in, right? Even when, when we started. , I think in the industry, that’s how it was. Right, but yeah I think it should not come as a surprise to anyone That media buying has changed a lot and that is because the majority of it today is digital. And many of the traditional ways we think about buying media in the past, don’t really exist anymore.

So today media buying, it’s, it’s automated, it’s highly targeted, and that wasn’t always possible in the past. As a media buyer, you had to rely on information like circulation, subscription voles, TV ratings, , to make your buying decisions, you know, you would have an ad budget, you would buy placements in these traditional media outlets like tv, radio, , newspaper magazines, industry pubs, things like that.

And, you know, you could sometimes narrow your targeting a bit, maybe to a specific, specific section of the newspaper, for example. But how did you know if someone who was reading about football or listening to the radio during a certain time period was really interested in what you were selling, right?

It was a guessing game, if the audience you were reaching was truly in market was aware of your brand or was making a purchase from your ads. So it was tough, and you know, it’s just changed so much. Now, today, you can target really specific audiences you still target broad audiences if you want.

You can use your own data, uh, you can control how much you wanna spend and when, , and so on. And then really you can measure your performance today all the way down to the ad dollar to know what works and what doesn’t. And it’s just really all about the data now. So, on one hand, you know, media buyers have a lot more control today than they did in the past.

But on the flip side, they just face more pressure and higher expectations to deliver results. , and then, you know, I think all that being said, a lot of it is still the same, right? It’s still competitive. It can be costly. Some of it is still fragmented. And you need strong messaging creative to resonate with your audience and there needs to be a strategy, right?

That and there always needs to be a strategy for your media buying that has not changed. 


Sure. And, and that’s all great. And so kind of what I’m hearing is that. Technology is what has helped media buying evolve. Right now it’s automated, targeted, measurable as, as you said, said it’s no longer this, this guessing game.

And now there are different tools out there, right, that marketers can use. So let’s talk about that a little bit. What tools can you use to make media buying more effective, easier, impactful, especially if you’re an agency?

[Lisa Salvatore]

Sure. And yeah, you’re right. There are so many tools out. So if you’re an agency,, or if you work in-house, when it comes to, to buying media, I think at the core there are three main things you wanna accomplish, right?

You wanna be efficient with your time, you want to maximize your return on investment, and you wanna prove that your efforts are working. So when you think about that and you start deciding what tools you need to accomplish that, there’s quite a few. So, I can talk through a couple. I think to start you, you just definitely wanna make sure you have your conversion tracking in place, for whatever ad ad channels you’re running on.

Because that’s how you’ll know if you’re actually driving the results from your media buying so you can use tools like Google Tag Manager to really simplify that process or you can use the ad platforms themselves, but it’s critical. So make sure you have that set up. And don’t forget about a tool like Google Analytics.

You want to know what your visitors are doing on your site after they come from these ad campaigns you’re running. You also want a CRM tool to house your leads. Because there’s so much you can do with that data. For example, you can build audience lists for targeting or exclusion from your CRM data and at an agency especially, sometimes the client will own that tool. So you just wanna make sure you know what to ask for and how to gain access to that data so you can leverage it. Another tool I mentioned earlier. The importance of data, right? Data is king in digital media buying. So you don’t wanna neglect that.

So you’ll want an automated reporting tool or dashboard like a Tableau or Google’s Looker Studio is great. So that way you can visualize your data, compare it, connect it, present it, and so on. You just, no, you no longer need to spend hours manually compiling your data.

Another tool to think about if you want to run ad placements across multiple channels at once, like a display, native connected TV, audio, for example. And if you have enough budget and resources, you should definitely consider a programmatic advertising platform.

They just can provide a lot of automation, reach, and detailed targeting for you. And lastly, For tools I have to plug CallTrackingMetrics here. An analytics, attribution and reporting solution that can connect all of your media sources and integrate with the tools you’re already using provides so much value.

Being able to attribute your data, qualify it and build customer reports is just a no-brainer. And it’s just hard to imagine agencies not using a tool like CTM, just no question. You know, we’re talking about media buying today.  as we go forward and in the future. There’s no question that it’s just gonna come to rely on things like conversation intelligence, marketing automation, machine learning, and a lot of it already is.

So you can get all of that from CallTrackingMetrics. Okay. I could go on and on  about tools, but I think that’s a good start. Yeah. And it’s crazy to think about marketers having to execute their media buying strategy without all of these tools and not having all of this data behind their efforts. Like in, in the past it wasn’t a thing.


And now that these all, all these tools are out there to help support them in their efforts and their strategy, it’s like, You need to be using them, right? Mm-hmm.  in order to make sure that you’re executing and, and being successful. So just to recap, some of the tools that Lisa had suggested using to support your media buying strategy, definitely need an analytics reporting or attribution tool, , that can connect all of your media sources together.


A CRM, or Customer Relationship Management tool, is important, you said for that lead tracking, right? An automated reporting tool or dashboard you mentioned to blow Google’s locker studio, something that kind of helps. You know, comprehensively pull all of that data together, get you an overview. Right? You mentioned a Proma programmatic partner, and then of course , Google Tag Manager as a tool too.

And then of course you mentioned call tracking . So all great examples of tools that could be used to support a media buying strategy. And again, all of those kind of tie into data measurement, , and data and measurement, right? So these are more important than ever in media buying. 

Why is  data measurement more important than ever and how do you measure success, Lisa? 

[Lisa Salvatore]

Sure, well, it’s a digital world today, right? There’s no denying it, and that means. Almost everything we do online can be tracked, and that includes digital ad campaigns. So media buyers really can and should measure all the media they buy and leverage their data effectively , so they can fully understand the impact of where they’re putting their ad dollars.

It’s really what it comes down to and especially at times like this, I think when, you know, there’s so much financial uncertainty, you know, will there be a recession this year? Are consumers going to be spending less? With so many unknowns, I think businesses really want to know exactly what works and what doesn’t when it comes to the money they’re spending on advertising.

And there’s just no longer an excuse for wasting ad spend on channels that don’t perform well. And yeah, and as we’re measuring success, it really depends on the goals and objectives of business.  can vary for sure. Mm-hmm. , , you know, to some it might be a three to one return on ad spend, , on something like Google Ads to others, it might be X nber of website visitors from a social campaign.

So, while success can vary, the need to measure that success is critical. . Mm-hmm. . It’s interesting to think about how as time has evolved me, media buying has become more digital because of the digital platforms out there. And, with the digital platforms, we can measure them. So, you know, use those tools to measure, make sure you’re spending your, your marketing dollars appropriately and, and, and, you know, seeing the success that you’re working for, right?


Mm-hmm. , , you’ve talked a lot too about. And this is kind of, I think, an overarching theme for marketers too. , in just in, in, in catering, right? And, and doing their jobs, like I should say, right? Providing that personalized experience, , across various channels. It’s, it’s expected, I think, when it comes to media buying, right?How can you make sure that you are providing that experience, right?

[Lisa Salvatore]

 Yeah. There’s so many headlines out there right now about personalizing the experience, right? And I think it’s important to remember.  As technology and data become more sophisticated, so do consumers, you know, they want brands to speak to them.

They know what they want. They’re more invested today than ever in a brand story, especially younger generations. , so the expectation to deliver on what resonates with them is higher. So the more you can personalize your ad campaigns to your target audience, the. , and the best way to go about this as a media buyer is to utilize the tools, , that I mentioned before, because they’ll help you accomplish a lot of what it takes, to deliver the right ads to the right user at the right time.

And they help you leverage your own data for your media buying. You know, one of the largest shifts along with the personalized experiences. , the move away from third party cookies in media buying, just, you can no longer rely on that as a targeting mechanism. So media buyers have to find ways to use their own first party data, and that’s great, but only if you use it effectively, to personalize your ad campaigns.

So, for example , you would want different messaging for a prospect.  who hasn’t converted on your website yet, , compared to an existing customer who you’re trying to upsell. So it’s just important, I think, to remember that, you know, you have the data you need, so just make sure you use it properly. , you know, the days of having to place a generic ad on a channel and hope the right person sees it at the right time and actually takes action on it are gone.

I think it’s interesting to think about the days before social media, we didn’t really have that, that personal experience or personal tie to brands. Our relationships with brands as consumers were totally different. We basically, you know, we consed what we were served across social channels, and now we have this ability to build relationships with brands.

We like across traditional and digital channels. So we, we literally choose to follow brands, right? Like asking to be served content. Send me your emails, right? Send me notifications when you post something on Instagram. It’s just interesting to think and crazy to think about really just, just the introduction of digital channels just gives brands more new ways, tell their stories, and it just allows us to feel so much more connected to them.


So yeah, personalized experience, we want it, and you can absolutely deliver that through media buying. So let’s talk about how to get started. 

Is media buying accessible for all budgets? 

[Lisa Salvatore]

It is. In fact, that’s one of the great things about it you know, you can start small. You can spend as little as $5 a day if you want to, just to get in there and get your hands dirty with these ad platforms, right?

And then think about this too, with so many ad channels available, you also wanna align your creative with the media you were buying across those channels to create a unified experience. There’s just so many screens now, right? You don’t want the same ad on a streaming site. On a social platform, on mobile and in a gaming app, for example, all at the same time.

So you wanna tell your brand story across channels for the best experience at key moments in the user’s journey. So that’s the best thing. I would say the best way to get started is to do it right. You can read all about it. There’s a ton of resources out there, but actually getting in there and doing it and trying it and testing it,, that’s where you learn the most. And like I said, you can start really small budgets if you want, just to figure things out and go from there, see what, what works, what doesn’t. And a lot of ad platforms really, they have great help and support resources too, to walk you through everything. I never would’ve thought you could start your media buying strategy at $5.


I thought That’s great. That’s really good to know. Yeah. You might not get much back, but it’s a good start. Yes. Walk and then run. Right? Yeah. , so what we’re learning here is that in media buying, it’s, it’s always evolving. And so with that said, what Lisa, are the top trends to look out for when it comes to media buying in 2023?

[Lisa Salvatore]

Great question So, connected TV for sure, , is gonna be big this year. It’s still a growing space for streaming platforms and for media buyers. , it can be costly and it, it is still fragmented, but it’s, now’s a really good time to get started with it and figure out how to make it work for your brand or your client.

As more streaming platforms move to ad supported models. , you know, they’re doing that in an effort to retain their subscribers at a lower cost. It’s just opening up a lot of premium inventory opportunities for media buyers. And actually sports coverage too is starting to move into the world of streaming.

So I’d say that would be another trend to keep an eye on this year. Another one is emerging platforms. They can provide a lot of opportunities. This year, , the media buying space is becoming more diverse and less dominated by the usual players. So I’m talking about, , emerging platforms like digital, audio, digital at home, in-game advertising, retail media network.

Amazon TikTok, , just to name a few. So definitely keep an eye on that. , and I think lastly, I mentioned first party data. Gino is already a hot topic. , but along with that is the opportunity that, , contextual advertising provides. So with that, you can target your ads based on the content of consumers reading, and it’s not reliant on cookies for targeting.


So the, the top three things you had said to kind of trends, I guess to be on lookout for in 2023. It’s, it’s that connected tv, those emerging platforms that are allowing it. Easier kind of, I guess, easy media buying and different opportunities such as like the, the audio, digital, audio, digital, out of home in game, TikTok, those types of things. And then of course, the importance of first party data.  

This has been great, Lisa. So the last thing I’ll ask you before we conclude is, is there anything you would like to plug?

[Lisa Salvatore]

Well, I already plugged CallTrackingMetrics earlier, but I cannot say enough about it as a tool for media buying.

You know, I think about how many media campaigns I worked on in the past and how I could have made smarter buying decisions had I.  known how valuable my conversions were, , and been able to extract data from customer conversations, you know, with media buying, , and your ad campaigns like vole is great when measuring your results, but the value is really what matters.

And you know, I think lastly this, this isn’t a plug, but more of a recommendation to media buyers and that is just to keep a pulse on the industry.  You know, we were just talking about trends, you know, things. It’s gonna be big this year weren’t really last year. So the landscape technology is always evolving and changing, either within a platform like Google Ads to the new platforms that can provide opportunities.


So stay on top of that and go from there, but this has been so great, Lisa. , just to smarize for our audience, so kind of in a nutshell, what we’ve learned and talked a lot about today.  media buying has changed dramatically in the last decade. New technologies have increased the opportunities for placement as well as measurement of that placement, allowing marketers to better understand their customers and the impact of their media bias, that they can make smarter decisions.

So again, technology’s just helping to make great changes everywhere. And it’s impacted media buying too. 

So thanks again, Lisa, for sharing your knowledge with us. Very much appreciate it. 

[Lisa Salvatore]

You’re welcome. Thank you for having me. 


Thanks for all you do for CTM  too. I must say that as well. Thank you.

And as always, thank you to our listeners for your support. Be sure to follow us at Smart Wrap Pod on Twitter and we will talk to you soon.