I want to understand how the digital media buying process works for startups?

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I want to understand how the digital media buying process works for startups?

Below is an overview on how a startup company can approach their digital marketing strategy. What follows is a look at in-house vs. outsourcing for content creation, as well as how that will affect your subsequent measurement processes, optimizations, and implementation. Four different marketing software options have been included that are geared specifically towards a startup company, as well as eleven free brand management tools that can be utilized for in-house digital marketing.


If money is a constraint for a start-up business (as it usually is), many decide to outsource their digital advertising through an agency (if only temporarily, until an in-house marketing team can be achieved). When working with an agency, companies don’t have to go into it with an “all-or-nothing” mentality. If you realize that your internal employees can handle email marketing, it’s important to communicate that to the agency, and let them know you want them to specifically focus on, say, digital banner advertising and social media channel management. This is considered the Goldilocks approach, and allows you the best of both worlds.
There are also various kinds of agencies to consider:
Digital marketing agency — specializes in outbound marketing, with measurable results and a focus on maximizing ROI.
Content marketing agency — specializes in inbound marketing, and has expertise in a “content is king” mentality.
Advertising agency — will work on exposure for your brand, through any channel necessary and/or desired: TV, print, radio, billboards, social media, and digital advertising.
PR agency — will help spread the word about your brand, and can get your story “placed in various media outlets” for large exposure.
Design agency — largely focuses on web design, but can also build basic mobile apps and work with content management systems.
If you don’t have anyone internally with marketing experience, it is recommended to begin with a digital marketing agency for your outsourcing, as they can help you discover your brand persona and choose “the most effective marketing channels.”
If a marketing budget is not a concern, opting for in-house marketing allows your team full exposure to your brand, and allows for all efforts to come from a single, unified source, with direct knowledge and experience of your brand’s offerings. By comparing pros and cons of in-house vs. outsourced marketing for a startup, you can consider the below before making a final decision.
In-house vs. Agency
Product expertise vs. lack of product expertise
In-house vs. Agency
Exposure to team vs. limited exposure to team
In-house vs. Agency
All marketing efforts come from the same team vs. different agencies may be hired for different projects
In-house vs. Agency
High cost vs. low cost
In-house vs. Agency
Lack of objectivity vs. external perspective

Outsourcing for content creation is highly recommended for start-ups. The Content Marketing Institute reported that 44% of B2B marketers outsource their content creation, and 57% of technology marketers outsource “content writing, design, editing, and even distribution efforts when necessary.”

If outsourcing is decided as the best course of action, the agency you work with will handle submitting the ads to their appropriate channel, such as scheduling ads through a programmatic offering with Google to display online banners across the web.

If deciding to keep marketing in house (or parts of it), startups can utilize Google's products to help push out their digital and SEO advertising. Numerous free training articles, lessons, videos, and tests are available from Google, which can train your company to learn how to utilize Google Analytics to monitor your advertising successes. By utilizing Google Analytics correctly, you can track each type of creative you run, or types of ads, and determine which one is the most successful. Google can also train and provide solutions for SEO, SEM, and digital banner advertising.

Further, utilizing free management tools (mentioned later on) is a great way to manage your own social media channels. Social media platforms are extremely user-friendly, and easy to manage for small businesses with not much bandwidth.


An online software that enables users to create rich media units for “web, tablet, and mobile”, all without having to know how to write code. Ceros gives you the ability to add graphics and interactive elements to your digital content, and is compatible with InDesign and Photoshop. It’s also a cloud-based tool, and you can work with others in remote locations, whether it be team members or an outsourced individual you’re using for advice and training.
Trello is a project management software tool with collaboration capabilities. It is organized by virtual “boards” which will include project details, lists, and images. You’re able to collaborate with your other team members in the space, as well as assign tasks to others. It updates in real-time, and works with all devices, and, it’s free.
Join.me is a virtual meeting place that allows you to share your screen with up to ten participants (in the free version) to review, edit, and approve marketing content. It’s compatible with Outlook and iCal, so you can easily schedule meetings within the platform.

MaaxMarket is a marketing automation system that is cloud based, and delivers a personalized platform designed for the business to increase sales and automate their marketing. They have a special product specially geared towards start-up companies, and they acknowledge that many start-ups can’t use “enterprise-grade marketing software”, as they typically don’t have the funds required for such extensive software. MaaxMarket also offers a 15-day free trial of their marketing software to new businesses and users.
MaxxMarket also teaches a business along the way what they should focus on with their marketing. They recommend four things for a startup to keep in mind:

How will you show your brand? It is recommended to showcase your brand “two to three times before reaching customers…so that your product can grab their attention first.” Social media platforms (think Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) are the recommended channel.

Use customer reviews, your stellar support team, and customer testimonials to show your future customers that you’re trustworthy.
Approach your advertising content with confidence and simplicity. Ads should be easy to follow, read, and not packed with too much information. Content should be catchy, concise, and attention-grabbing.
Take your time to learn about each marketing software you are considering. What do they offer, not offer, pricing, past successes, etc. It’s recommended to give priority to software that are “all in one marketing automation software” so that you can learn the scope of your marketing questions from the beginning. Further, utilizing marketing software can boost your SEO ranking, as well as traffic to your website, by 70%.


Brand monitoring tools are crucial for start-ups, so they can begin to gather insights on the company at their beginning, in order to optimize and grow in the future. A brand monitoring tool allows a company to measure their success in terms of how many people are mentioning them online, what is their brand image, how many likes did you receive on a Facebook post, how much traffic is being driven to your site, and how many times an email was opened. The capabilities of brand monitoring tools are ever-changing and endless.

There are numerous free brand monitoring tools that a start-up can utilize to track their brand's success and perception in the digital space:

Allows you to create a customized Twitter platform where you can monitor “different users, hashtags, search terms, and lists”. You can have a panel dedicated to looking at content from your customers, employees, or competitors. It’s particularly useful during live events, so you can monitor how often your brand is being mentioned, and in what context.
Compiles all blogs, images, and video content into one place, after you enter a search term. For example, you can search “inbound marketing” and receive all mentions of inbound marketing across the internet.
Compatible with Twitter, Followerwonk enables users to search Twitter profiles and bios for mention of your brand.
Sumall can link with all of your social profiles (Facebook, twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn) and provide you insights on your follower and engagements. They offer a paid version, which will also help generate content suggestions and allows for automatic scheduling.
Mentionmapp allows you to see which users on Twitter are mentioning your brand the most, and is interactive. You can click through each mention to see how they are connected.
Provides suggested content to share with your network by connecting to your Facebook and Twitter accounts, and analyzing users.
Hootsuite can compile all your information in one dashboard, from all social media platforms. It enables users to “carry out social monitoring, scheduling, campaigns, and analytics”.
Boardreader will search message boards and conversations online to see what users are saying about your brand.
Can compile your data from social media (such as number of links to your domain, content received) so that you can determine which platform is working the best for your brand. They’ll also suggest web pages for your content, as well as which content might be worth re-posting.
Google alerts will let you know whenever someone is mentioning your brand. You can enter specific terms, and receive email updates about how you’re being mentioned in the internet.
Some social networks provide free analytics tools for their users (Twitter Analytics, Google Analytics). They will provide insights and data of your content and brand.


If deciding to outsource your digital marketing, you’ll enable someone else to take care of content creation, measurement success, optimizations, and ad implementation. Financially-permitting, in-house marketing will enable you to have more of a centralized control over your brand and messaging, however you’ll spend more time analyzing, implementing, and optimizing your advertisements yourself, utilizing products offered through Google and free brand management tools.

Did this report spark your curiosity?