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Everything You Need to Know About Creating a Digital Marketing Channel Mix Strategy

Shae Henrie

Content Strategist @ AdRoll

If you’re a digital marketer, you know the number of marketing channels available is greater than ever before. Integrated marketing with multiple channels provides plenty of benefits, like a coherent, consistent customer journey no matter where your audience sees your message.

Even though you have plenty of options, prioritizing your marketing efforts to focus on channels that you know will work well is essential. If you overspend on campaigns that don’t work, you’ll burn through your budget and risk missing out on potential conversions. That’s why picking the right marketing media mix should be a thoughtful, data-driven decision.

Media mix optimization isn’t rocket science, however. As a digital marketer, you can use your knowledge of platforms, current trends, and first- and third-party data to help make informed decisions about which channels to focus on.

Let’s walk through the processes and priorities you’ll need to keep in mind when building your digital marketing media mix.

How to Create an Advertising Channel Mix Plan

Financial planning is a huge part of effective advertising. A good channel strategy needs to account for how each piece uniquely adds to your bottom line and the length of time before you can expect a return on investment. Channel diversification strives to succeed in both these areas by using different channels to optimize your overall marketing budget.

Here’s a quick example of how diversification can optimize your marketing spend and outcomes across your buyer journey:

Let’s say you have a monthly advertising budget that you primarily dedicate to paid search. While you typically spend it pretty effectively, it can be volatile: spend too little, and you may miss quality prospects; spend too much and your cost per acquisition (CPA) may go up. On top of that, paid search more often engages a ready to buy audience which means marginal costs can go up very quickly.

What can you do to get more bang for your marketing buck? Engage future ready-to-buy customers. That means choosing channels that tap into audiences that are more at the interest stage of researching your product, brand, or service. These types of efforts nurture prospective buyers and feed into lower-funnel/high intent ads later on.

In the following sections, we’ll outline the best practices for developing a media mix strategy based on your goals, audience, and available channels. We’ll also talk about how you can track data to make informed decisions about which channels work best—and which ones you may need to leave behind.

1. Define your goals 

Without concrete goals for your campaign(s) as a starting point, you’ll have trouble knowing not just who to target, but how. Are you trying to create brand awareness? Do you want to drive low-funnel sales with retargeting campaigns? The tools and channels you’ll use to re-engage with lapsed customers may look different from the ones you’d use to reach new ones.

With solid goals in place, it’s a lot easier to answer the next questions about who you’re trying to reach and how.

2. Identify your target audience 

Knowing who to focus on as your target audience is just as important as the messaging you use to reach them. In fact, your target audience often determines essential information about your campaign, from the medium you use to the promotions and benefits you offer. To identify the correct target audience, consider the following pieces of information:

  • Key features of your product or service

  • Your existing customers and their personas

  • Details from market research, including surveys, interviews, and industry reports

  • Customer pain points

  • Your competition and their targeted audiences

Don’f forget one key detail: Your target audience isn’t static. It can and will change as your business grows, you offer new services, or market trends shift. Regularly review and update your target audience segments to better inform your marketing efforts.

3. Research the different channels

Once you’ve identified your target audience, it’s time to pivot to learning more about the various channels you have available. We’ve listed some of our favorites below. As you research the different channels, keep specific details—such as budget requirements or creative constraints—in mind. Some channels might require extensive creative efforts, including video editing or graphic design. In addition, some channels may just not be a great fit because they don’t resonate with your target audience.

Don’t forget to research how those channels leverage data and tracking for optimization. If you’re not able to make adjustments based on what reporting tells you, it might not be the best platform for you.

4. Choose your channels

Once you know which channels make sense for your brand, it’s time to build your digital marketing channel mix. There’s no shortage of options available, and one of the best parts of digital marketing is that many campaigns do not require long-term, multi-year commitments. You can pilot these campaigns or make tweaks to them as time goes on. Display advertising, native advertising, social media efforts, and even Amazon ads have robust creator tools to help get your campaigns off the ground.

5. Create a budget 

Because digital marketing offers such an open-ended experience, you’ll need to be cognizant of how much you spend on each campaign. Create clear budgets that give you the flexibility to bid on important keywords or audiences, but that have upper limits that won’t cause hardship if you hit them.

Remember, each digital ad platform offers robust tools to optimize your bidding strategies and targeting on the campaign and daily levels. You can choose to pay more during “busier” times when your intended audience is online, or you can turn ads off entirely for those parts of the day when you don’t want those ads to show up.

6. Track your results 

Digital advertising relies on lots of data to effectively target your audiences and allow you to bid to put your ads in front of them. But it’s also an important tool to help understand if your ads are working the way you expect them to.

No matter what or how many channels you use to reach your audience, you need to regularly analyze those results to make necessary changes to your campaigns. Unlike traditional media methods like TV, radio, or billboards where audiences are assumed but not easily tracked, digital campaigns provide concrete KPIs you can tie to your results to determine your return on investment.

Because digital campaigns offer up so much information, it’s a no-brainer to regularly review that data to see what improvements you can make. You can test different headlines, messages, ad creative, and more. Once you know what works, you can use those insights to continually iterate and grow in your advertising efforts.

Of course, nothing makes reporting and tracking results easier than the right cross-channel reporting tools.

Now that we’ve reviewed the goals of diversification and the process to build your media mix strategy, let’s talk about the specific channels you may want to add to your mix.

Advertising Channels to Consider

There are tons of combinations to try when it comes to advertising, especially online. Here are a few advertising channels you may already be using, have heard of, or are wanting to start up: 

  • Display

  • Native

  • Social (Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Pinterest, etc.) 

  • Amazon


Do you have a simple product or are you in a familiar category? Display is a great way to reach people with high frequency for a relatively low cost.

Display ads can be used to drive interest, purchase intent, and in retargeting campaigns. Messaging and design play an important role in the effectiveness of these ads, so be clear, concise, and creative. Think of display as the digital equivalent of billboards—there’s not a lot of space for text, so whatever’s included needs to be quick and easy to understand. 


Native ads are similar to display in terms of reach and cost. These ads may show up like articles, so you’ll want to ensure you have the appropriate assets for the medium.

One note to consider: brand safety issues may arise if your ads start showing up in carousels next to undesirable promotions from other companies that are also utilizing native placement. Consider your brand’s risk tolerance before choosing to spend heavily on this channel.

Facebook & Instagram

When evaluating whether or not to run social ads on these channels, take a look at your audience and consider what you sell. Age and interests of users differ across these two Meta platforms. 

Demographics vary between the two platforms, with Facebook having an audience that skews toward age 30 and older. Instagram attracts a bit of a younger crowd, with many users being in their teens.

User metrics are another area of comparison. Facebook has a higher number of monthly users, clocking in at 2.95 billion, whereas Instagram has 2 billion. However, engagement rate flips the two platform’s numbers; brands on Instagram see a 0.6% engagement rate, with Facebook sitting at just 0.15% according to a social media engagement study.


TikTok’s audience is made up of a younger demographic (80% between ages 16-34) that demands relevance. It’s best to advertise relevant products and services to this user base and avoid anything overly sales-y. 

While targeting capabilities are still in their infancy, TikTok has a lower ad cost compared to other social networks. Plus, the TikTok audience is highly engaged. If you have products that look great on video, then the ROI for rich media ads on this platform can’t be beat.

An additional opportunity that TikTok presents is working with Creators to help promote your brand or product. Learn more about TikTok marketing from the best.


The use for Pinterest is a bit different than other social platforms. While many other apps focus on social sharing and interaction, this platform is all about discovery and inspiration.

Pinterest can be compared more closely to creating a shopping list built from window browsing. The platform boasts 2.3x more efficient cost per conversion than ads on social media. As such, pinners are often more keen on ads, as they’re more likely to be ready to buy.

If you have a highly-visual product and eye-catching creative, Pinterest ads may be a great move.


According to the most recent study available (2020), ads on Amazon have a 20% higher ROI compared to other forms of marketing. But they’re also significantly cheaper than those on platforms like Google or Facebook. If your business model includes selling products, these types of ads may be a viable option to diversify your channel strategy. Amazon ads have even been shown to impact non-Amazon sales. 

It’s important to note that you can use Amazon Ads even if you don’t sell your products on Amazon. 

No matter which digital marketing channels you choose for your media mix, picking the right cross-channel marketing platform can simplify managing them. The key to a successful media mix involves understanding your target audience’s preferences and habits.

When to Add or Remove a Channel From Your Marketing Channel Mix

When you notice a channel starting to underperform, your next thought may be, “is this channel worth it?” The answer will depend on your goals, audience, budget, and what assets you have.

Here are a few questions to ask when evaluating underperforming channels:

1. What is my goal for advertising on this channel, and am I meeting that goal?
If you’re trying to drive sales, take a look at current performance compared to your target number of purchases. If you’re trying to increase awareness or engagement, evaluate metrics like total impressions and click through rate. If the ads you’re running aren’t meeting the mark, it might be time to reallocate your spend elsewhere. 

2. Am I using other marketing channels that are driving those goals more effectively?
If so, those platforms may be the best place to repurpose those marketing dollars. 

3. Is there a pattern around ads that are performing well vs. ads that are missing the mark?
Take a look at the messaging and creative assets for each ad. If ads framing a product or service in one way are far outperforming those that describe or show it differently, adjust the underperformers or reallocate spend toward the winners. The same applies to ad types—if your video ads are on fire with engagement, but your static ads are ice cold, you might want to focus your budget on multimedia ads. 

4. When did I last evaluate my holistic ad strategy? 

As with everything in the digital world, things are constantly changing. What worked well for your ads six months ago may not hold true today. If your digital ads are struggling across platforms, it’s probably time to take a hard look at your audience targeting, budget, and overall channel mix marketing strategy to create a more effective approach. 

5. What external factors could potentially be impacting my customers’ buying behaviors? 

Sometimes, there are factors at play that, unfortunately, are out of your control. Is there a major event occurring that’s pulling buyers’ attention away? Is a piece in the news cycle impacting your buyers’ perception about your product or service? Is an economic downturn leading buyers to be more cautious with how they spend money? If the answer is yes to one or more of these, don’t panic—plan how you can temporarily adjust your ad spend or alter your messaging to ride out these changes and come back strong once they’ve passed.  

Unifying Data and Prioritizing Across Channels

Now that you’re aware of the many different channels at your disposal to reach your customers, how can you determine which ones will work best for you?

It’s important to look at your media mix strategy as a whole to understand how these advertising platforms contribute to your overall efforts. This is where unifying data, or looking at your performance collectively for each marketing channel, is key.

Whether directly or indirectly, all of your marketing efforts can impact one another. By looking at the bigger picture, you can work to improve your holistic strategy without accidentally eliminating a helpful ad, campaign, or effort. 

In order to effectively unify your data, we recommend setting up a multi-channel marketing performance strategy to ensure you can easily and consistently measure your success. 

In many cases, Google Analytics provides tools to show how your marketing channels work together to create conversions. This lets you understand the different paths users can take to convert—and which channels are the most effective. You can also use AdRoll to help track your cross-channel attribution, which is essential for robust cross-channel marketing strategies.

Manage Your Marketing Channel Mix With AdRoll

We provide a streamlined experience for brands to easily launch display, native, and email, as well as manage and optimize social media ads. With AdRoll, you can engage existing customers, attract new customers, and grow your revenue. 

Learn more about what you can do with the power of AdRoll. 


What is an example of a media mix?

Media mix refers to the combination of channels a company uses to communicate its message. A company can create as complex or simple of a media mix as it wants. Imagine you’re a marketing professional at an organic coffee brand. Depending on your flexibility, budget, and priorities, media mix examples might involve a combination of traditional print ads, digital advertising, and direct mailers sent to customers in your target markets.

How do I measure the effectiveness of my media mix?

Measuring your media mix’s effectiveness depends on several factors and decisions. For example, if you don’t set clear goals early on, you won’t know what metrics to track. Most companies, regardless of platform, will track their sales and overall revenue. You’ll also want to keep a close eye on ROI to ensure you’re not burning cash for marketing that doesn’t work.

What are the advantages of using a diverse media mix?

When you use a diverse media mix, you’re not putting all your marketing eggs in one basket. A diverse media mix allows you to reach a broader audience through multiple touchpoints and cultivate brand recognition. You also get the chance to test and learn which channels work best for your brand. 

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