Optimising media spends in the current financial crunch

Shwet Nigam, Media Director Experience Commerce; a Cheil Worldwide Company, writes about the rule of thumb to making media a success factor in crunch situations

BestMediaInfo Bureau
New Update
Optimising media spends in the current financial crunch

Shwet Nigam

According to a WARC research, global advertising spend is forecasted to slowdown in 2023, with a projected increase of only 2.6% in comparison to 8.3% rise in 2022. On the other hand, social media ad spend is also projected to slow down to half in 2023 in comparison to 11.5% growth in 2022. 

Brands and marketers are already stalling paid media spends for 2023 due to the economic slowdown and awaiting to gauge the effect of the global inflation upon the Indian economy. This is also impacted due to the war in Ukraine, which has resulted in a decline in supplies and manufacturing in the Chinese markets.

According to The Hindu, India imported $89.66 billion worth of goods from China between January and September 2022 - a surge over the last few years. Despite the multiple stand-offs at the border, and the hyper-nationalist pressure to boycott China, the import numbers from China to India have been a significant tell-tale, which points otherwise. The China slowdown has also impacted inventory holdings for many brands that further affects their intent towards paid media.

The year 2020 saw a huge rise in paid ad spends, when brands wanted to leverage E- commerce to their benefit, at a time where retail buying - the more preferred buying medium in India - and the retail revenue capability was rendered finite. India may still be a nice E-commerce sector due to diverse factors such as infrastructure and technical know-how, government regulations, etc. The disruption due to the pandemic saw a tremendous consumer behaviour shift, where several small-scale and smart brick and mortar businesses quickly navigated to hop aboard the online marketplace ship, leveraging the reach of the likes of Amazon, Flipkart, and others, to sell their goods.

However, 2023 is a different story. It is an emissary for focused media spends. While paid media is expected to shift towards heavier, ROI-based marketing than just mere branding, owing to the focal point shifting towards the value of every rupee spent. Optimisation plays a massive role with this shift, with regards to the objectives that brands are looking at this year. Reach and ROI will become the two main pillars for the media mix.

The rule of thumb to make media a success factor is alignment of departments and stakeholders on the brand side. The objective of a campaign and a fair duration for it to perform is vital. However, the following factors can ensure enhanced ROI.

Data Orientation

The ask here is to drive consistent ROI via media spend optimisation and maintain reach via effective targeting. When a favourable economic situation fails us, a well-timed or well-managed media strategy can be the game changer. With a proper data mix, the Multi-Touch Marketing Attribution model may take the limelight, where analysing and identifying the tactics that have been contributing to sales and conversions can be doubled down upon.

The key to maintain a correct media outreach is a well evaluated combination of the most cost-effective and objective serving plan. Long-term data serves as the Holy writ here, data-oriented decisions are more often than not the gold mine that lead to marketing strategy success. Marketing mix modelling that brings in the insights to the most feasible campaign in terms of engagement and sales can be heavily relied upon.


The most common mistake is digging into the silos of data, or data bias. In this situation, a brand may incline towards a belief that agrees with the top management, based on past experiences. However, the dynamic trend shifts in the past few years may have disrupted these learnings. Martech plays a vital role here. A unified dashboard view, capitalised upon during execution and strategising can be the solution here. Marketing Analytics dashboards that are free of cost can provide efficiency in decision-making and analyzing ROI based plans. Some examples could be Google 360, Google data studio or paid dashboards for brands that may have integration hinderances to the freely available dashboards.

These dashboards can also assist in understanding the consumer journey, traffic analysis, and the shift or retention in the target groups. A ‘W’ or ‘U-shaped’ touch point analysis can further enhance the learnings from these dashboards. This can further lead to optimisation factors, like evaluating the touch-points which are the most valuable in terms of conversions, or the frequency at which a “New to brand” consumer can be acquired or at which an increased life time value can be achieved.


Kaizen is an approach to continuous improvement based on the idea that small, ongoing positive changes are followed by significant improvements. Media relies heavily on optimisation and testing. Even the most successful campaigns can reach a saturation point. The trick is to understand the point of saturation. Sometimes, even a static creative change can revive an entire campaign.

A/B testing is often under-utilised. Testing, and creating diversified approach to everything, from the audience, creative, copy, messaging, CTA, etc., is the key. Marketers need to maintain consistency at testing every hypothesis and dwelling upon what works best in terms of objective fulfilment. This data should then be analysed and optimisations and adjustments to campaigns should be made in order to achieve high ROI, while maintaining limited paid media spends.

Unification and Diversification

Lastly, unification of approach to marketing, product focus and spends with consistency, and a diversification in messaging via personalisation are the differentiators that a brand can rely on this year.

Re-marketing is a very strong and non-linear concept that works the best in terms of acquisition, if applied correctly. A consistent and unified Marketing strategy and product focus that gives the marketing team and the AI enough time to generate the desired momentum are imperative, like in many walks of life, patience is the key here.

The cherry on the cake is the magic wand of marketing automation tools which have been disrupting how brands approach their consumers. Personalised consumer journeys and messaging that leads to seamless acquisition on the client side, topped with detailed data analysis, is a game changer.


A strong media strategy is inclusive of continuous testing, data orientation, and media tools which lead to accurate insights and relentless optimisation. The least expensive optimisation tools are available in dashboard analysis. A strong marketer will agree that some amount of squinting can help find the sweet spot in this data that can lead to a paid media breakthrough and a favourable ROI.

Optimising media Shwet Nigam Cheil Worldwide Company