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Producing Your Campaign

Up until now you have been learning, strategizing, and developing tactics. During production, you shift gears and start “building” your campaign – from producing creative assets and setting up media campaigns to implementing tracking and setting up reports.

Activities include “producing” creative elements for the campaign (such as shooting and editing videos, animating banners, resizing print ads, etc.) At the same time, the final media plan is transformed into a media campaign through media buying (either directly through self-serve platforms or through a vendor or consultant). Tracking is implemented on your website and tested to ensure the data you need to understand performance is coming through correctly, and a performance dashboard (or reporting template if there is no dashboard) is set up to make it easy to see how your campaign is performing against defined objectives and performance metrics.

At the end of production you will have done everything needed to launch your marketing campaign, understand how it works, and effectively move your audience to action.

Why it matters

Well planned, organized execution drives successful campaign performance.

How it works

1. Creative Production

Your final media plan will detail the creative formats (print, video, display, radio, etc.) and sizes required to support your marketing campaign. The creative format treatments developed during planning will now need to be “produced” – meaning filming and editing videos, animating banners, developing resizes (for different banner and print ad placements), and packaging assets so they comply with each media vendor’s specifications.

Depending on your timeline and budget, you might produce your creative assets using “stock art” (licensed photography, illustrations, music, animations, etc.) or you might produce your assets from scratch at a “shoot” where you secure original video footage and photography stills.

At the Office of Innovation, our campaigns often take a video-first approach that features real residents. Using video production as our starting point, we layer on still photography and use the shoot to secure enough assets to produce all creative deliverables required by the campaign. The assets secured at the shoot create a “treasure chest” that can be drawn from to produce new assets whenever the need arises. The assets can even be used for other program communication initiatives.

Red Flag

Don’t forget to QA all creative assets before they are final products. This should include having someone unfamiliar with the messaging read through all finalized copy to find any remaining typos.

2. Media Buying and Set-up

The media plan developed during planning will need to be executed with campaign set-up. Campaign set-up involves hiring the media vendors on your plan (signing contracts, agreeing to terms and conditions) and the uploading of your campaign’s media placement and creative details into each media vendor’s systems (including how long each placement will run, how much media activity is being purchased, agreed-to pricing of each placement, and total budget).

Many organizations use vendors to execute their paid media campaigns, especially if their budgets are large. If your budget is smaller and your team has capacity, you might want to keep this work “in-house.” There are two ways you can buy and manage paid media:

  • Self-Service. Many digital platforms including Google, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, etc., are “self-service.” This means you will need to create an advertising account on their platform and directly pay for the media. For most self-service platforms, there is no minimum spend or length of time requirements. You can run a campaign for as little and long as you want.
  • Professional Services. The more traditional advertising model involves being assigned an account representative who will plan and optimize your campaign for you. These engagements involve larger commitments (both time and money) – both of which can be negotiated. The campaigns are run based on “insertion order,” meaning you have negotiated payment terms and are sent an invoice each month after the prior month’s activity closes out.

Pro Tip

If you plan on using Facebook or Instagram, make sure you have a “brand page” set up and request verification at least 4-6 weeks before your planned launch. Social media platforms including Meta (Facebook and Instagram) and YouTube require advertisers to have a “brand page” on their platform in order to run paid media. Facebook has a page verification process that can take up to 40 days to complete.

3. Tracking Implementation

During Planning you identified what actions need to be tracked and where tracking needs to be implemented to provide visibility into campaign performance against objectives. There are two types of tracking that need to be implemented to support your marketing campaign:

  • UTM tracking. A UTM code (UTM stands for Urchin Tracking Module – which originates from a discontinued software platform purchased by Google in 2005) or parameter identifies information about your marketing activity. It’s a snippet of text that gets added to the end of a URL to create a “trafficking URL.” The UTM code can contain up to five parameters: Campaign, source, medium, content, and term. You can use our UTM generator (coming soon) to create your own trafficking URLs. UTMs can be used to track both Partner and Paid Media activity.
  • Tracking Pixel. A tracking pixel is an invisible javascript code that lives on a website or email. Paid media vendors often require their proprietary pixel to be installed on your website for the campaign to run (this includes Facebook, Instagram, ad serving platforms and all programmatic media vendors). That’s because the pixel collects information about visitor actions on your website and automatically optimizes performance based on the action taken (or not taken). Pixels are required for conversion-optimization and re-targeting campaigns.

Pro Tip

Tracking pixels should be implemented at least two weeks before a campaign goes live or, better yet, four weeks in advance. That’s because pixels collect data on the characteristics of your site’s visitors so, when you launch, your media vendors can target similar audiences. That sets your campaign up for success out of the gate.

Without advance data collection, you will be spending money blindly for the first few weeks of the campaign while enough data can be collected to start profiling and targeting the right audience for your program.

Red Flag

It is imperative that tracking implementation be thoroughly QA’d before a campaign goes live. Click on a representative sample of UTMs and take all the actions you are tracking (visit a page, register on the site, sign up for a newsletter, etc.) and look at the data to confirm what is reported aligns with the actions taken.

The process to QA pixel-based tracking will be a bit different. If you are running your campaign through a professional services engagement, your partner will work with you to QA the tracking implementation. If you are working with a self-serve platform that requires a pixel (such as Facebook), you will need to put the campaign live first (you can do it for a very small amount) to double check everything is working properly.

4. Dashboard and Reporting Set-up

Regardless of how you are tracking your campaign, you should be able to access real-time performance reports directly from your tracking and reporting interface.

Many analytics platforms come with pre-built marketing reports that can be customized, or they might give you the option of creating your own from-scratch views. This is also true for self-service media platforms including Meta (Facebook/Instagram) and Google Ads (paid search, YouTube, display, etc.)

The important thing is to do the work of looking at what’s available and customizing the views BEFORE the campaign goes live so you are ready to hit the ground running with the launch.

Pro Tip

Don’t forget to report on view-through activity! “View-through” means someone saw your ad, but went to your website without clicking on it. If you only look at click-based data, you miss out on gaining insight into the full impact your marketing campaign has at influencing traffic and on-site actions.

5. Trafficking

“Trafficking” a campaign means sending out detailed instructions and creative assets to your partners, and uploading everything into self-service platforms. There are two tools that manage this work:

  • Creative Matrix. A master workbook that specifies every media channel, site, placement, size, message, and related creative asset. The more detailed the information in the Matrix, the more flexibility it will give you when you run performance reports. See our example Creative Matrix
  • Trafficking Instructions. A document that organizes placement and creative asset information for your partner to implement. It should make it as easy as possible for anyone to pick up and be able to clearly understand what happens next.

How long it takes

4-6 weeks.

Similar to the Development phase, there are Production components that can happen in parallel (Creative Production and Media Buying). Tracking Implementation can also happen in parallel if the campaign will be driving traffic to an existing digital presence. If you are building out a new presence (website, microsite or landing page), Tracking Implementation can start as soon as the instance is live.

Do it in a day

Focus on a single channel like paid search and paid social and develop a very limited campaign. Campaigns on these platforms can be launched within a matter of seconds and optimized based on website visits.

In parallel, continue to implement tracking, develop more assets, etc., and roll out with them as soon as they are ready.


  • Completed set-up/production tasks:
    • Produced creative assets
    • Media campaign set-up on self-serve platforms
    • Tracking implemented and QA’d
    • Dashboard/performance reports setup
  • UTMs for trafficking (coming soon)
  • Sample Creative Matrix

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