POV: 3 Best Practices to Uplevel Your Audience Extension

Guardrails, margin visibility, and a single platform can help publishers expand reach profitably

Audience extension was born of necessity. As marketers in the early days of digital sought to run campaigns on partner websites, publishers realized that they didn’t have enough traffic on their owned-and-operated properties to deliver full campaign value. Rather than turn down advertiser dollars, enterprising publishers found ways to extend their audiences with buys on relevant websites, additional sites within their networks, or on the open exchange. 

“It used to be just about local broadcast stations—like television and radio—extending reach and impressions into digital,” explained Josh Orchant, Account Director at Boostr. As technology, targeting capabilities, and consumer behavior changed, audience extension has also evolved. “Now the objective is slightly different,” Orchant said. “It’s about reaching more engaged audiences in the places where they spend time.” 

After more than a decade in sales and marketing, Orchant has identified two distinct verticals where audience extension is critical to growth but requires a rethink: local broadcasters with digital properties and large-scale digital publishers with active social media followings. While the same principles for profitable audience extension apply in both cases, these scenarios have their own nuanced challenges.


It wasn’t so long ago that it was novel for a broadcast station to have a digital footprint. But bundling digital with local radio or television inventory quickly moved from experimental to standard operating procedure as advertisers found that the combination can effectively increase reach, refine targeting, and lower blended CPMs. 

Conversely, broadcasters have given audience extension a greater role in media plans to keep and win more budgets, even as traffic to their sites remains flat. Unfortunately, the complexity of the open exchange buying ecosystem, combined with the move to lean in-house agencies, has put broadcasters at a disadvantage. “Local broadcasters end up utilizing 100 different systems to buy the additional inventory, and their media plan profitability and margins are pieced together in Excel,” Orchant explained. 

Current methods are time-consuming and hinder broadcasters’ potential to maximize revenue, with deals booked at suboptimal margins that impact the bottom line. 

Large-scale digital publishers  

Savvy marketers know that social media is where large publishers often have their most engaged followings. Advertisers have pushed large-scale digital publishers to include social media channels on many media plans, even though most publishers aren’t set up to effectively monetize that (limited) inventory.

“Social can be particular,” Orchant said. “But the real issue is the overall profitability of the campaign.” Boostr Chief Revenue Officer Brian Georgi agreed: “There are minimum requirements to receive price breaks on platforms like Facebook that generate meaningful returns, so you can’t just sell an Instagram post or a Facebook post—you have to throw something else into the plan to make the overall profitability reach 50%, for example. Yet, most sellers don’t have the tools to make sure they’re doing that. It costs companies a lot of work and a lot of money.” 

Balancing margin optimization and time investment to deliver each deal is tricky at best. Without margin visibility at the SKU and overall campaign levels, it’s impossible.

The solution: 3 best practices to uplevel audience extensions

Getting audience extension right at scale requires three critical elements: margin visibility, plan guardrails, and a single source of truth. 

1. Get margin visibility: To ensure each plan delivers the best outcome, publishers must understand the real margin for each set of inventory included on a plan, down to the SKU level. Real margins should take into account any fees paid to middlemen, platforms, or exchanges (read: ad tech tax), as well as associated labor costs. 

“Broadcasters and digital publishers both need a media-planning tool with margins and costs that you will incur built-in,” Orchant said. Since many publishers are quick to book deals without insight into their profitability, it's important that they get a handle on this upfront and “not figure it out later,” Orchant said.  

For example, what is the “real” cost of including Facebook ads on the plan? Or buying inventory through The Trade Desk, StackAdapt, or Mediaocean once fees are paid?  

This information will help management develop and deploy the next critical best practice: guardrails

2. Establish automated guardrails: Wouldn’t it be great if your OMS automatically flagged proposed media plans that fail to meet minimum profitability requirements? By instituting margin-driven guardrails based on criteria such as minimum impressions per line, minimum spend per line, and overall deal margin, publishers can ensure that each audience extension tactic should be included in the plan. 

When setting guardrails, be sure to include price breaks by volume and minimum spend levels to make each audience extension tactic worthwhile from a COGS perspective. The more you can annotate each guardrail in the system, the better. Transparency is key to plan optimization–and avoiding objections from Sales.

“If sellers know what they should and shouldn’t be doing before things get moved into approvals, that’s huge,” Orchant said. “When sellers can understand guardrails more easily, they build more intelligent plans, and that equals lots of time savings.” 

Automated guardrails are a healthy starting point, letting the system score and accept or reject a proposed plan accordingly. Rejected plans can be sent back to Sales automatically for revisions, ideally with insight into what needs to be fixed. Of course, media planning is both an art and a science, so the option for a “manual override” to keep a long-term client, close a first-time client, or any number of other reasons, is also important. 

3. Unify data in a single platform:  Margin visibility and smart guardrails are only possible with a single source of truth. Referring to a dozen spreadsheets to test the viability of each campaign is not scalable. Publishers and broadcasters need to establish one place to house all of their media sales data and make the relevant pieces accessible to each stakeholder.

“If you have all the data booked in, you’re good,” Orchant says. “But most businesses don’t.” 

With a single source of truth, media companies can gain visibility into the profitability of their proposed plans and plan performance. With intelligent performance-tracking software, Ad Ops teams can get a daily read on audience extension delivery and adjust accordingly, so booked revenue mirrors actual revenue.

Teams can also use these insights to inform future guardrails, creating a flywheel of performance improvement. For example, knowing that a partner consistently underdelivers for a specific audience can help right-size its role in future media plans. 

By gaining visibility into margins, setting and automating guardrails, and unifying data in a single platform, media companies can ensure that audience extension boosts their revenue and profitability— without destroying their bottom lines. 

Boostr can help. Boostr unites media company data in a single platform, ensuring successful media planning from pre-sales through payment. To learn more about how Boostr can give you control of your audience extension efforts—and the profitability of every media plan— leanr more at


Boostr is the only platform that seamlessly integrates CRM and OMS capabilities to address the unique challenges of media advertising. With boostr, companies gain the unified visibility necessary to effectively manage, maximize and scale omnichannel ad revenue profitability with user-friendly workflows, actionable insights, and accurate forecasting.

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