Use it or lose it: What do to with the year-end surplus

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For marketers facing a fiscal year end of December 31, the clock is ticking to spend - or lose - any leftover money. In previous years, paid search was the obvious place to invest additional dollars. Today, it is still a viable solution, but there's a catch.

"If your most efficient channels are all maxed out, you may want to expand into less efficient channels such as content networks or include higher CPA keywords," said Bill Mungovan, director of search at Carat Fusion.

"Another angle is to dig up volume on less competitive opportunities like in-text advertising with Kontera, pay-per-call with Ingenio or tier-two search engines," he continued.

Due to the increased competition in paid search during the fourth quarter, Amy Auerbach, VP/director of PHDiq East, an Omnicom media planning firm, suggests "trying something new, such as a Facebook-sponsored news story.

"It's sold on a CPM, and you can target by demographic, which is very appealing," she said

Not only is Facebook is growing at a great clip, but Auerbach expects that people are more likely to connect over the holidays.

For those with significantly more to spend, Auerbach recommended what is known as a "Web roadblock."

"I would partner with a firm like Advertising.com and block out all inventory on Cyber Monday, the first workday after Thanksgiving, and run banners across the entire Web during lunchtime," she said, adding that this is a good alternative for those who did not lock in a homepage takeover for this lucrative date.

Also in the bold category is Bob Tripthi, sales strategy manager for Discover Financial Online. He would lay the early groundwork for social networking efforts with any extra dollars.

"Start small." he said, "Develop applications, groups, or a new widget to engage the customer."

Tripthi also recommended creating a YouTube video to increase exposure, build brand and product awareness. He suggested that marketers to optimize all video, working with the title and tags.

For those interested in getting their feet wet in mobile or local, Greg Sterling, founding principal of Sterling Market Intelligence, has a list that includes pay-per-call, Internet yellow pages, or mobile advertising by plugging into an existing network.

Finally, at least one marketer encourages investing those last dollars and cents in analytics.

Alan Osetek, EVP of sales and marketing for Connexion.a recommends conducting a cross media (e.g., display and search) analysis to see how consumers engage with an advertiser's brand across digital channels.

In addition to making you look like a superstar for producing valuable data Osetek said that "In 2008, you will be a much smarter marketer when it comes to media allocation optimization."

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