Performance optimization is one of the fundamental pillars required to succeed in the digital advertising space. Clichés exist for a reason, but this one is tried and true. Optimizing ad spend based on performance, in real-time, is crucial in ensuring that the right people see the right message at the right time and in the right place (and for the right price).
Plan Ahead: Understand what you can Automate
Not sure where to start? Putting pen to paper really helps understand what can be automated. Think about your everyday optimization activities: draw charts, take notes, write down each workflow you perform, step-by-step.
Ask yourself these questions (and more):
- What are your main KPIs? What are the goals? What is considered an ad with poor KPIs, or good KPIs, or even fantastic KPIs?
- What actions do you take if your ads are underperforming?
- What actions do you take if your ads are performing well?
- What actions do you take to ensure you are spending your budgets in full?
- Who do you notify when there are anomalies in performance (e.g., extremely high CPMs)?
- What date range of data do you usually look at when making these decisions?
- What attribution window do you use?
- How often are you performing these checks? Every night at 9pm? Every morning at 8am?
- Do you have different goals for each type of initiative?
- Do you have different goals for each division of your business?
Identify common themes, such as:
- Every time my CPA is more than 2x my goal, I pause the ad sets immediately
- Every time my CPA is coming in under my goal, I increase my budgets by 20% to try to capture more conversions at that price
- Whenever I notice something unusual, I always email my coworker to let her know
- If my ROAS is more than 25x AND my CPA is coming in under $50, this is a great ad, so I'll increase my budgets aggressively AND increase my bid to ensure I spend enough
- How many scenarios are there? Good, neutral, bad? Amazing, great, decent, neutral, bad, absolutely terrible?
Create workflow maps that detail each scenario:
- Thresholds which must be met
- Brackets or ranges for your KPIs that drive your decisions
- The actions you take as a result of each scenario
Trust me: write this down on paper. Or on a fancy whiteboard book if you have one. The key is to start simple:
Then add complexity (if needed):
Plan Ahead: Understand what Triggers are Available
All performance metrics are available in the Automation Engine. Think about what you need to achieve the following aspects.
- What kind of optimization are you performing?
- Cost-based optimization
- Revenue-based optimization
- Cost and revenue-based optimization
- What are your KPIs?
- ROAS, CPA, CVR, etc.
- Are there any constraints?
- Significance thresholds - minimum spend, impressions etc.
- Time-based constraints - different thresholds at different time of the day or week?
- What other information do you need to factor in?
- Current Weather or Temperature?
- Current Events?
Plan Ahead: Create your own Custom Metrics
Need some metrics that aren't there?
- Create your own using custom metrics
- Reach out to your account manager to discuss what needs to be added.
Structure your Rule Sets and Rules
Rule Sets are designed to help you organize your Rules. Here are some example structures that some of our clients have found success with:
- Bidding Rules
- Awesome Ads
- Good Ads
- Bad Ads
- Terrible Ads
- Monitoring Rules
- High CPM
- No Conversions
- Campaign Spend
- Optimization Rules
- Bid Adjustments
- Budget Adjustments
- Pause/Activation Adjustments
- Time-Based Optimization Rules
- 9am Check
- 3pm Check
- 9pm Check
Realistically, it's up to your unique needs — experiment and decide what works for you!
We recommend using a relatively low frequency for performance optimization rules. Changing your bid or budget resets any momentum gained in terms of delivery, so we recommend keeping this to a maximum of 3-4 times per day.
Common frequencies for each use case:
- Every 24 hours: budget rebalancing, bid adjustments for campaigns with a longer flight or deeper conversion funnel metric that needs time to "settle"
- Every 12 hours: budget rebalancing, bid adjustments for campaigns that have strict goals which must be met or a shorter flight
- Every 6 hours: budget rebalancing, bid adjustments for short campaigns (one day sales)
- Every hour: for time-based rules (e.g., check at 9am) or for always-on notification emails to catch random "spikes"
Rule Logic — Structure your Rule using IF, ALTERNATIVELY IF, and OTHERWISE
A common Rule structure is such that each branch represents a different "scenario" (and therefore a different course of action). e.g.,
- IF (CPA < $20), THEN increase bid and budget
- ALTERNATIVELY IF (CPA between $20 and $30), THEN increase budget
- ALTERNATIVELY IF (CPA between $30 and $40), THEN decrease budget
- OTHERWISE (CPA doesn't fall into any of the above scenarios), THEN pause
Not sure what's best to use? A good rule of thumb to use is that each rule branch should present a different action or actions to take.
Rule Logic — Structure your Conditions using Condition Groups
Now for the fun part... think about how your conditions should be combined together.
- Do they all need to be met? Or does only one need to be met at any point in time?
- Do some conditions need to all be met, and others not?
Not sure? Create some sample data or use real data and work it through on paper — you should be able to quickly see which path you end up going down with real numbers.
Rule Logic — Accounting for Business Goals, Initiative Goals, Time of Day
- Have different goals for each business division, or type of campaign (e.g., app installs vs. awareness)? Use Intel Tags to manage your assets — learn more here.
- Need your rule to run at specific hours of the day only? Read about time of day controls here.
Rule Logic — Configure your Actions for each Scenario
We recommend adding a Notify action to all of your Rule branches as a best practice.
See here for a full list of the available actions (remember, these are determined by the entity level your rule is scoped to).