From setup to optimisation, through to measurement. Marketing teams all over the world are trying to find efficiencies with their paid media strategy to ensure they’re getting the best possible ROI. If you’re a results-driven Marketing Manager or a CMO looking to find out what your team can be doing more of, keep reading.

Our years of experience delivering high-performance campaigns for some of the world’s biggest brands mean we know exactly where those hidden opportunities lie. Here we share our insight into the five main red flags we see when auditing new accounts to help you discover if you’re successfully avoiding these pitfalls, or falling foul to common mistakes.

1. Not exiting the learning phase

The learning phase is the period in which a platform assesses how best to serve your ads. While the exact requirements to exit the learning phase are not always clear, most platforms require about 50 conversions or goal actions per day for the most effective algorithmic optimisation. The algorithm must have a chance to learn about your audience and understand which users are going to respond best to your ads, so you won’t see the maximum performance from your ads until they are out of the learning phase. Give the campaigns some time and sufficient spend and you will reap the rewards.

Top tips:

  • Front-weight spend to drive initial learnings quickly
  • Avoid making any significant edits if possible, as this will restart the learning phase
  • Allow performance to stabilise before making decisions - decisions need to be fully informed by meaningful data

2. Trying to test too many variables at once

trying to test too many variables at once

This is a common mistake. Testing is essential and a great way to improve and grow your campaigns, however, it’s only worth doing if it’s done right! The first rule of a fair test is to keep all variables constant except one, and the same applies to your ads. If you run two ads which have a different copy and creative, how do you know which component is responsible for the difference in performance? Is it both? Formulate your tests strategically and methodically, ensure your results are statistically significant and then you will be in a position to apply your learnings.

Top tip: Devise testing roadmaps that outline all of the tests you want to conduct with a clear hypothesis. Record your findings and note down what was learned or implemented as a result.

3. Measuring success against too many metrics

measuring success against too many metrics

When running campaigns, deciding what metrics to focus on can get confusing. All of our marketing intuition tells us that a low CPC or CPL is good, but it’s all relative to the quality of the clicks or leads. That’s why we stress the importance of defining your measure of success and sticking rigorously to that. 

Want to drive a certain ROAS? Or POAS? Make that your focus. Your click-through rate, for example, becomes less important if you are meeting, or exceeding, your marketing goals. Of course, if you improved that, you might get even better results. However, that might inadvertently reduce the quality of traffic.

It’s important to bear in mind that if you are going to conduct tests then you need to measure the impact against your KPI. Avoid getting lost in how it has impacted every other metric, and you will be on your way to reaching your goals faster.

Top tip: Ensure your goals align with what you want to drive in each phase of the consumer funnel. This will guarantee you are driving quality engagement or traffic at the top of the funnel that will ultimately be more likely to convert at the bottom of the funnel.

4. Spreading budget too thin

spreading budget too thin

It’s not unusual to come across ad accounts where one promotion is broken out into 10 campaigns, each with a multitude of ads. These are the ways of old when granular control was king. To maximise success you need to ensure that every ad is getting sufficient spend behind it to fuel the algorithm. Spreading your budgets too thin not only results in watering down your learnings but also leads to a poorer performing, inefficient ad account.

Another factor here is being flexible and adapting to your budget. The type of targeting you do and the number of ad variants you have should be proportional to your budget. The bottom line is always bear your budget in mind when devising the strategy, not the other way around.

Top tips:

  • If you have a small budget then it is best to be more focused or niche with your targeting/keywords
  • If you have bigger budgets then you will benefit more from going broader with your targeting/keywords, having more ad variants and letting the algorithm work it’s magic (of course with a watchful eye making optimisations where needed). This is when the human element of campaign management is particularly invaluable

5. Underestimating the power of good creative


When scrolling through my Instagram feed, I tend to see a lot of social media gurus professing that the number one reason people's ads are failing is because of their targeting. I beg to differ.

Pretty much everyone is (or definitely should be!) on board with pixel-based and CRM audiences now. Most platforms are also very good at identifying users likely to engage or convert even within a more broadly defined interest audience. The point is there isn’t so much mystery today around who your audience is or how to target them. Traditional personas have been binned in favour of data-based targeting. And rightly so.

In my humble opinion, the main culprit of poor performance is bad creative! Your targeting can only go so far, but once your ads are in front of people they have to make an impact. 

Top tips:

  • Focus on eye-catching content that gets the message across instantaneously through engaging creative and punchy copy
  • For search ads, ensure that your copy is directly relevant to the search query for optimum performance

Improving your campaign’s performance requires a clear strategy, best-practice execution, and patience. By utilising the tips mentioned here alone you could drastically improve your paid media results and unlock your growth potential. Ensure you are allowing the platform to learn and optimise, conduct testing and strategise in proportion to your budget, clearly define your measure of success, and don’t forget to make your ads stand out!

At Ayima we care about driving performance for all of our clients. How do we do that? By utilising our wealth of talented paid media specialists, tapping into our technology and delivering the best possible ROI. We can help you understand where bespoke changes in your paid media strategy are needed to drive big growth. Our team of experts are on hand if you’d like to discuss more. Get in touch

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