5 Tips for Running & Optimizing Digital Ad Campaigns

digital ads / digital campaigns / metrics / online ads / optimization / testing   Posted on Feb 4, 2013 by Amy Niles Gonzalez

There’s an art and a science to running digital ad campaigns: one part creative, one part analytic.

Effective digital campaigns need engaging, emotional creative that reflects your message. At the same time, they need active campaign management that grasps and simultaneously shifts key metrics to ensure optimal performance and desired results.

To peek under the hood, here’s a recent campaign that highlights five tips of running and optimizing digital campaigns.

  • Set your goal: You need to define what you’re trying to achieve to measure your success. Take time to think about it though, and remind yourself of it throughout campaign. In this instance, the goal of the campaign was clear: Deliver 8K more Facebook fans to a page that had 192K likes in roughly 1 week while spending less than $0.50 per additional like. Not unreasonable, but also not a walk in the park. The key metric we optimized towards was cost per like.
  • Review past campaigns: You can always learn from the past. Just because it happened before, does not mean it will happen again. But it might, and can still aid in narrowing the initial aspects to try. In this case, the client had run similar Facebook campaigns in the past, some very successful and some less so. We reviewed their creative and targeting, and used that to inform this campaign. Since we were trying to build likes, we opted for the social ad format that enables people to like the page within the ad, removing an extra click from the process.
  • Develop lots of variations: Similarly, look back to messaging that has worked before, as well as what you’re interested in. In this case we had a clear sense of the call to action: Like Us. What we didn’t have was a sense of which themes were going to perform the best. So we developed 5 to start, basically different phrases to say the same thing: “stop fighting, start fixing” using different images, titles, and copy.

  • Test everything: You may have a sense of what will work, but you really won’t know until you try and measure it. In this campaign, we tested combinations of everything: images (7), copy (9), targets (8). A couple highlights:
    • For images: We learned pretty early that juxtaposing opposing politicians worked best. What was even more interesting is that specifically using images of those same two politicians with grumpy expressions dramatically outperformed more traditional ones. So we applied the same principle elsewhere, and saw the same result.
    • For targeting: One of the prior campaigns had almost exclusively targeted individuals who liked a certain group, attracting many supporters at low cost pers. That same tactic, tried again roughly a year later, failed miserably. What worked instead was targeting the message to people who liked specific politicians. This led us to target more individual politicians throughout.
    • For ad format: We also tested a sponsored story alongside the targeted marketplace ad format. And while that format resulted in a significantly higher click through rate, it generated far fewer likes, driving up our key metric of cost per like. We paused immediately and reallocated our budget to the more productive format.
  • Optimize all aspects: You may think you have figured the campaign on day 3, but by day 5 your metrics begin to slip. Perhaps the climate has changed and the message no longer works. Perhaps the message works, but the same people have seen it repeatedly and still aren’t responding. You have to work on the campaign every day to improve or hold your metrics from gradual decline.

In the end, the campaign more than delivered. Here are the top-line campaign stats:

  • 9.2MM+ impressions
  • 22K+ clicks
  • 0.24% click through rate
  • 18K+ likes
  • $0.17 cost per like

Our client was pleased: “The Blueprint Interactive team exceeded all expectations. The team tested different strategies, images and copy to optimize a campaign that gave us serious momentum heading into our signature event of 2013.”
--Director of Digital Media

And we couldn’t be happier.

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