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How To Optimize Your Ad Spend With Data Science

James Huang | 2021.04.15

Online advertising has made marketing strategies transparent in ways that would have seemed unimaginable a few decades ago. Today, you have the tools available to trace just about any conversion or purchase back to the content that first caught the customer’s eye. You can track and measure the impact of every variation in messaging. You can see exactly how many people saw or clicked an ad. You can calculate the precise ROI of every dollar you spend.

That level of granular understanding and accountability is fantastic for keeping marketers on their toes, but it also brings enormous pressure. When you’re working with multiple channels and a finite budget, you constantly have to make tricky decisions about where to direct your resources. Every misstep is glaringly clear to you and to your colleagues.

Utilizing data, marketers can optimize their ad performance throughout multiple levels including creative, placement, and campaign. 

What is Optimization?

Optimization is the process of increasing the impact of an ad. Simply put, it's using past performance and future forecasting to determine how much to spend for future goals, and to amend campaigns in-flight. Optimizing campaigns involves cutting losses for underperforming segments, and scaling up high-performing segments.

Levels to Optimize Your Ads

This optimization process begins with creative, moves on to placements and individual publishers, and finally to a campaign-wide level.

Optimization can be done pre-flight, during a campaign, or after a campaign’s completion.

Optimization begins at the most granular level so that easy corrections are taken into account before making sweeping campaign management changes. Start by re-evaluating your creatives.

There are some cases for making more drastic changes to your campaigns, however: 

•    Poor overall CTR (click-through rate) on all creatives and placements (with significant sample size)

•    Poor overall CVR (conversion rate) on the clicks coming from a site (e.g., lots of clicks, but no conversions).

•    Prohibitive costs (high eCPMs) resulting in higher costs per click and action. Poor ROI.


Creative Level: The most important element in your media buying campaigns is your creative. Optimizing your creative units can help you determine if the problem is your inventory or creative unit. 

Placement Level: Finding the right placement that is driving performance for your campaign – homepage, leaderboard, run of site, you name it. 

Supplier level: You can optimize at the publisher level, which evaluates the publisher’s overall performance including all of their placements within a campaign.

Campaign Level: Finally, after a campaign has been optimized from a creative, placement, and site level, there are a few considerations you may want to make at the campaign level, such as day-parting, geo-targeting, browser, demographics, etc. Campaign level optimization is completed last, as you need to gather enough data to make informed decisions. For example, you could view an hourly breakdown of your campaign statistics to determine if campaign level day-parting should be included in your optimization efforts.

Optimization Engines

Optimisation Engines help brands and agencies optimize their media buying, often referred to as Optimization Engines. 

An Optimization Engine ensures an ad is delivered where it should be according to consumers, advertisers, and available websites.

Advances in creative optimizations have increased the ability of advertisers to maximize the effectiveness of their ads.

An optimization engine considers several factors before placing your ad:

Marketing goals: This could be increased site traffic, ad impressions, or a certain type of website for your ads.

Consumer response: This will try to replicate situations when users clicked your ad.

History: Previous patterns of how campaigns have performed, and use it to your advantage.

Bid amount: A higher bid will give you access to more inventory, and a lower bid may limit your options for available placements.

Target: The audience you are trying to reach.

With the AI, optimisation engine can learn its strategy over the time and eventually decide a better ROI on every single move.

How To Optimize Your Ad Spend With Data Science
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