3 ways to optimize your paid media campaigns

It can be easy to want to sit back and relax after launching your paid media campaigns. You’ve put in all the hard work of designing creative and writing copy, setting bids and nailing your targeting – it can feel like a break is well overdue. 

This is one of the most expensive mistakes you can make in paid advertising. 

To get the maximum return on investment for your paid media, you cannot take a set-it-and-forget-it approach. From day one, you’ll want to be optimizing your campaigns to ensure that they are working effectively. 

But that leads me to the questions: What exactly should I be optimizing? Well, there are three key areas to look at: bids, audiences, and creative. And I recommend that you optimize them in that order. Let’s dig into each of the three ways to optimize your paid media campaigns. 

The insights included in this article are taken from HubSpot Academy’s free course on Paid Media Strategy, created in partnership with Brainlabs. 

1. Bids

The first thing that you want to optimize is your bidding. There are a lot of ways you might be bidding on your campaigns. You could be bidding manually, where you are going into the ad platforms yourself and setting a bid for each of your chosen keywords. There are also a variety of automated bidding strategies across platforms. For example, you might be using Google’s machine learning to employ the Target ROAS (return-on-ad-spend) bidding strategy. Or maybe you’re using the Highest Value bidding strategy on Facebook which is designed to bid based on one’s likelihood to purchase. 

Whatever strategies you’re using, you need to be monitoring your ad performance to ensure that they are working correctly and spending your budget accordingly. For example, you might learn that your maximum bid is restricting your campaign from being served as frequently as you would like. Or maybe you are consistently not spending your daily budget. Or maybe your cost-per-acquisition is too high and therefore you’re only getting one conversion a day. All of these are signals that your bidding strategy is not working effectively and that there may be other, more suitable methods. 

2. Targeting

Once you’re happy with how your money is being spent, the next thing you want to look at is targeting. There’s a lot that falls into this bucket. For example, there is location, time of day, day of week, age, interests, placements, and more. All of these criteria come together to reach the most relevant audience for your product or service. 

When I come to refine targeting, I like to ask myself: What can I exclude? If you’re getting started with running paid media campaigns, you probably won’t get your targeting perfect right away. Even if you’ve been running ads for years, there is still likely an opportunity to refine your targeting or even explore new avenues.

When you take a look at your reporting, try parsing out your data by your targeting criteria to see if you’re overinvesting in areas that aren’t bringing a return. Is it more expensive to target a particular location than others? Are you paying to place ads during times with low conversion rates? Are your ads appearing on irrelevant websites or being displayed for keywords that you should exclude? By answering questions like these, you’ll be able to spot places where you’re spending money without getting a return and remove it from your targeting. 

3. Creative 

Once you are happy with who you are reaching with your ads, you can refine your creative to make your ads even more relevant to that specific audience. Taking an experimental mindset will help you learn which creative options perform best. (If you want to learn how to get started with A/B testing, check out this free A/B testing kit.) 

There are a lot of creative elements of your ads that you can test. For example, you could try out a different copy for your paid search ads, play around with creative types for your social ads, and even create a different landing page experiences to optimize your conversion rate. All of these are things you can (and should!) consider when looking to improve the performance of your paid media campaigns. 

But remember, when making any optimizations to your campaigns, be sure to only make one change at a time. If you pull too many levers at once, it’ll be impossible to know exactly which change made what impact. By tackling each of these three ways to optimize your paid media campaigns, you’ll have a stepwise and repeatable formula that you can use again and again to maximize your advertising success. 

If you want to learn more about how to build an effective paid media strategy, check out HubSpot Academy’s Free Paid Media Course, featuring industry experts from Brainlabs. 

About the author

Corey Braccialini is a content creator at HubSpot Academy who is passionate about teaching people how to do complicated things in simple ways. Corey received an M.S. in Digital Marketing Strategy from Trinity College Dublin and is inspired by using new technologies to solve timeless problems. On the weekends, you can find Corey drinking a pint of local craft beer while thinking of ways to reduce flywheel friction.