Judging My Campaign

Once you have set up your ad campaign, it’s time for the most important process in online advertising – judging your campaign.

To ensure a continuing good return on investment, you have to keep checking on your campaign. This is to make sure it’s doing what you want it to do, and as well as possible.



There are some things you need to keep in mind when judging your campaign. Unfortunately, it’s not just a case of sending money to where you get the most clicks or conversions. Well not quite.

For example – are the clicks you bought delivering the results you intended? Not all clicks are created equal, so keep your eye on the prize when judging your campaign.

If you started running a campaign to get more sales, then the only question is whether or not you got more sales. If you haven’t then you may want to reconsider your advertising partners.

However, it’s important to let your campaign run for long enough to gather reliable data on how well it is performing.

A month might seem like a lifetime to you after your campaign starts. Time isn’t really the main factor in gathering data though. You need to show your ads to enough people before you make any decisions. If you don’t gather enough data you won’t be able to tell with any certainty if your campaign is a success or not.

Once you have got enough data to make a decision, optimise your campaign. Move your budget around, stop what isn’t working etc. When this is done, make note of what you did and when, and reset the clock. Then wait another week/month/1,000 impressions, and look again. Did your optimisations work?

If so, do it again. If not, try something else (or put the campaign back to how it was).

Note: Only judge your optimisations based on stats after the time period you implemented them.

So if you want the best out of your ad, judging your campaign is an ongoing process. Keep checking stats regularly to see how you’re doing.


People React Uniformly

One of the strangest things about online advertising is that results for most campaigns stay pretty consistent over time. If a campaign starts off with a CTR (the ratio of clicks to impressions) of 0.5% on a site, then it is likely that it will remain at that level throughout the campaign.

What this means is that every day roughly the same amount of people on that site click on the ad – which is strange because it implies uniformity in people’s thinking/behaviour patterns which you wouldn’t expect.

To put it another way – do you think that you react the same to advertising as most other people with vaguely similar traits to you? No? Well statistically speaking – you’re wrong! That’s not to say people aren’t different, only that if you show an ad to two different groups of 1,000 people, about the same number from each group will click on it.

Why does this matter? It matters because it means that when you look at the stats for your ad campaign you can judge it more effectively, as you can be fairly sure that the stats you see won’t change much.

This isn’t always true of course – over a long period of time the CTR of most campaigns will drop, and there will always be the possibility of strange and random turns of events. But generally speaking, the CTR of your campaign will be pretty stable – once you’ve delivered enough ads that is.


When Can I Judge My Campaign?

To be able to judge whether your campaign is doing well, you need to first gather enough data. As a rule of thumb, we say that 1,000 impressions is the minimum you need to serve to be able to judge anything – be it the success of a keyword, an ad or a site.

Any amount under 1,000 is insignificant. This is because the results that you get from a few hundred impressions are unlikely to be representative of the results you get in the long term.

Think of it like throwing a party. The first few people you invite may say yes, but that doesn’t mean that everyone will come.  You won’t know until a reasonable amount of people have replied how big a bash it will really be.

It is also a convenient marker, as 1,000 impressions is essentially 1 unit of online advertising. CPM means cost per thousand and is therefore easy to compare and contrast once you’ve actually hit that cost.

Also, 1 click from 1,000 impressions makes a CTR of 0.1% which is the industry average for display advertising. So to find out if your ad is at least “average” you need to give it this amount of impressions to let it prove itself.

This means that if you are running 100 keywords, and only 2 of them have broken the 1,000 impressions mark, then you can only judge those two keywords. However, if those 100 keywords have served over 1,000 impressions between them for an ad, you can still judge that ad.


Granular Reporting

When looking at reports about your ad campaign, you should keep in mind that one ad will react differently to a site/keyword than another. So judging a keyword on its performance across all ads is counterproductive.

If that keyword performs well for only one of the ads you are serving, then it is still worth using for just that ad. Same with your ads – if they do well on one site (or even one webpage/section) it is still worth running that ad.

Combining the results of everything you run gives you a good overview of how you are doing, but it does not tell you which bit of your campaign you should prune – for that you have to optimise your campaign.


Next: Optimising My Campaign