Default settings are not here to help.

The Devil is in the details.


News reports about political campaign fundraising mailers detailed an insidious feature in which subscriber lists were blasted with prompts to contribute funds while sleight of hand tactics for pre-checked boxes were automated for recurring donations.

Sometimes innocuous looking interfaces will automate the same pre-selected check boxes for you especially if you're still feeling your way around the ropes.

Why is it important to review settings for your account? Your savings may be at stake or you were running tests and didn’t pay close enough attention to what placemeents were activate. Soon budgets swirl down the drain.

Here are a few points to consider:

1) Operating beyond ad platform “defaults” is the only way to control costs and relevant activities.

2) Focused account and campaign settings allow us to narrow targeting in terms of who and how we target.

Starting a new promotional campaign can be daunting. This first phase of account setup should be an exercise in research and practice building.

Test all settings at manual in the beginning to prevent the ad system from muddying results or automatically pull levers too early in this traffic acquisition phase.

Here are a few examples of real world instances you may run into:

Native vs. Partner Placements:

If you are using Google Ads, you may see ballooning costs with no results within Search partners especially as the platform adds new network partners.

Easily you can break segments into separate campaigns to monitor the results closely.

Tight organization of ad components like keyword targets or custom audiences help improve CTR’s of exact matched terms by serving the right ad copy and landing page to the intended audience.

Audience Building:

Within Facebook Custom Audiences (and to a similar degree with LinkedIn) there are millions of interests you can search for including related organizations and similar companies.

If you were to look to recruit healthcare professionals you can dive into all the different themes like RN (Registered Nurses), PT (Physical Therapists) or if you’re a home health provider looking for solutions in data privacy and communications you can find audience members interested in HIPAA Compliance.

In digital advertising, there are quite a dizzying array of options. We’ll go through some of these features one by one to help you control your targeting and activity.

Geo Segmentation:

Hyper focused targeting by user location can oftentimes make or break your revenue goals.

Every metro is a distinct cost segment.

Make sure to tailor all your settings on the regional level and label your groups accordingly.

You can target cities and regions down to a DMA.

If you know which zones your audience inhabit you can accurately tailor messaging properly.

If you’re targeting multiple regions you can compare activity by location segments.

A signal that helps Google Ads Quality Score assessments also relates to how well the keyword and text combination relates to the region in question.

Age Groups:

One mistake often seen is the desire to capture millennials or generations that come from different consumer mentality.

But tastes are not defined by age groups.

More importantly, preferences transcend any sort of statistical categories.

That techno producer who didn't attend college can have the same film preferences as the art critic writing for the New York Times.

A general scope of age ranges can be used to provide a gauge of how each group may interact with your offerings but it should not be the main reason you are promoting your ideas.

Users often fall through the gaps when reporting their own age anyway.

Interests and Hobbies:

Having a blanket interest targeting may seem like the right choice especially for people who are aligned with niche topics like ‘freight forwarding’, ‘sustainable apparel’, or ‘home health’.

In a case study for a client we worked with, an apparel company in Philadelphia, users in the market for high tech watch bands that either had interests in ‘Apple Watch’ or ‘Android Watches’ proved in costs to be a summation of all different auction prices in that category.

Users grouped with other interests within the broad 'smartwatch' category mixed distinct relevancy scores.

We understood from these insights that targeting one set of users can determine different cost per click rates than other groups.

When we matched an interest with a psychographic element like [apple watches + camping] we could then track the average cost per impression by different broad and exact combinations in order to drop the cost per conversion from $10 to $2 per acquisition.


We won’t talk about gender targeting strategies here as the targeting in itself often is not that relevant.

Sometimes separating targeting by sexes tend to capture a smaller segment of the intended market.

This could also be a more expensive route in the long run as the system tends to inflate auction prices when you distinguish account management in this way.

Focus on the messaging so the right user in the proper psychographics will come to you.


As of writing the traffic split between Mobile and Desktop is 50/50 with a tilt towards handheld devices.

Of course, users will shift between viewing platforms throughout the day.

To achieve relevancy, you should create separate infrastructure in order to achieve user focused messaging per medium.

As a rule of thumb, video ads that are less than 10 second rolls would perform better on handheld devices. Generally, anything in a quick digestible format.

Long form textual, immersive and static content performs better on desktops. Instances where you need users to look at the finer details.

Cross format collaboration (such as remarketing or journey driven discoveries) between assets for Mobile and Desktops will help you acheive a seamless experience in your communications.

Ad Formats:

Learn how to organize and catalog your digital assets in a way in which you can review performance by thematic groupings.

For example, you can look at historical performance of: banner sizes by groupings, imagery, call to actions and use these insights to feed into future creative development.

Video content is a bit more tricky as the legwork to build meaningful content takes time and project management hours.

If you are successful streamlining an integrated production line of producers and content creators, then easily, by uploading and building out your channels, you can see how the audience reacts and use those inputs as your guiding compass to run successful promotional programs.

Also to touch briefly on keyword and textual ad targeting (which is covered at length in another article) having a well organized taxonomy of keyword and text ads will help you create a finely tuned reporting matrix to helps you identify performance gaps and troubleshoot very quickly.

A bird’s eye view of how all the connections interact in your promotional engine will help you understand your audience base even more.

Being able to drill down by creative components, in a precise way gives you the proper documentation to iterate and optimize on your successes.

Being clear about how each feature in the platform of your choosing ads to the focus of the campaign will help champion your efforts and wins to various stakeholders in an accurate way.

This does not need to be a tedious affair: product and data feeds if set up properly and managed programatically can help automate your settings with the right inputs and creative dispatches through a connection by each platform’s respective APIs.