How do I troubleshoot and optimize my programmatic campaign?

So you’ve learned how to properly set up a campaign and have reviewed our programmatic best practices, and yet your campaign still isn’t spending or performing as well as you’d hoped. What’s next?

Start with the below high-level checklist before diving into more specific recommendations:

  • Make sure your IO is activated and that your daily, monthly, and lifetime budgets are entered correctly
  • Check that your line item is targeting only your specified deal to avoid open exchange demand competing with your deal
  • Verify your campaign budget and starting bid; You’ll want to make sure that your bid is adequate to reach your target audience and KPIs
  • Check your reporting. What is your bid rate and win rate?
    • If your bid rate is too low, your targeting might be overly restrictive
    • If your win rate is too low, try increasing your CPM
    • If you’re experiencing a high volume of errors and timeouts, please reach out to your Outbrain representative


What optimizations can I make to increase scale?

Scaling and pacing should be your top priority before looking to make KPI-focused optimizations, the reason being that KPI-driven adjustments may further damage scale. That being said, as a general rule of thumb, always check that your campaign is pacing properly and hitting daily budget caps before moving forward with additional optimizations.

If at any point your campaign is unable to spend its budget in full, whether that is generally or due to performance-driven optimizations, you can try the below suggestions to jumpstart delivery:

  • Remove pre-bid brand safety and/or viewability features (if leveraging)
  • Remove extensive targeting such as geo, niche audiences (ex. retargeting 1st party data), and day-parting
  • Shorten extensive block lists and/or open up allowlists
  • Remove gratuitous category blocks
  • Raise frequency caps
  • Increase bids (recommended to be at least 10% higher than the floor price to account for DSP/exchange fees)
    • You can try increasing bids gradually in 10-15% increments until you start to see increased scale
  • Check line item budgets to ensure daily cap isn’t being hit
  • Include all device types
  • Ensure your creatives have been approved by your DSP and Outbrain. Please note, content rejections could be the reason your campaign isn’t spending. Refer to this article for our content guidelines and best practices

What optimizations can I make to increase viewability?

Viewability optimizations can be a bit nuanced due to the common usage of a third-party measurement partner. That being said, we have a few tips to help you set your campaign up for success.

  • Test Outbrain’s High Viewability Deal
  • Increase the viewability filter in Targeting settings to increase overall viewability. If you’re seeking to optimize toward specific viewability metrics in a third-party partner, such as DoubleVerify, you’ll need to pull reporting from their dedicated platform and optimize using that data (we don’t have visibility into their platform)
  • DV360 Only: do not use auto-bidding toward viewable impressions, as this will prevent the line item from spending


What optimizations can I make to increase CTR?

You should begin with the below suggestions when CTR is your priority:

  • Test Outbrain’s High CTR deal
  • Leverage algo/auto bidding to “maximize clicks”
  • Optimize your creative:
    • Pause low-performing ads
    • Refresh creative by changing images, titles, descriptions, and/or CTA(s). For further information, you can refer to Outbrain’s Creative Best Practices
    • Ensure creative is aligned with your goals (ex. Do certain images perform better for engagement, and others for awareness? Adjust accordingly)
  • Optimize bids by ad or placement
  • Implement bid multipliers to optimize toward engagement:
    • Apps and URLs
    • Audience lists
    • Demographics
    • Geos
    • Dates/times
    • Devices
  • Perform an audit of the publisher list to exclude those that are underperforming


What optimizations can I make to boost conversions?

If you are aiming for conversions, make sure that any CTR-focused optimizations do NOT exclude low-CTR publishers that are yielding conversions. Furthermore, if you are taking into account both CTR and conversions, always prioritize conversions as your primary KPI, as CTR and conversion-focused optimizations often clash.

When seeking to maximize conversions, opt for these strategies:

  • Test Outbrain’s High Conversion deal
  • Leverage algo/auto bidding to “maximize conversions”
  • Optimize your ads by testing new creatives and ensuring your messaging is clear and concise
  • Implement bid multipliers to optimize toward conversions:
    • Apps and URLs
    • Audience lists
    • Demographics
    • Geos
    • Dates/times
    • Devices
  • Perform an audit of the publisher list to exclude those that are underperforming


Still not seeing results? Reach out to your Outbrain representative for further assistance.

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