9 Paid Media Mistakes to Avoid

Remember the good old days when paid media was easy? You chose your keywords, set your bids, drafted your ad copy and tweaked as needed. But somewhere over the years, paid advertising platforms have become more and more complex, leaving more room for potentially costly errors. We’ve gathered nine potential paid media mistakes to avoid when setting up digital ads for your recruiting firm.

1. Use the default settings

Unfortunately, search engines don’t always have the advertiser’s best interest at heart. Take a careful look at your campaign settings to ensure that they align with your goals.

One example would be default advanced location targeting. For most advertisers, it almost always makes sense to ensure that the advanced location targets are set to “People in my target location” and to exclude “People in my excluded locations.” However, in the world of recruiting, where you aren’t always filling job orders where you are located, it is probably better to have these advanced location targets set to “People in or searching for my target location” and “People in or searching for my excluded locations” respectively. This is important as it keeps your geotargeting tight and avoid one of the most common paid media mistakes.

2. Rely on Smart campaigns

In theory, Smart campaigns are great. They are the search engine’s way to “helping” advertisers by simplifying the requirements to set up a basic campaign. The problem is, they also take most of the control out of your hands and don’t seem to drive as many conversions, despite receiving quite a bit of traffic.

Instead of saving time by using them, it would be a better use of your time and money to hire someone to build out search campaigns in place of Smart campaigns. Even if it costs a little money, it’ll almost certainly have a better ROAS (return on advertising spend) in the long run.

3. Choosing the wrong bidding strategy for your goals

Another one of those common paid media mistakes is choosing the wrong bid strategy for your goals. Bid strategies could be a whole blog topic on its own, but here’s the short version:

Target Impression Share: This bidding strategy aims to get marketers the most visibility. As a result, costs are typically inflated and you may not see an increase in lower-funnel metrics, as the focus is truly on visibility.

Maximize Clicks: This bidding strategy focuses on gaining as much traffic as possible. Similar to the previous strategy, the focus isn’t on lower-funnel metrics, so you may see a decrease in conversion rate. This could indicate that the traffic may not be as high quality.

Maximize Conversions with no CPA Target: This bidding strategy aims to get as many conversions as it can, while also striving to spend the full budget that it is given. If you use Max Conversions, we recommend starting with a low-budget, especially while the algorithm is learning. Otherwise, it may spend your full budget at a very high CPA (cost per action).

Maximize Conversions with a CPA Target: This bidding strategy aims to get as many conversions as it can within the Target CPA. This is a great strategy if there’s enough data for the bidding algorithm to learn from. Be aware that if the target CPA is set too low, it can squelch volume. Because of this, if you have low-volume campaigns, use a portfolio bidding strategy.

Maximize Value: This bidding strategy is about driving as much conversion value as possible, while also striving to hit the budget. These are very similar to Maximize Conversions, except slightly more useful because it has a qualitative factor (tracking value in addition to volume).

Target ROAS: This bidding strategy is fantastic if you have conversion value data. It will try to drive as many conversions as possible while achieving you ROAS goals. Similar to setting a target CPA, if you set it too low, it can squelch volume. However, what’s great about this strategy is that it will help you max out your campaigns while hitting the profitability that you need to achieve.

4. Choosing the wrong keywords for your goals

This is a very common mistake because there are endless keyword possibilities, and it’s easy to go too general when choosing keywords. It would be a dream if every recruiter could rank well for the keyword “recruiter,” but that’s never going to happen. Because of this, we have to get creative. Instead of just “construction recruiter,” try expanding your keyword list to include “construction executive recruiter Minnesota.” 

While the first term might still technically be topically relevant, it isn’t quite going to give enough detail on what the searcher is trying to find. This means it might be tough to compete on those terms, as more general terms tend to be higher volume and can easily spend a lot of money quickly while having lower than average conversion rates.

Put yourself in the mind of a potential client or candidate and consider what you would search if you were in their shoes. There’s a good chance you’re going to use something called a long-tail keyword, which is a keyword that is longer. Easy enough, right? They typically get less overall traffic than general keywords, but usually have a higher conversion value because they are more focused.

5. Using the same ad for everything

This seems like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised. Customizing ad copy and creatives can take some legwork, but it’s so worth it! Being relevant to the prospect is an easy way to increase click-through rates whether it be through social media ads, Display Ads or Search Ads.

There are tools out there to help you brainstorm ideas for new ads which can enhance your media buying strategy.

6. Driving traffic to content that doesn’t align with their goals

It’s imperative to be relevant and useful to your prospects. With that being said, it’s easy to sometimes push prospects toward content that we want them to consume, while forgetting about—or not accounting for—what they really care about.

Put yourself in your future client or candidate’s shoes. If you wanted to know what industries someone works with, would you fill out a form to download a whitepaper? Probably not. You just want to know about industries! Make sure the content is relevant to what the prospect is seeking.

Also, keep a close eye on your on-site metrics like bounce rates, session duration and conversion rate. These can be used to determine whether your paid media is effective and where you can make adjustments.

7. Not keeping an eye on display placements

This is one of the most painful paid media mistakes to catch in paid media audits. It really stinks to see a client has accidentally spent all of their budget on junky placements that are unlikely to have been visited by their target audience.

Keep a close eye on where your display ads are placed, and be sure to exclude ones that are irrelevant or low quality. In addition, be sure that you have brand safety controls to set the types of content you are willing to deliver your ads alongside.

8. Not paying attention to your competitors

It’s like anything in business; keep a close eye on your competitors. Just because they are doing something doesn’t mean you need to be doing it too, but if nothing else, you can use this as brainstorming. Plus, it’s always a good idea to know how your competitors are messaging themselves so you can differentiate your firm.

You can also identify which keywords they are bidding on and gaps that might exist between your keywords and theirs for new expansion ideas.

9. Not testing enough

It doesn’t matter if you’re using paid media on Facebook, Google, Bing or LinkedIn, you should always be testing. You can test anything from channels, targeting, settings, bidding strategies, creatives, landing pages and more! The important thing is you’re doing it.


Overwhelmed? Don’t be! Our dedicated marketing team at Recruiters Websites is here to solve of your paid media mistakes before they’re created. Adding paid ads to your marketing strategy is just one piece of the puzzle, and we want to help solve it for you. Let’s chat!

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Sam Prost

Sam Prost is a digital content writer with five years of experience who uses her upbeat and creative energy to write fresh, fun and custom content for our clients.

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