Troubleshooting & Improving Performance

In this section you will find recommendations to improve campaign performance as well as steps to troubleshoot for campaigns with restricted or no delivery.  

Campaign with no Delivery
Improving Pacing
Improving CTR or CPA
Overspend with Hard Cap Budgets


Campaign with no Delivery

If you have set a Line Item live, but it has not delivered any impressions, review the following recommendations to troubleshoot.

  1. If you have just set the campaign live, remember that there is a 3-hour delay in the Pontiac platform for most metrics.
    If you have just launched the campaign and need to know if it has begun serving, you can open the Line Item to see Real Time Delivery below the Line Item Flight Metrics. This is the only Real Time information about your campaign. See more information on Real Time Delivery here: Real Time Delivery. For more information on the reporting delay see here: Reporting Lag.
  2. Is your account disabled for low funding?
    If you see a yellow triangle next to the ‘Amin’ tab, your account may be low on funds. Open the ‘Admin’ tab and check your current balance. The platform pauses the campaigns on the account and restricts access to certain features until either a budget is added that is more than the daily spend or the daily spend is lowered so it is less than the budget in your account. To reactivate your account, either increase your budget or adjust the Lines to spend less.
  3. Are the active boxes checked for both the Advertiser and the Line item?
    If you do not see the Advertiser that you are looking for, try toggling the ‘Active’ dropdown to display Advertisers that are inactive. If the Advertiser appears when you switch to view ‘Inactive’ click on the Advertiser’s name and open the Advertiser menu. Select ‘Edit’, check the ‘Active’ box and ‘Save’. In the ‘Advertiser’ tab next to the name of the specific Advertiser you should see a green box with a check mark, this indicates that the Advertiser is active. If you see a red box, the Advertiser is ‘inactive’.
    Then check the Line Item, where you should see a green check box next to the ID number for the Line to indicate that the Line Item is ‘active’. If you see a red box, the Line Item is ‘inactive’. Click on the Line Item’s name to open the Line Item menu and select ‘Edit’. Check the ‘Active’ box then select ‘Submit Changes’.
  4. Are the Line Item Flight Dates set correctly?
    In the Advertiser tab, expand the Advertiser by clicking the arrow at the left most part of the screen, allowing you to view the Line Items under the Advertiser. You will see a ‘Start Date’ and ‘End Date’ for the campaign. Verify that these dates correspond with the dates in which the campaign should be running. If these dates are incorrect or you would like to extend the end date, click the name of the Line Item to open the Line Item Settings. Select the ‘Edit’ button and change the start date or end date by clicking the calendar icon and then selecting the desired date. If the start date has already passed, you will not be able to change it. However, you can de-activate the Line Item until the date that you would like the Line to begin serving again.
  5. Does the Reporting Interval correspond with the time frame that you are evaluating?
    The default Reporting Interval is set to ‘Yesterday’ and will display metrics for the previous day. If you are checking delivery for the current date, toggle the ‘Reporting Interval’ dropdown at the top of the screen to ‘Today’.
  6. Have the associated Creatives passed the Creative Audit?
    Select the Advertiser or Line Item to open the associated menu and expand the ‘Creatives’ section. Next to the name and ID of each Creative you will see two symbols. The left-most symbol indicates the ‘active’ or ‘inactive’ status of the Creative. If this symbol is a red box, under the Advertiser menu, click on the Creative name to open the window to edit the Creative. Check the ‘Active’ box and ‘Save’. The second symbol under ‘Audit Status’, will display the results of the Creative Audit process. This process takes up to 24 hours, so if you have just uploaded your Creatives you will see a yellow triangle indicating ‘audit pending’. The Line will not be able to serve until at least one of the associated Creatives is approved. Upon approval the symbol will change to a green check box. If the Creative is marked as sensitive you will see a green triangle and rejected Creatives will have a red box. For more information on the Creative Audit process see here: Creative Audit.
  7. Do all Audience segments associated have loads in them?
    If you are targeting a Remarketing Audience or Third-Party Audience segments, it is important to ensure that this Audience has active users. If there are no active users, the campaign cannot serve. To check the loads for a Remarketing segment open the Advertiser menu and expand the Audience section to view the Audience metrics. You should see ‘Total Loads’, ‘Avg Daily Uniques’, and ‘Avg Monthly Uniques’. If your Remarketing segment is showing 0 ‘Loads’, there may be an issue with the pixel placement. Email your Account Manager to check your pixel placement.
    If these are Third-Party segments, they will not show loads in the platform. Email your Account Manager to check the metrics for these Audiences. If the Audience does not contain an adequate number of users or the segment is expired, your Account Manager can recommend similar Audiences with a larger user pool.
  8. If you are targeting multiple Audiences, does the Boolean Logic make sense?
    If you are using several Audience segments, open the Line Item menu and look at the green box/boxes that contain the Audiences you are targeting. If there is an ‘And’ between the segments or groups of segments, this is restricting delivery to ONLY serve to individuals who belong to ALL of these segments or groups of segments. You can edit the logic by editing the Line and selecting ‘Associate Segments’. This will open the Audiences window where you can modify targeting to ‘Any’ or ‘All’ between segment groups. For more information see here: Boolean Logic.
  9. Are the geo restrictions too tight or conflicting?
    First, ensure that none of your geo parameters are conflicting, for example, if the Country you selected is ‘Mexico’, but the Lat Long Audience that you are targeting contains coordinates in the United States. If any of your geo parameters are conflicting your campaign cannot serve. If the geographic area that you are targeting is too small, delivery of your campaign could also be restricted. If you are using Zip Codes and not seeing success, try targeting a region or DMA instead. Zip Codes can be limiting because only 60% of computers are identifiable to the Zip Code level, so by using a region or DMA, you can achieve more scale and stay in the target area. If you are using a Lat Long Audience try expanding the Radius from 138m to 2251m. This should expand the potential Audience size and increase delivery.
  10. Are the bids set too low?
    Higher bids will help win more impressions and will also improve the quality of the inventory. If you are utilizing targeting tools this will decrease your potential audience size. If you are targeting an Onboarded Audience or a Third-Party Audience with an additional cost, we recommend that you add the associated price of the most expensive segment to your base and max bids to ensure that you can win impressions. The closing CPM will include the cost of the Audience data, so if your base bid is $2.43 and you’re targeting an Audience with a cost of $2.00, you would really be bidding $0.43 for the media. See our general bid recommendations here: Bid Recommendations.
  11. If you are using a site list, do the sites have ads on them?
    It is possible that the sites that you are targeting do not have ads on them or these ad slots are not available through the open exchange. You can check if a domain is available through the Pontiac platform by entering the site domain into your browser followed by /ads.txt. For example, www.yahoo.com/ads.txt. This will take you to a page detailing sellers through which ads on this domain can be purchased. If you see ‘appnexus.com’ followed by RESELLER, on this list, then the site is most likely accessible through Pontiac.

Improving Pacing

If you are unsatisfied with the scale of your campaign or your Line Items are pacing below 80%, we recommend evaluating the following potential issues or obstacles to delivery and making changes to your campaign accordingly.

  1. Remarketing Audience size
    If this is a remarketing campaign, the size of the audience may be restricting delivery. It takes some time after the pixel is placed on the website to build a substantial remarketing Audience. If the remarketing pixel was recently placed, it is normal for delivery to be limited and additional changes do not need to be made at this time. To check the loads for a Remarketing segment open the Advertiser menu and expand the Audience section to view the Audience metrics. You should see ‘Total Loads’, ‘Avg Daily Uniques’, and ‘Avg Monthly Uniques’. If your Remarketing segment is showing 0 ‘Loads’ after it has been placed for several days, there may be an issue with the pixel placement. Email your Account Manager to check pixel placement.
    You can increase your remarketing segment size by launching a simultaneous prospecting campaign, driving new users to your website who will then be added to this Audience. Additionally, you can add the segment pixel into the Creatives of your prospecting campaign to further increase your audience size by also adding users into the pool who see your ads, but don’t click on them or land on your website.
  2. Third-Party Audience Loads
    If you are using Third-Party Audiences email your Account Manager to check the metrics for these Audiences. If the Audience does not contain an adequate number of users, your Account Manager can recommend similar Audiences with more users that should improve delivery.
  3. Custom or On Boarded Audience Size
    Appropriate targeting will help make your campaign stronger. However, keep in mind, if the targeted pool is too small, the scale of your campaign will be limited. It is important to strike a balance between targeting and Audience size.
  4. Multiple Audience Segments
    If you are using several audience segments, open the Line Item menu and look at the green box/boxes that contain the Audiences you are targeting. If there is an ‘And’ between the segments or groups of segments, this is restricting delivery to ONLY serve to individuals who belong to ALL of these segments or groups of segments. Layering several Audiences in this manner could severely restrict the size of your potential Audience and will limit impressions served. You can edit the logic by editing the Line and selecting ‘Associate Segments’. This will open the Audiences window where you can modify targeting to ‘Any’ or ‘All’ between segment groups. For more information see here: Boolean Logic.
  5. Geo Targeting
    Geo-targeting is a valuable strategy to reach your desired Audience, however, if the geographic area that you are targeting is too small, delivery of your campaign could be restricted. If you are using Zip Codes and not seeing success, try targeting a region or DMA instead. Zip Codes can be limiting because only 60% of computers are identifiable to the Zip Code level, so by using a region or DMA, you can achieve more scale and stay in the target area. If you are using a Lat Long Audience try expanding the Radius from 138m to 2251m. This should expand the potential Audience size and increase delivery.
  6. Increase Bids
    Higher bids will help win more impressions and will also improve the quality of the inventory. If you are targeting an Onboarded Audience or a Third-Party Audience with an additional cost, we recommend that you add the associated price of the most expensive segment to your base and max bids to ensure that you can win impressions. The closing CPM will include the cost of the Audience data, so if your base bid is $2.43 and you’re targeting an Audience with a cost of $2.00, you would really be bidding $0.43 for the media. See our general bid recommendations here: Bid Recommendations.
  7. Sensitive Creatives
    If one of your Creatives is flagged as ‘Sensitive’, this content is allowed on the platform, but the Line Item will be restricted to the sensitive publishers that allow this type of content. Any exchanges that you selected to target will be ‘grayed’ out and only the exchanges allowing sensitive content will be targeted. This may restrict both delivery and performance of your campaign as these exchanges typically contain lower quality inventory and can also include fraud. Audit results can only be changed by resolving the issue that caused the Creative to be flagged as sensitive. If you think your Creative was flagged incorrectly, email your Account Manager. 

Improving CTR or CPA

As a rule of thumb, a campaign needs to run between 2-8 weeks to be running at optimal performance and become a positive investment. Algorithms learn over time to only serve ads to users likely to convert. While this may be frustrating, it is true for all DSP’s. Essentially the algorithms need to “learn” the way to find good users to serve ads to. They learn from “events” such as clicks or purchases. 

While the Pontiac algorithm will optimize many variables automatically, there are several manual optimizations that you can also try to improve campaign performance.

  1. Check Viewability
    If you are seeing impressions, but your CTR is unsatisfactory it could be because you are serving impressions with low viewability. If the ads are not visible, it is highly unlikely that users will interact with them. In the flight metrics of a Line item you can quickly compare the total impressions served to the number of viewable impressions. To see more about Line Item Flight Metrics see here: Line Item Flight Metrics. If a high percentage of impressions are not viewable this will impact CTR. In the targeting menu of the Line item, you can add a viewability threshold to restrict the algorithm from bidding on impressions that are unlikely to be viewable. This may restrict delivery, affecting the pacing of your campaign, but it should improve performance. Smaller Banner sizes and Native Ads also tend to have higher viewability.
  2. Increase Bids
    Higher bids help to win higher quality inventory, resulting in improved performance. If you are targeting an Onboarded Audience or a Third-Party Audience with an additional cost, we recommend that you add the associated price of the most expensive segment to your base and max bids to ensure that you can win impressions. The closing CPM will include the cost of the Audience data, so if your base bid is $2.43 and you’re targeting an Audience with a cost of $2.00, you would really be bidding $0.43 for the media. See our general bid recommendations here: Bid Recommendations.
  3. Evaluate Exchange Performance
    Enter into the Reporting tab and select the Advertiser and Line you wish to evaluate and update the report. Scroll down to the ‘Exchanges’ section. In this section you can evaluate each Publisher through which your ad has been served and the corresponding CTR. Campaign performance can be increased by removing Exchanges with low performance. To remove an exchange open the Line Item Targeting settings and in the ‘Exchanges’ tab select the red ‘minus’ sign next to the Exchange name. The Exchange should move from the right side of the window to the left and appear with a green plus sign next to the name. This indicates that you are no longer buying through this exchange. For information on Pontiac Exchange reporting see here: Exchange Reporting
  4. Evaluate Site Domain Performance
    Enter into the Reporting tab and select the Advertiser and Line you wish to evaluate and update the report. Scroll down to the ‘Site Domain’ section. In this section you can evaluate each Site that the ad has been published on and the corresponding CTR. Performance could be increased by creating a site list with the high performing sites, or by creating a ‘block list’ of sites with poor performance that you wish to avoid. By visiting the sites in the list, you can further evaluate the quality of a site and determine whether to block list this domain. For more information on Site Domain Reporting and creating custom Site lists see the following pages: Site Domain Reporting, Site List Targeting.
  5. Evaluate Creative Performance/ Update Creative Assets
    If the Exchanges and Site Domains where your ads are being placed appear to be high quality, but your ad is still not receiving the desired amount of user interaction, it could be the appearance or wording of the Creative that is limiting performance. We recommend running A/B tests with different Creatives to test performance as well as trying a variety of different Creative sizes. In the Reporting tab, metrics are readily available by Creative. This information can be used for manual optimization, to remove low performing Creatives and to direct more of the budget towards high performing ones. For example, if a Creative has received 70% of the budget, but only 5% of the clicks, this Creative should be removed from the campaign. See more information about Pontiac Creative reporting here: Creatives Reporting.
    If you would like additional help with your Creatives, Pontiac Intelligence offers Creative services for an additional fee. If you are interested in having your ads created by the Pontiac team, discuss this option with your Account Manager.
  6. Landing Page
    The landing page is an important aspect of driving Conversions. If your ads are performing well on CTR, but aren’t generating Conversions, this could indicate a landing page issue. Traffic is being driven to your site, but once on the page they are not converting. For E-commerce we recommend displaying a specific product in the ad and driving users directly to the page for this specific product.

Overspend with Hard Cap Budgets

Enabling ‘Hard Cap Budgets’ will help the line cap at a specified dollar amount, but is not a guarantee.  It is possible that a Line Item configured with a ‘Hard Cap’ budget will spend more than the allocated budget. This happens because the bidders are placing simultaneous bids on ad slots in order to win impressions, while updates for spend are slightly delayed. This allows the bidders to continue bidding although the hard cap budget may have already been met. By the time the spend for the Line Item is updated, it is possible the Line has already spent more than the allocated budget. This is most typical with Lines that have small budgets and/or open targeting. 

If this is happening for one of your Line Items, there are several steps that you can take to try to combat this overspend and limit delivery. These steps are not guaranteed to restrict the Line to the exact Hard Cap Budget amount, however, they should help to limit spend as well as improve campaign performance. 

  1. Remove Exchanges with Low Performance
    Enter into the Reporting tab and select the Advertiser and Line you wish to evaluate and update the report. Scroll down to the ‘Exchanges’ section. In this section you can evaluate each Publisher through which your ad has been served and the corresponding CTR. Campaign performance can be increased and spend restricted by removing Exchanges with low performance. To remove an exchange open the Line Item Targeting settings and in the ‘Exchanges’ tab select the red ‘minus’ sign next to the Exchange name. The Exchange should move from the right side of the window to the left and appear with a green plus sign next to the name. This indicates that you are no longer buying through this exchange. For information on Pontiac Exchange reporting see here: Exchange Reporting
  2. Add Geographic Targeting/Restrictions
    Geographic targeting is available by Country, Region, DMA, Zip Code or Latitude and Longitude. Restricting the geographic areas where the campaign will serve will limit the number of available impressions and thereby help to limit delivery. By selecting regions or areas most relevant to campaign, this will also help to ensure that you are reaching your target Audience. See more information on Zip Code or Lat/Long Audiences here: Zip Code Audience, Lat Long Audience
    If you would like to keep the geographic targeting relatively open, we recommend visiting the Reporting tab and evaluating the performance of each region or country then removing the lowest performing areas. This will also help to boost campaign performance for your selected KPI. See additional information on Geo Reporting on the following pages:
    Geo Region Reporting, Geo Country Reporting
  3. Add Audience Targeting
    Targeting a specific Audience will limit the available users that can be served your ad and therefore restrict delivery. By targeting across behavioral, contextual or demographic variables you can also limit your viewers to those most likely to be interested in your good or service. Pontiac offers a wide variety of Audience solutions including Remarketing segments, Third-Party Audiences and Onboarded Audience integrations including onboarded CRM data, custom contextual segments and geo-framed Audience segments. See all of our Audience solutions here: Audiences.
  4. Add a Site ‘Allow List’ from Top Performing Sites
    Enter into the Reporting tab and select the Advertiser and Line you wish to evaluate and update the report. Scroll down to the ‘Site Domain’ section. In this section you can evaluate each Site that the ad has been published on and the corresponding CTR. By selecting the highest performing sites and creating a site list, you can serve only on these sites and effectively limit spend as well as improve performance. You could also create a custom site list of websites with contextually relevant content to the campaign or those most likely to be visited by your target Audience. In the ‘Inventory’ tab we also have created several pre-built site lists with high performing domains that are named by content category. For more information on Site Domain Reporting and creating custom Site lists see the following pages: Site Domain Reporting, Site List Targeting.
  5. Add a Viewability Threshold
    In the Line Item Targeting settings there is a feature to enable a Viewability Threshold. If this feature is enabled the platform will determine how likely an impression is to be viewable through pre-bidding technology, and will only bid on ad slots deemed above the threshold. Per IAB guidelines, an ad is considered viewable if 50% of the pixels are in-view for 1 second or more. This will limit available impressions restricting the spend of the Line Item and it could also greatly improve performance as your ads are more likely to be viewed by the user. For more information on the Viewability Threshold see here: Viewability Threshold
  6. Remove Creatives with Low Performance
    In the Reporting tab, metrics are readily available by Creative. This information can be used for manual optimization, to remove low performing Creatives and to direct more of the budget towards high performing ones. For example, if a Creative has received 70% of the budget, but only 5% of the clicks, this Creative should be removed from the campaign. See more information about Pontiac Creative reporting here: Creatives Reporting.