Major Takeaways from Years of Performance Marketing Account Audits

We’ve been doing performance marketing account audits for prospective new JDM clients since our founding in 2017. We’re talking hundreds of audits across verticals and a range of company sizes.

Regardless of the type or size of company we’re auditing, there are some issues we find cropping up over and over in paid accounts. I’ll detail those issues, along with a bit about our approach, in this post.

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Our auditing approach

The first thing to do when presented with a new account is check settings, structure, and targeting coverage. Implementing best practices across these areas ensures the account is set up for success for testing, expansion, and optimization efforts.

During the account review process, we usually ask ourselves questions such as: 

  • Are Search Partner and network expansion settings disabled to minimize wasted spend?
  • Does the campaign structuring account for goals, budget, volume, and performance?
  • Is there sufficient keyword or audience targeting coverage for key terms and ICPs?

More often than not, there are some “no” answers to address.

Common channel-mix audit findings

Using a multi-channel approach can benefit businesses by offering additional exposure, ad types, and optimization levers. However, if the approach is not implemented effectively, a lot of potential value can be lost.

Many businesses tend to allocate their entire budget at the bottom of the funnel, without investing enough in strategic planning to nurture users through their buying journey. 

If social campaigns are struggling to convert efficiently, it’s typically an indication that the account is not doing enough to educate, inform, and provide personalized solutions to address cold audiences’ pain points. 

In such cases, we map out a full-funnel strategy, designed to warm up cold audiences, bolster retargeting audiences, and drive action from users who are ready to buy.

Common general account audit findings

When digging into the campaign level on paid channels, we find some extremely common issues for brands to address.

1. Ineffective campaign structures

Campaigns should be organized with consideration to volume, goal, competition, performance, audience, and intent to ensure optimal budget allocation, effective bidding strategies, relevant messaging, and testing opportunities. This is frequently not the case with new brands we encounter.


2. Wasted spend on partner networks or targeting expansion

When you’re setting up a new advertising campaign, it is not uncommon to overlook certain settings such as search partners, network expansion, and targeting expansion. 

These settings are often enabled by default to promote their use, but the data collected from them can be inefficient and yield suboptimal results. Turning them off by default is best to prevent bleeding cash.


3. Marketers aren’t using the controls they still have

As AI technology becomes more prevalent across platforms, the lack of advertising control is becoming a growing concern. 

To address this, it is crucial to implement directional negative keywords and strategic audience segmentation. By incorporating negative keywords, you can strategically direct the flow of traffic, minimize keyword overlap, and optimize your results in a more granular way. 

Additionally, carefully segmenting your audiences in social media campaigns allows for tailored messaging and more impactful results.

4. Limited or non-existent testing

It is crucial to conduct consistent testing to avoid self-sabotage. It is equally essential to measure and iterate based on test results. One common mistake is running only one ad per ad group while relying on Google to optimize headline and description combinations, which may not be the best strategy. 

Instead, we recommend running multiple RSAs to test different copy themes, keyword insertions, landing pages, or pinned assets. To effectively measure historical data, we suggest going against Google's advice of updating ads and rolling out new variations. 

Refreshing creative content through consistent tests is especially important in social campaigns to combat stale performance caused by fatigued ad creative.

Common Google and Microsoft audit findings

At the Google and Microsoft Ads account level, our most frequent adjustments include: 

  • Implementing consistent naming conventions for ease of reference and analysis
  • Reviewing account-level negative keywords to avoid unintentional conflicts
  • Turning off auto-apply recommendation settings
  • Disabling automatic assets
  • Setting up a tracking template and ensuring that lower-level templates do not overwrite it
  • Utilizing all available assets/extensions 
  • Configuring enhanced online & offline conversion tracking
  • Adding brand exclusion lists to Performance Max campaigns to prevent overlap

Common Facebook and LinkedIn audit findings

At the Facebook and LinkedIn Ads account level, our most frequent adjustments include:

  • Implementing consistent naming conventions for ease of reference and analysis
  • Standardizing tracking parameters
  • Using Business Manager to host all account aspects
  • Configuring online and offline conversion tracking
  • Optimizing the brand’s Facebook page
  • Setting up retargeting audiences 

Common tracking and measurement audit findings

Efficient tracking and measurement are critical for the success of any marketing campaign. In today's digital landscape, the ability of machine learning algorithms to optimize campaigns is crucial. If the measurement is not optimal, important signals can be missed, leading to poor campaign performance. 

As keyword targeting has shifted towards being more intent-based, it's essential to provide the platform with as many conversion indicators as possible to enhance its performance. 

With the upcoming phasing out of cookies, platforms will increasingly rely on first-party and server-side data to optimize campaigns.

That said, what we’re often finding is that brands have many more signals at their disposal than they’re using to feed their advertising platforms. They also generally have work to do to make sure they’re optimizing their owned properties to collect more first-party data to use in their campaigns. This is becoming a bigger area of focus in our audits given the upcoming measurement shift.


This is a partial list of frequent issues we encounter, but it includes the pitfalls that can do the most damage to performance. Do yourself a favor and check your accounts to make sure you’re not making the same mistakes. 

If you’d like an expert set of eyes on your campaigns, the JDM team is at your service - just send a request, and we’ll get to work.

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