Pre-Live Checklist – What To Do Before Launching a Campaign

To me, there’s almost nothing worse than getting pumped about a campaign, launching it, and checking stats after an hour to see you’ve burned $100 and gotten 0 leads. You freak out and login to your accounts and find out you’ve made a stupid mistake with your traffic source or landing page. I’m going to map out some of those most common stupid mistakes in campaign setup, and it’d be wise for you to build a checklist out of it that you run through right before you’re about to set a campaign live.

1. Test the Entire Conversion Path

This means login to every traffic network you’re running, copy the destination URL in the ad, paste it into your browser and press enter. First, make sure the click goes through to your landing page (or the offer). Login to your tracker or the affiliate network and make sure the click was registered. Then click to the offer and make sure that click registered. Complete the lead and make sure the conversion pixel fired on your tracker and in the network. If the conversion didn’t fire in the network, it may have been because they blocked your IP from leads – your affiliate manager will still be able to tell you if a lead went through.

2. Check, Double-check, Triple-check Your Daily Budget

Adding an extra 0 on to your daily budget can be extremely painful – this has happened to me multiple times. A $100 test budget turns into $1,000. Always login to your traffic source and be paranoid with checking your daily budgets. In some traffic networks you can set multiple budgets on the Line Item, Campaign, & Ad Group/Creative. For test budgets, set the overall lifetime budget to the same as your campaign daily budget, and if you’re running only 1 ad group set that budget as well. It’s redundant, but you want to be as sure as possible that you don’t blow your budget.

3. Check Campaign Geo-Targeting

Make sure your campaign is geo-targeted properly. Easy way to burn money right there, especially if you’re running the same campaign over multiple geos. I actually had this happen with a dating campaign last week…I copied a US campaign over to AU and forgot to change the geotargeting. Luckily I remembered before the daypart set the campaign live, but I should have double-checked right after I finished copying the campaign.

4. Check All Rotation Variations

Are you split testing multiple landing pages or offers? If so, take Check #1 and repeat it for every variation. Copy/paste your destination URL into your browser 10 times to ensure that all of the pages are rotating in properly and that they all click through.

5. Check Your Bids

Like with adding an extra 0 onto a budget, you can accidentally set a $0.10 bid to $1.00, leading to devastating consequences. Go in and make sure all of your CPM/CPC bids are accurate.

6. Re-read Your Copy

Read all of your ads and landing page content. Make sure there are no typos or glaring errors that would detract a user from trusting your site.

7. Browser Check Your Code (Dinosaur Compatible)

Make sure your landing page works in ALL browsers. We techies often use the latest version of Chrome or Firefox, forgetting that 90% of the people in our 45+ mature dating campaign use IE7. I have every browser downloaded and self-test in them, and then use NetRenderer to check older versions of IE (the most important thing). IE needs to crawl into a hole and bleed out, for real.

8. Make Sure Your Cloaker Works

If you’re using a cloaker, make sure it’s working properly. Visit your landing page URL without going through your tracking link and make sure it redirects to the cloaked URL. If you’re using a custom cloaker, hardcode your IP into the blacklist and run through your tracking link – make sure you’re redirected. I’ve accidentally cloaked all of my real visitors before – doh.

9. Check Frequency Capping

More typically used with CPM/CPV campaigns, double check what your frequency cap is and that it’s set in the first place. If you don’t have frequency capping enabled, you’ll completely burn your CPMs on the same visitors that aren’t clicking your ads. Typically I’ll use a 1/12hr or 1/24hr frequency cap.

Going through the above list before every campaign launch should be good validation that the campaign is in fact ready to go live. If there are any checks that I’ve missed, please leave them as a comment so I can update the post!


  1. July 22, 2013

    Epic post Paul. Bookmarked and will definitely reference this before launching my next campaign! Cheers.

  2. July 22, 2013

    Right on!

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