Paid Social Strategy and Structuring Campaigns

25 August, 2020


Josh Duggan

Josh Duggan

Working in paid media for over 8 years. Specialises in Google Shopping and paid social. Spoken at various eCommerce events around the world about paid media and Google Shopping.

Effective structuring of paid social campaigns is vital if you want to really achieve significant goals. This guide explains how to build a paid social strategy.

The type of social campaigns you set up and test will be determined by your objectives, but the structure you follow is essential to getting the most value from your social campaigns. For the purpose of this blog, we will focus on Facebook & Instagram, but the same logic applies to both LinkedIn and Twitter too.

Across Facebook, when you set up your campaign you will find the below screen. Here you want to consider the following:

  • Naming convention

  • Bidding type (Likely to be auction) unless you are running a brand campaign where you want to run a reach and frequency campaign.

  • Campaign Objective (once this is set, you are unable to go back and change this)

  • A/B test - Here you can split test creative, placement, audience and delivery optimisation at an ad set level. This will ensure the traffic is split evenly between your chosen ad sets rather than letting the Facebook platform distribute as it sees fit. The latter is perfectly fine unless you want to run a specific test.

  • Finally ‘campaign optimisation’ - in our opinion, in most cases you will want this switched on. Here Facebook will distribute your budget across your ad sets based on performance.


Before you jump in and start building campaigns, consider the following;

  • You will want to separate your campaigns by low, medium and high funnel audiences as these will have different objectives.

  • You can apply a campaign objective then at the ad set level, you can choose a specific conversion event i.e. purchase/ add to cart. Or, if you choose traffic as your campaign objective, you could choose ‘landing page views’ at the ad set level.

Diagram 2

For larger retailers looking to be more sophisticated with measurement and attribution, you can drill down remarketing much further.

One option is to segment retargeting by users who visited the site via a Facebook paid advert (prospecting ads) or by other channels. If you are UTM tagging your ads (to track in GA), you can overlay these URLs into one set of remarketing campaigns. The other set of campaigns would exclude the UTM which is from Facebook ads.

This then allows you to measure the remarketing performance for users who clicked on prospecting ads and later bought through remarketing. This is one method to bridge the gap where remarketing will often track more sales where cold users are less likely to buy with remarketing driving the purchases.

Another tactic within remarketing is to create 2x the campaign variations (this can include the above breakdowns) and to have one group which targets remarketed users who have never bought and one group which retargets past customers. You may want to measure remarketing to site visitors and ad engagers who have never purchased differently to existing customers. This is still essentially new customer acquisition - you are simply reaching an audience who has engaged with the brand before.

You then have a group of remarketing campaigns which target existing customers. With these campaigns, you may choose to use a more aggressive attribution model e.g. 1 day click of GA reporting. Existing customers will likely be engaging with the brand through other channels, branded PPC, email, etc. and by reducing the window of conversion, it increases the likelihood your Facebook ad drove an incremental sale.

  • This structure will then determine your campaign naming convention

    • New Season Sale - Prospecting - Upper Funnel

    • New Season Sale - Look-alikes - Middle Funnel

    • New Season Sale - Remarketing - Lower Funnel

  • Then at the ad set level, you can start to build out a number of audiences, as per the example below.

Diagram 3
  • You may also want to start building out ad sets based on platform, so you can have platform specific creatives, which is best practice.

Diagram 4

At the ad set level you will also need to consider the following;

  • Exclude current site visitors and purchases from prospecting and Look-a-likes campaigns, as returning visitors will be picked up in the remarketing campaigns.

  • In most cases, you will want to set your desired location as ‘living in’ rather than ‘recently in’ or ‘travelling in’.

  • Set your languages. We would recommend for UK targeting, you choose English (All)

  • Choose your placements. This will partly be decided by your ad set structure, i.e. you may have an ad set for Instagram and one for Facebook. You will also want to factor in performance per placement and how your ads will be displayed by placement. The most common is news feed and stories in comparison to the right column, for example due to performance results. If you have a small budget, you may want to stick with news feed and stories, whereas if you have a larger budget and you are starting out on Facebook, you may want to gather data across all to understand what works for you.

Next, you will want to consider creatives, and we would recommend choosing formats which are best suited to the campaign strategy and the platform you will be advertising on. Here is a quick guide on what creatives work best for each campaign strategy.

Diagram 5

Finally test, test, test! Test different audiences, creative formats and creative images to understand what works best for your audience.