5 Reasons Your Ad Campaign is Underpacing (And What to Do About It)

If you’re a digital marketer or media buyer running programmatic campaigns, you probably spend a good deal of time tracking your spending. You need to put your budget to work: not too quickly, not too slowly, but just the right amount each day to show meaningful results using your allocated spend.

You’re basically the Goldilocks of the ad world.

The same programmatic technology that helps you reach your audience efficiently sometimes needs a little nudge to spend your money as effectively. Here are 5 expert tips for troubleshooting programmatic pacing problems, specifically what to do if your campaign is underpacing.

Your Campaign is Underpacing

Criteria to look at if your campaign has been running for longer than 5 days and is still pacing behind by 50% or more:

1. Targeting

Are all page categories, supply sources, and devices selected? To ensure the most scale and to improve pacing, it is recommended to cast a wider net than narrow down if scale allows.

2. Retargeting

Retargeting is a major reason why campaigns struggle with pacing. Be sure to check the number of fires on the retargeting pixel to ensure it is large enough for the campaign to scale. If there are only 200 to 1,000 sites, consider a) adding the pixel to other pages across the site, b) increasing your expiry time, or c) pausing the campaign until your awareness/prospecting campaign has driven more traffic to the site.

3. Day Parting

If dayparting is in place, the campaign will not spend outside of the specified time window. If your time window is short, the campaign is likely not able to spend the required amount of budget in that time. If this is the case, consider opening up the time frame by a couple hours to allow more spend in the day.

4. Bidding

While CPC and CPE are great bidding types, they do happen to impact the scale of the campaign in some cases. If you’re pacing behind, consider switching to a CPM bid which will allow the campaign to access more inventory, but include either a CPC or CPE goal.

The goal will ensure the campaign is optimizing towards the desired CPC or CPE amount while buying on CPM. This allows your campaign to scale, while still hitting your desired goal.

5. Daily Spend

If none of the above is impacting your campaign try checking the daily spend to see if it’s actually pacing behind. Sometimes if a campaign goes live later in the afternoon, and is not able to spend the required amount on that first day it throws the pacing out of whack.

Or maybe you added budget and you’re seeing that pacing is really behind. If you subtract your total budget from the money spent (typically you include the spend up to the day before your calculations) you’ll get your remaining budget.

Then divide that amount by the days remaining in the flight—typically include 1 extra day to account for the current day. If you do this calculation and the number you get is what the campaign is spending per day, then you’re fine! The campaign is not pacing behind. But if you do the calculation and the campaign is not spending that amount, you’ll need to look into opening up more inventory or increasing your bids.


$1000 budget – $200 spent = $800 remaining spend

With 10 days left in the campaign, you should be spending $80/day

Happy advertising!

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