We Spent $2 Million in Digital Ads, Here’s What We Learned (2021)


From January 2021 to June 2021, we have spent a combined total of over $2 Million in digital ads for clients across a variety of channels, and in a plethora of different industries. The digital ad campaign goals of each client range from e-commerce purchases to in-bound lead campaigns. Each client’s spend differed drastically, with the lowest spender spending around $500 per month in digital ads, while the largest spender was spending around $175,000 per month in digital ads.

I know that our readers are interested in finding out what worked, what didn’t, and how running digital ads could affect their businesses. So, without further delay, here are the things we learned from spending $2 Million in Digital Ads in the first 6 months of 2021.

Ad Creative & Copy Must Be Understandable Immediately

When it comes to running digital ads on social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, LinkedIn, Pinterest, or Snapchat, the importance of great ad creative and ad copy are paramount to keeping the return on ad spend (ROAS) and Click Through Rate (CTR) high and the cost per conversion low. What you’re saying or depicting in your ads must connect to the users in a way that is unique, compelling, and direct. The biggest mistake we’ve seen people make is getting “too creative” or “too abstract” with the ad creative and copy, leaving a new user unable to understand what you’re selling or offering in the ad within the first 2 or 3 seconds. We’ve seen people create some really cool ads that really set the WOW factor, but after looking at the creative and copy, we were left scratching our heads as to what this ad was even trying to sell. Keeping the message direct is of great importance when coming up with great ad creatives and copy.

Always Have a Backup Plan

Regardless of your advertising budget, you need to have a Plan A, a Plan B, a Plan C, and sometimes even a Plan D. Should a certain tactic fail or underperform, you’ll need to revert to another plan. You need to make sure that your backup plans are created in advance. It doesn’t help to have a campaign that is spending $1,000 per day underperform, and then spend a week figuring out another plan of attack. Have your plans be laid out beforehand, and once Plan A fails and your backup plan has been implemented within your campaigns, create a new backup plan to replace the Plan A that didn’t work, should the next 3 plans also not work. Preparedness is an underestimated element that has allowed us to thrive in situations where everyone else fails.


Always Be Testing & Experimenting with Smaller Budgets

You need to constantly be testing and experimenting with small percentages of your budget to tap into new digital ad gold. Whether you’re testing new audiences or new ads, you should be micro-testing to see if you strike something that works on a small scale. Should you see good results with small experiments, start to dial up the spend until it cannot hit those desired results. Once you’ve started to dial an experiment up, you should create a new test experiment with a smaller budget to replace the last one. One thing that is for certain in the digital ads world, is that what worked today will more than likely not work a few months from now. You need to be testing consistently in order to prevent scrambling with someone else’s money when a certain campaign, audience, or ad decides it’s not going to work any longer.


There is a Minimum & Maximum Buy-In for Ads

We get asked this question all the time: “Is there a minimum buy-in for ads?”, and the answer is yes. There is also a maximum buy-in for ads. Both of these numbers are channel-based and are dependent upon a variety of factors, including your line of business, your targets, your location, and the nature of your conversion actions. If you have a new ad account on Facebook, and you are trying to spend $10,000 per month in ads, you are going to have a very bad month. You can’t just buy into huge ad spends on Facebook, you need to phase your way in by starting smaller and gradually increasing your ad spend. With each channel (Google, TikTok, etc) this will change slightly. A good way to find out what your minimum or maximum spend is to run some research. As a ballpark figure, if you’re not spending at least $10 per day on digital ads, you have almost zero chance of success. At the same token, there is also a maximum audience limit on a channel basis. For example, you may only have 2,000,000 people in your audience on a specific channel, and with a certain CPM, your daily spend of $2,000 per day may be too much, and you’ll actually be in a situation where you could lose money by spending more. This is why we highly recommend running extensive research or hiring a professional.


Research & Provide Estimated Results to Clients That are Worse Than Expected

Clients always ask us “what can we expect in results” from digital campaigns. The answer is going to be anywhere between 50% and 700% return on your spend, depending on strategy, the ad agency’s competence, and the nature of your business. For example, if you are selling toothbrushes online that sell for $5, and the average cost per purchase in the market for a similar item is $20 per purchase, you’re not going to like your results. Typically, we let clients know beforehand that this type of product is not great to advertise, due to this cost. However, some products and services are very much worthy of a $20 cost in a dental product industry and can produce results that are up to 1000% return on spend. Before we begin working with a client, we like to run research that will provide an estimated range as to what the client can expect in return for their ad spend dollars, and of that range, we provide them with the lower (less favorable) number. One thing agencies fail to realize is that as you dial up the spend drastically within an ad campaign, the return number WILL drop to some degree. As an agency, we always like to out-perform the estimates rather than come in on day one with an unrealistic expectation of what they should expect, and then underperform with the results.


Use Automation, but Never Auto-Pilot Your Campaigns

Many advertising channels have automation tools, which are phenomenal when it comes to controlling an ad campaign. However, we want to be direct when we say that you should never fully rely on the automation of campaign settings or budgets. We definitely see a lot of auto-piloting of campaigns, where an agency doesn’t check on campaign performance for days or weeks at a time, resulting in an unmonitored campaign that will more than likely end up underperforming. Automation is a great tool, but the human brain is always a better tool. Always be checking on your campaigns, and never auto-pilot your campaigns.


Always Be Ready to Change

We can’t stress this point enough: never fall in love with a specific ad channel. We love Facebook, but if Facebook doesn’t work for a specific client, we’re moving to another channel (Google, etc). We don’t care about which channel someone likes more, we only care about which channels can give us our desired result. If Snapchat isn’t providing the results we need, we’ll move our ads to TikTok. We’re always ready to change and adapt based on the results. Don’t get held up on one channel because another business, client, or friend had great results there. You have to take a step back and disassociate yourself from the channel, and take the necessary steps that will get you to your desired end result, which are leads or online sales. Always be ready to change channels, change strategies, change ads, and change your thinking. Digital advertising can destroy you just as fast as it can take your business to the highest peaks imaginable. Be ready for anything.


Stay On Top of Trends and Channel Insights

Digital ad channels can change sometimes on a daily basis. What worked today may not work tomorrow, and there’s nothing any of us can do about it. These channels roll out new features, update their algos, and phase out certain elements that were key to your success, and they’ll do this without even telling you. This is why you need to make it a point to stay informed about what is happening with each channel you are advertising on. The faster you know about channel changes, the quicker you’ll adapt, and the higher you’ll rise above the competition. If you’re advertising digitally, you need to be on top of what is happening. There is no excuse for not making the effort to gain knowledge when it is so easy to access.


Results We’ve Received From Spending $2 Million in Digital Ads

So, what kind of results have we brought in for clients? Well, we’ve brought in a total average of 290% return on spend within e-commerce businesses, and an average cost of about $32/lead across lead-generation businesses. Each industry and goal is different, but we’ve seen highs up to over 1000% return on adspend, and lead costs of around $7/lead in lead-gen businesses. By implementing our strategies and tactics within our client’s digital ad campaigns, we have been able to drive business to our clients at a rate that exceeds expectations.



In summary, running digital ads can take businesses to heights they could have never imagined, if done correctly. Because each and every business, market, product, ad channel, and ad agency is different, results can vary drastically. Spending $2 million in digital ads in 6 months has helped us refine our tactics, our thinking, and our process. As one of the top Advertising Agencies in West Palm Beach, we conduct the research and do the planning to ensure that our client’s advertising campaigns are always performing and exceeding expectations.




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