I'm working in online advertising since 1998 and finally decided to start my own blog.

How I lost almost $500 in a few hours, because of a bidding mistake on a big traffic source.

One would think, that after multiple years of buying traffic, I would know how to prevent stupid mistakes from happening… but I’m far from being perfect so it seems πŸ™‚ Let me tell you what happened to me a while ago and learn from it, that’s what the failures of others are good for!

I was running a campaign on ExoClick, which is one of the largest traffic sources in the world, they sell mostly Adult traffic from 10s of thousands of sites, large and small. The GEO was USA, so one of the most trafficked ones that I could pick. I was pushing a dating offer and already started to see some promising results, I wanted to scale it a bit and get more traffic so I could optimize this beast further.

Since I was bidding low initially to collect some data, the bid was sitting at $0.15 CPM and I wanted to up it by 4 more cents to reach $0.19. So I opened the settings for this campaign, used the mouse to select the β€œ5” at the end and hit the key 9 to replace it. Dunno if I was drinking something the day before or my hands were shaking from some other reason, but instead of selecting just the number 5, I somehow managed to include the number 1 too. So instead of replacing just one number, I replaced two and ended up with a nice bid of $0.9 CPM πŸ™‚ Since I didn’t notice this, I saved the campaign and left it running.

When shit starts to hit the fan, it always comes in batches as we all know … I got a phone call and had to leave the office for a few hours. On top of that, I had a rather large daily budget ($1000) set for this campaign, because I wanted to test how it’s gonna affect the traffic distribution. Long story short, when I returned a few hours later, the daily budget was almost spent and the loss was close to $500. The super high bid opened all the high trafficked spots for me along with plenty of low quality ones that didn’t convert at all. If it was even remotely possible, I would kick myself in the butt, HARD! I hate stupid mistakes like this, whether the loss is small or big.

I felt like a retard, because this wasn’t the first time I did something as stupid as this πŸ˜‰ Pretty much the same happened to me with TrafficFactory, which is another large Adult traffic source, when I was starting with paid traffic. While raising the bid from $0.06 to $0.08 per click, I ended up with $0.80 per click, exactly the same way – damn mouse! The only think that saved me from shooting myself at that time was a daily budget of $100 I had set for that campaign.

The morale of the story?

1. Always use a daily budget! Start with a low one and only increase it, when the results are there and the bad placements have been already blocked!

2. DOUBLE-CHECK the bidding settings after every change you are doing. Actually no, TRIPLE CHECK them!

3. Do not leave a campaign without supervision, after a significant change has been made to it! This is super important when the change affects biding, capping and placements related options that can inflate the available volume.

I swear, if I do this again, I will slap myself πŸ™‚ So how about you guys, anyone else with a similar experience? Post a comment πŸ™‚


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7 comments

  1. Even pros made some very basic mistakes, for me if I lost 500 dollars in one stupid mistake I will take a break from AM for 1 month at least….

    1. Yes, we all make mistakes, and we have to learn from them. You can bet I’m paying more attention to bid changes now πŸ™‚ Always think positive thou, this mistake bought me a ton of data I wouldn’t have otherwise!

  2. ha, been there. i accidently changed the bid for a 20000 keywords set instead of 0.10 to 10$ before leaving for a short vacation. You wouldn’t believe how broad a broad match can be with a 10$ bid.
    That was 6k, lesson learned.

    1. Ouch man, that’s a painful one too πŸ™‚ This reminds me of another fuckup I did with adwords : I forgot about one campaign that I prepared for a project I somehow never finished as I was distracted with something else. So the site didn’t have any monetization in place yet, it was just a plain page with some basic info. Took me almost a month to get back to it, while the campaign was spending money with a $50 per day budget. $1200 wasted … I was very pissed as this was really stupid on my behalf.

  3. hopefully it helped your seo, having visitors at all is not so bad ;-).
    Sometimes you can negotiate with them, we did, and got a good refund.

  4. I once bid 1500 dollars on traffic Vance for a pop. My daily budget was 4k and I hit that in seconds. I was spending 4k per day so I thought it wouldn’t be a problem getting a credit. My rep actually gave me a hard time about it. It wasn’t even my fault per say. They made some chances to their bidding engine and it was buggy. Anyway they reluctantly credited my account. Well about 1 week later it happened again. I immediately caught the mistake and changed it back to .o15. Well it was too late 4 clicks got through at 6k dollars. My rep said it was happening to lots of advertisers and they were tired of crediting these mistakes. Even though there was clearly an error with their interface. I had thousands of keywords so it was quite easy for this too happen. Anyway after pleading for them to credit the 6k for 4 hits. I told them to fuck off and found another traffic source. I was rocking at the time, but it still pissed me off to no end

    1. Wow man, now this is extremely lame from them. Anyone with at least 1 brain cell must understand that nobody could ever bid that high on purpose. They should have systems in place, preventing this from happening proactively and not refusing to credit accounts when something like that happens … Thanks for sharing your story.

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