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Budget Pacing and How to Monitor Yours

As a Digital Marketing agency (and a bloody good one), we manage client budgets across multiple platforms, but it’s safe to say the biggest channels we utilise are Meta and Google Ads.

With multiple clients, multiple platforms, and multiple campaigns/ad sets/ads comes a concern that many agencies find themselves in—budget pacing.

Recently, we found a system that works for our agency – incredibly well – for pacing client budgets, and we wanted to delve into what we’ve found, what we built ourselves and how we tackle budget pacing as a digital marketing agency using software available to us.

So, let’s start…

What is budget pacing?

Budget pacing ensures a campaign’s budget is spent evenly and effectively over a specified period – for the purposes of this blog post, we’ll reference ‘monthly’.

The goal is to avoid exhausting the budget too early or underspending and missing out on potential opportunities. By pacing a budget, agencies can maintain a consistent presence on a platform, target the respective demographic, and achieve better results within their budget constraints.

Many ad platforms offer this (in theory). This helps advertisers maintain a steady flow of impressions or clicks without overspending or running out of budget before the campaign ends.

example of a campaign budget from Meta Ads

So, you don’t need anything else, right? Set your campaign up and you’re good to go. Well, if that was all it was then this blog post wouldn’t exist.

Let’s take a look at budget pacing reports…

What is a budget pacing report?

A budget pacing report is a document or dashboard that tracks the advertising spend and total budget, typically in real-time or on a daily basis.

It compares the planned or expected spend (based on the total budget and the campaign duration) with the actual spend to date.

The report helps agencies monitor whether they are on track to fully utilise their budget by the end of the campaign without overspending or underspending.

Why do I need a Budget Pacing Report instead of just relying on the Ads software to do it for me?

This is a great question. If you’re a single business looking after one Meta Ads account and/or one Google Ads account, you might not need budget pacing. You can keep an eye on your spend within the ads platforms, maintain pace, and spend perfectly well.

However, if you’re an agency and you have multiple clients across multiple platforms with varying budgets – keeping an eye on budgets and spend is time-consuming, manual, and prone to human error.

For example: using our Google MCC account we can see a list of our clients; their daily budget, spend etc, but we don’t have visibility on their monthly budget. It means utilising multiple screens.

Screenshot below of an MCC account visibility:

Screenshot of an MCC account visibility

Not to mention these little nuggets:

  • Google can spend up to 200% of your budget on any given day, if they deem it suitable to do so. They won’t spend over your monthly budget – but this is already becoming complicated.
  • Just Google ‘Meta overspend budget’, and you’ll find articles from various agencies and brands claiming Meta has overspent on allocated budget. And, like Google, they’ve admitted they will overspend when they deem it beneficial for a campaign.

Remember, if you’re relying on an Ads company, you’re RELYING on them. Their job is to sell you advertising – and they’re great at it. They’re very good at getting your money off you – so good, you might not even notice it. Then throw in multiple clients and multiple platforms, and you’ve got yourself a melting pot of budget issues.

So, how do you create a budget pacing report? This is where it gets complicated. We’ll address the two biggies…

How do I budget pace Google Ads?

If you’re only using Google Ads for your advertising needs (unlikely) you can integrate your Google Ads with a dashboard software like Google Data Studio. Build yourself a table with some nice-looking graphs that include the following:

How do I budget pace Meta Ads?

This is where it gets more complicated and you can’t just rely on the connection between Google’s platforms. Software services like Supermetrics offer API integration and connection between platforms like Google Sheets/Meta/Google Search Console, and you can use them to build a decent budget pacing report.

Supermetrics is expensive, and you might not be in a position to invest in such a comprehensive resource. So, we’ll show you what we built, utilising cheaper software to build our budget pacing report that includes Google Ads and Meta Ads platforms.

How We Built an Automated Budget Pacing Report

We supply our client reporting dashboard through the popular Agency Analytics – it’s reliable, flexible, and provides the clients with the data they want to see. But, we wanted to utilise it’s analytics capabilities and existing integrations with Google Ads and Meta Ads platforms to collect data into our own custom dashboard for the purposes of budget pacing.

Agency Analytics offers a basic version of this. See more here. But their report wasn’t quite what we needed. It provided the basic data we needed, but a PPC specialist managing multiple clients and platforms and adjusting budgets daily would still need to do some calculations for daily spend.

We wanted a snapshot of how we are tracking through the month and what the budget should be so we can adjust accordingly in one simple, clear dashboard.

Agency Analytics advised they don’t currently have a dashboard process as complex as what we were after. So, we decided to build our own, utilising their functionality. And we did this with Google Sheets.

Utilising the information collected within Agency Analytics, we fed that data into a Google Sheet and generated a table that looks like this:

example of a budget pacing spreadsheet

It automatically refreshes as per our requirement – daily/weekly/monthly. So, a team member from our agency can access the link and see how all of our clients are tracking in terms of budget.

This means that an AM can log in and check their clients are on target. It also means the Ads Team can stay on track and assess budgets on one page, reducing resources and time.

The data table is in real-time so that we can adjust the allocated budgets. For example, if a client wants to increase their spend, we adjust the cell on the sheet, and it will update the data for us, advising how much we need to increase their daily spend to stay on target.

Amazing!

What about daily budget pacing?

This process works on a granular level – including daily budget pacing. We can see how much the client has to spend on a daily basis and adjust according to their monthly budget.

Note: This screenshot contains example data

If a client advises they want to spend $X amount a day as their budget instead of monthly, you can reverse engineer and tinker with the sheet, but you’d be better served talking to your client about a monthly budget option instead.

Turn Your Budget Pacing Report into a Dashboard with Graphs

With the data in your Google Sheet, you can integrate Google Data Studio and create a fancy-looking dashboard that provides visuals on client performance in real-time.

We’re still working on this, so come back. We’ll update our blog when we have a GDS dashboard for budget pacing up and running.

Sounds great, or too complicated? If you think you need a little help with your Google Ads, get in touch with our digital marketing experts are happy to help. And why not sign up for a complimentary 45-minute strategy session – obligation-free?

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