It's All in the Details: How Platform Settings Can Make or Break Your Ads‍

In the world of digital advertising, settings matter. Discover the settings you should turn off to ensure your marketing budget is well spent.

October 12, 2023

It's All in the Details: How Platform Settings Can Make or Break Your Ads

This month we wanted to dive into some of our favourite settings to turn off across different platforms. 

Ad platforms love getting their users to place as much trust in them as possible. They want you to allow them to take the reins and make changes to your ads and the delivery of them. They often promise more impressions, higher click-through rates, expanded audiences, and less overall management from you. More often than not the way they try to achieve this is through 3rd party ad placements, altering your ads, and fundamental targeting changes. When enabled, some settings can negatively impact your campaign results, give you vastly different ads,  and have them appear in places you didn’t expect.

Here is a list of the settings across the main platforms we believe everyone should be aware of and the reason we try to avoid them.

Google Ads: 

  • Auto Apply Recommendations - This is the priority setting to check as it can make fundamental changes to your keyword targeting & automatically create ads. Head to the Recommendations tab to find the Auto-apply button. Within this section, there are a variety of settings you may wish to turn off. By default we won’t allow Google to create any assets, or make any targeting changes.

  • Search & Display Partners - Found in your campaign settings & also recommendations, this is another setting to be cautious of. While Google promises more delivery, the quality of these placements is very low & is not likely to lead to any conversions.

  • Sensitive Content - This is only relevant for Display ads. Put simply, it is to ensure your ads don’t show on any website that is associated with a variety of different topics you can opt out of. You can find this in the ‘Content suitability’ section of the ‘Setup’ section under ‘Tools and Settings’ in Google Ads top navigation menu (its right at the bottom of the drop down).

  • Auto-Generated Video - A niche setting if you’re running responsive display ads. Under the additional formats section during ad creation, you can see Google wanting to take a few liberties in turning your static ads into video.

  • App Placement - More of an optimisation but something important to consider is allowing your ads to appear on apps. The mobile games category can suck up your budget with some of the lowest-tier placements available. While most apps are a waste of time, there are situations it can make sense to run a few carefully selected categories. We recommend utilising placement exclusion lists to filter out unwanted apps (go to ‘Tools and Settings’, find the ‘Share Library Column’ and ‘Placement exclusion lists’ is there). As always, test!

Meta (Facebook & Instagram)
The settings to keep an eye out for on Meta are those that can change the appearance of your ads & where they show.

  • Advantage+ Placements - while initially, it may appear beneficial to appear across as many different placements as possible, there are numerous placements that have different aspect ratio requirements. There are some we recommend removing altogether such as; apps and sites, search results, and Facebook right column. Toggle this checkmark off & use Manual Placements in the Ad Sets section.
  • Advantage+ Creative - Meta promotes this as a way to improve your click-through rate. For brands that have strict brand guidelines and spend time carefully crafting their ads you’ll want to pay close attention to this. For us, ensuring music is turned off is the most important. Toggle this checkmark off in the Ad section - it may say ‘Not Optimised’ but you have greater control.

  • Optimise Text Per Person - Another small setting that allows for your primary text, headlines, and description to be swapped around. This can lead to ads that don’t make sense if your messaging has an order to follow across these. We recommend turning this from ‘Enabled’ to ‘Disabled’.

  • Video thumbnails - This is just a basic one that can be forgotten about. Meta will automatically select a still from your videos, which can result in some unflattering thumbnails. Use curated manual thumbnails when you can!


  • Placements - we would recommend excluding Pangle. It’s likely you will see what appear to be good click-through rates from this app but the traffic quality is non-existent & is a waste of your budget.

  • Targeting - Currently you can only deliver ads nationwide in New Zealand. We recommend ensuring you have some form of interest and age targeting and staying away from automatic targeting to try and combat this.

  • ‘Only show as ad’ - A niche scenario is when you are sparking (boosting) some organic content that already exists on your TikTok page. Toggling this is the difference between having the same video appear multiple times on your profile page or just the once.

Analytics - GA4

  •  Data retention - One of the downsides of GA4 is its much shorter data storage in comparison to universal analytics. By default properties will be set to 2 months. Under admin > data settings this can be changed so that you will be able to gather meaningful insights over a longer time period (14 months).

  • Google signals data collection - Enabling this will allow greater data collection of users who are signed into Google so that you can target Google’s users across devices. It helps you measure the total number of users – rather than devices.

Platforms can be sneaky with how they promise greater results by spending your budget on low quality placements, changing how your ads appear, or deliver.

By sharing this information with you, we hope you can understand how your marketing budget is being spent and make sure you’re getting the best bang for your buck!

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