Budget Optimizer

MarinOne's Budget Optimizer is a rules-based engine that automates hitting your spend targets by adjusting campaign daily budgets.

Budget Optimizer works in the same way MarinOne Bidding does, meaning it's housed in Strategies, has campaigns mapped to it, and allows you to work to hit a target. Unlike with MarinOne Bidding, however, Budget Optimizer works toward hitting a budgetary goal, not a performance goal and will not adjust your bids. 


What Is It? 

Budget Optimizer maximizes the impact of every marketing dollar by ensuring optimal budget allocation and pacing across campaigns and publishers.

Advanced machine learning understands and adjusts your spend according to the goals and rules you specify. Budget Optimizer works in combination with publisher bidding to take full advantage of auction-time signals.

Budget Optimizer ties in closely with our budget Pace tool, allowing you to use our forecasting to visualize spend as your primary metric; then Budget Optimizer continuously monitors your spend and makes updates to ensure you hit your targets. 

The Challenge 

Every marketer is faced with a few fundamental questions:

  • How much money should I be investing?
  • Where should I invest it?
  • What will I get in return?
  • Am I on target to hit my goals?

These are the questions that MarinOne Budget Optimizer is built to answer. 

Key Benefits 

  • Determine the level of investment required to hit your business goals
  • Understand the trade-offs between volume and efficiency
  • Identify the best use of every incremental dollar of advertising spend
  • Make decisions across marketing channels, not within publisher siloes
  • Maximize the return on your marketing investment

Important Notes 

While Budget Optimizer lives in our Strategies, similar to MarinOne Bidding, it does not optimize toward a performance goal (i.e. CPA or ROAS). Additionally, because a campaign can only live in a single Strategy, you will need to weigh whether spend or performance is more important for your needs. 

If you decide that performance is more important for your business needs, we recommend brushing up on MarinOne Bidding

If you decide that maintaining a monthly spend is more important for your business needs, we've got you covered here.

How To 

Creating Your Strategy 

  1. The first step, as always, is to log into MarinOne. 
  2. From there, navigate to Optimization in the bottom-left. 
  3. To create a new Budget Optimizer Strategy, click the + ('plus sign' button) and select Pace to Spend Target.
  4. Once you've selected the type of targeting you wish to use, you'll give your Strategy a Name and input a Spend Target. 
    The Cycle field is currently restricted to Monthly only. This will be expanded in the future to support different durations. 
    When all of your initial settings are in place, click Create
  5. From here, you'll be taken to the Side Panel to map your campaigns, assign rules, adjust your targets, traffic your bids, and launch your Strategy. You can also double-click on your Strategy from the grid at any time to find these same settings. 
  6. The top section under the Settings tab is where you'll adjust your spend target. If your spend target changes from month to month, you'll indicate that here. Simply make your updates and then click Save
  7. Below that, still under the Settings tab, is where you'll find the Traffic to Publisher section. Click the Edit button ('pencil' icon) to make changes to this section. 
    When you're ready to set your Strategy to Preview mode or Traffic mode (to enable your Strategy), you'll do so from here. Simply hit Save when you're ready to keep your changes.
  8. The last section, under the Settings tab, allows you to set your Rules. Rules allow you to layer on additional controls over the decisions our algorithm makes, allowing you to specify, for example, a Campaign Daily Budget Cap (which specifies your budget per campaign, per day) and additional controls. 
    Simply click the Edit button ('pencil' icon), select Add, choose the rule that interests you, and specify any relevant constraints for that rule. Click Save when you're finished. 
    If you choose to set rules for your Strategy, this will override any default rule settings. 
  9. Finally, head on over to the Campaigns tab to choose which campaigns you'd like to have their budget managed using our Budget Optimizer tool. Select the check-box next to your campaigns, click the Edit button ('pencil' icon), select Map To Strategy, and select your new Budget Optimizer Strategy from the drop-down. 
    You can also map campaigns to a Strategy using a bulk upload. The choice is up to you!
  10. From this point on, you'll want to treat your Budget Optimizer Strategy the same way you would treat any other Strategy in MarinOne: set it to Preview, monitor changes, traffic your Strategy, then monitor the results. That's all there is to it!
    Once your Budget Optimizer Strategy is live, our budget management engine will begin running daily, first thing in the morning, by adjusting campaign daily budgets up or down in order to hit your spend goal. 

Using Budget Optimizer Pacing Dashboards 

Note: If you do not currently have Budget Optimizer dashboards enabled in your MarinOne Client account, please reach out to a platform representative.

  1. The first step, as always, is to log into MarinOne. 
  2. From there, navigate to Optimization in the bottom-left. 
  3. Next, select Dashboard in the top navigation. 
  4. Here, you will see cards for each Strategy using Budget Optimizer. Each card includes details such as:
    1. Actual spend
    2. % of spend target used
    3. Number of days remaining in the period 
    4. Whether your Straregy is on target/over pacing/under pacing, along with color coding. We'll outline the specific color coding shortly. 
    5. Spend target
    6. Projected spend
    7. The spend difference between the spend target and the actual spend
    8. Projected metrics, such as revenue, rev/cost, clicks, or cost/click.
    9. Comparison details for relevant metrics for yesterday vs. the prior week and period to date vs. prior period.
      The "prior period" aligns with the Cycle field that's established when your Strategy is created. For example, if the cycle is monthly, the period to date vs. prior period will compare Month to Date data to the same period in the prior month (for example, November 1 - 18 compared to December 1 - 18).
  5. Each card will contain color coding with a stop light system (green/yellow/red) to give you at-a-glance details about how a Strategy is trending compared to its spend target. This will help you quickly identify what's pacing ahead, behind, or on track. We'll outline how this is defined and the relevant color coding below. 
    1. On target (dark green): Spend is between -5% and 5% of its target
    2. On target (light green): Spend is between -15% and 15% of its target
    3. Under Pacing/Over Pacing (yellow): Spend is between -15% and -25% under target or between 15% and 25% over target
    4. Under Pacing/Over Pacing (orange): Spend is between -25% and -35% under target or between 25% and 35% over target 
    5. Significantly Over Pacing /Significantly Under Pacing Pacing (red): Spend is more than 35% over or -35 under target
  1. Within any individual card, the darker color (dark green/red/orange/yellow) will indicate the spend-to-date, while the lighter color will indicate the forecasted spend. The gray section will show your overall spend target. 
  2. At the top of the page, if you click the Sort button, you can choose from one of three options:
    1. Sort by Yesterday's Spend Descending 
    2. Sort by Projected Spend Descending
    3. Sort by Percentage Difference Descending
  3. From there, you can click into the name of any Strategy to see additional details related to this Strategy or make updates to its targeting.


What channels are supported? 

Budget Optimizer currently works on Google, Microsoft, and Amazon.

Support for Facebook and other Search publishers will be added in the future.

What tools do the publishers offer? How is Budget Optimizer better? 

No publishers offer what we consider to be a good set of planning tools, and of course they are focused only on their own campaigns, not other channels.

Google offers shared budgets that can be applied to a group of campaigns, but there is only very basic reporting on how much budget has been spent. There is no indication of whether you are ahead of or behind goals.

Google also has Performance Planner which predicts performance at different levels of spend for a set of campaigns. However there is not reporting on how you are doing against the plan, nor is it even hooked up to Smart Bidding.

Can I use a monthly spend target with Google? 

Google does not have a single workflow to track towards monthly spend and requires a daily spend target. Budget Optimizer avoids having to calculate a daily average spend target with a monthly spend goal. 

Can I use Budget Optimizer across Strategies? 

No. In the future, an Awareness Targeted bid strategy can be included as part of the total spend target and whatever budget remains will be allocated to the non-brand campaigns.

Can a campaign exist in multiple Strategies? 

No, Strategies are mutually exclusive sets of campaigns, keywords, etc.

Does this adjust campaign budgets? 

Yes. Depending on whether the advertiser is focused on spend or efficiency, the daily budget might not add up to the monthly.

Does this use Google’s shared budgets? 

No, Budget Optimizer sets budgets individually for each campaign to provide more control on performance.

Are there any alerts if spending is off track? 

No need, Budget Optimizer automatically keeps you on pace. You can click in and look at the Pacing dashboard at any time, and of course you have many reporting options on the Strategies grid if you would like to set up a recurring report.

How often are Strategy targets adjusted? 

Campaign targets are updated once daily, factoring in the target and the spend to date.

What if I am already using Smart Bidding? 

Great! Budget Optimizer will still keep you on pace by adjusting the target for your Smart Bidding strategies. 

How are Awareness Targeting campaigns included in Budget Optimizer? 

Budget Optimizer will not adjust the targets for Awareness Targeting campaigns. These would be mapped to a strategy. However, you could choose to set rules to set a priority campaign targeting Awareness. 

Will this be transparent? 

Yes, Budget Optimizer displays the auction curves and any changes it makes to strategy targets which are recorded in settings history.

How does it handle excluded dates?  

MarinOne Bidding will continue to ignore the data from excluded dates, but the spend from those days will be included when figuring out the remaining budget available.

Does this handle floating holidays like Black Friday or Mother's Day? 

It will handle day of year temporal effects, but floating holidays will require additional manual adjustments.

Can I set or adjust my spend target mid-month? What about ROAS/CPA? 

Yes, Budget Optimizer will optimize towards the remaining budget with the month to day spend. ROAS/CPA goals are evaluated in a rolling window (ex: 2-4 weeks), but you can still change them at any time.

Does Budget Optimizer work for Impression Share? 

Not at present, but we plan to build pacing to a target spend with Impression Share in a future iteration.

How can I map an Amazon portfolio to a Strategy?

The entire cohort of campaigns in the portfolio should be mapped to a single budget optimization Strategy. Campaigns can be mapped to a Strategy from multi-edit in the grid or from a bulk upload.  

Coming Soon

In the future, we plan to introduce additional Budget Optimizer features, including:

  • Dynamic budget allocation, which maximizes spend subject to a performance goal (CPA or ROAS)
  • Pacing to a spend target with priority campaigns
  • Pacing to a spend target with Impression Share

Getting Started 

Ready to get started with Budget Optimizer? Reach out to a platform representative or our customer support team to learn more. 

Written by Marin Software

Last published at: June 28th, 2023