I do almost solely search ads for clients, but we’re demoing some Google display ads in several international markets, mostly in South America, with great results so far. Legitimate leads at a quarter the price of our search campaigns or lower (sometimes far lower). I’ve got a custom intent audience set up, using my client’s websites and the websites of their close competitors to build the audience. The audience size is 10-50 million and we’re serving ads to 7 countries.
After two weeks of lights out performance, traffic from my custom intent audience has dropped close to zero, down 99% since last week. This corresponds with a severe (though not *as* severe, more like 65%) drop in overall traffic. My understanding is that because I have audience expansion on, Google is serving ads to targets it believes is a good fit based on my custom intent audience, despite my audience itself no longer serving ads.
I googled the issue a little but I did not see a relevant topic regarding this issue. My hypothesis is that one of two problems have occurred:
1. The campaign has hit a frequency cap with any and all potential members of my audience. Google won’t show the ads anymore because they’ve already been served too often to the same users.
2. I’ve eaten up all the cheaper placements available as my budget is rather limited for the campaign. Google is giving me the ‘raise the budgets’ message, but I don’t have the freedom to raise the budget at will. While Google recommends doubling our budget, I only received approval from the client to increase it by 25% for now.
I really can’t expand the audience that much further – we’re in a really specific niche where only a few industries use our equipment.
Do either of these hypotheses make sense? How can I investigate this campaign properly to find out why my audience isn’t serving?