To Pause or Not To Pause? Questions to Ask Yourself Before Pulling the (Temporary) Plug on Paid Digital Campaigns

In social media marketing, it’s a bittersweet reality that there will always be external factors at play. While we can control our content, we don’t always have complete control over the environment we’re sharing it into. As marketers, it’s a hard pill to swallow, especially when we work so hard to craft and execute the *perfect* campaign. But if 2020 showed us anything, it’s that things definitely do not always go according to our carefully curated and calendared plans—and that’s okay! We’re pivoting champions ready to adapt at a moment’s notice.

So when you’re in the middle of a campaign run and hit with some distressing news, before reactively pulling the plug, we recommend asking yourself the following questions to determine what the best course of action is for your brand.

Will your target audience be affected by this event?

In a global crisis, it can still be a case-by-case basis for pausing ad campaigns depending on who you’re trying to reach, why (your campaign objectives), and how (which platforms you’re reaching them on). For instance, if you’re running product ads for a women’s shoe brand on Facebook, you may reevaluate running these ads if News Feeds are currently overflowing with breaking news content and tense conversations. As a brand, it’s important to be sensitive to the bigger conversations happening in-platform and logistically, you don’t want your ads getting lost in the clutter and losing effectiveness.

However, if you’re running similar product ads on Pinterest, it may still be in your best interest to continue running these ads on a platform that users look to for ideas and inspiration, not up-to-date news.

Are you running special category ads that might be vulnerable to Artificial Intelligence (AI) rejections?

If you’re running ads on Facebook that fall under their special ad categories during a crisis, you will definitely want to review these ads as soon as possible. During times of crisis, Facebook is extremely sensitive about ad approvals, especially ones that fall under their special categories. In some past instances, they have gone so far as to temporarily ban these ad categories, prohibiting these ads from running all together.

If your ad content doesn’t fall under the platform’s special ad categories but still discuss a sensitive topic, you may want to consider pausing these ads as well. All Facebook ads are reviewed through a combination of AI and human review, and both are always on high alert for images, text, and ad landing page content that could even remotely violate policy. To preemptively avoid long conversations with Facebook Support amidst a crisis, it may be worth it for your brand to standby on running this campaign.

Are your campaign objectives unreasonable right now?

If your campaign’s KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) go beyond in-platform metrics (think app downloads, registrations, subscribing to a newsletter), you may want to consider pausing your campaign. During a crisis situation, the last thing you want to do is burn through your advertising budget by running ads at a low attention time, especially if your ad’s objectives require a user to take additional steps.

If your KPIs are focused on impressions, video views, and other metrics that require less time and energy on the user’s end, it may be worth it to continue running your ads during this time.

Is the tone of your campaign appropriate in the current climate?

In a distressing environment, it’s important to be sensitive as a brand and consider the kind of content you’re thinking of adding to the current landscape. Picture a social media platform feed—, would your ad or organic post stick out like a sore thumb right now? If so, it’s probably in your best interest to hold off on sharing until things have cooled down and there’s higher potential for user receptiveness. It’ll be worth it to deliver your content to an audience more open to engaging with your brand.

Does your ad or organic social media content hold value to users right now?

When tensions are high, consider the content you had planned to share and its value now. If it’s informative but unrelated to the current crisis, it may be best to hold off and wait until your audience is generally in a headspace where they can absorb your content’s information. If it’s light and uplifting, it could be the positive distraction your audience needs and the kind of content they’re looking to engage with. When the social media landscape seems overwhelming in the face of the latest news break, don’t underestimate the power of content that provides users with a sense of relief.

While a crisis can be overwhelming and spike tensions across social platforms, we never recommend reactively pulling the plug on marketing efforts before evaluating the why’s. There isn’t one correct response for all brands because each brand is different in what their content brings to the table. Sharing feel-good content amidst chaos may be received well when users are looking for distractions from the latest news story. Always think back to your overarching objectives and if they’re realistically achievable during this time or if you’re better off standing by for things to cool down.

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