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Cost Caps VS Lowest Cost: The Ultimate Ad Buying Showdown


Oh hi there, Haveaclue! It’s me, Barry. If this is your first newsletter from me, WELCOME!!! Sorry for the ~3 month hiatus. I hope you’re doing well and had a killer Q4!

I’ve been buried with work and fatherhood, and have found I don’t always have time to manage a weekly newsletter with the quality I want to put out. So, I’m going to keep using this for sharing some longer form thoughts I think you’ll enjoy (when I have them).

If you read my last newsletter, you might remember I mentioned spending a bunch of time with my friend and badass TikTok/YouTube star Dara Denney recording a little (~2 hour) podcast thing in studio, that thing is now live and you should definitely watch it right here:

Btw get Dara’s incredible Performance Creative Master Course here and use code UGLYADS (duh) for $100 off! After you order through my link, please reply “DARA” to this email to let me know and I’ll send you a free Make Ugly Ads hatt of your choice.

Ok, let’s get into today’s topic:

Cost Caps VS Lowest Cost: The Ultimate Media Buying Showdown

I came across this interesting post about lowest cost vs bid/cost caps from Olivia Kory of Haus and I had to respond:

I started writing, and kept finding more and more caveats and nuance that I had to dig into more. I suddenly found what I was saying was too long and too nuanced for Twitter (I really don’t want to call it X), so here we are.

As a guy who famously loves to wear many (ugly) caps, you’d maybe think I’m more of a cost/bid cap kind of guy, but if you follow me on Twitter, you probably already know I tend to prefer the lowest cost/highest volume side of things.

ChatGPT made this on my first prompt

For the sake of simplicity, for the rest of this newsletter, I’m going to try to refer to lowest cost (now called “highest volume”) as “lowest cost” and bid/cost caps (or “cost per result goal”) as “caps” even though bid caps and cost per result goal are different. (We won’t be talking about ROAS goal here, sorry, maybe another time, buuut probably not)

Before We Dig In

Everything you’re about to read is based on my 15+ years of experience with buying Facebook ads and mostly from my last ~5 years in the DTC ecom space working with a wide variety of brands in a variety of capacities.

Much of what I like to talk about is theoretical or philosophical and would be difficult to prove with (unbiased) data. I also acknowledge that while I try to be unbiased and impartial, I am human and have my biases from my experiences and these may be very different from your experiences.

We all fall into social bubbles (especially on Twitter) and it’s easy to get into a cycle of self-fulfilling prophecy.

I’ve worked very hard throughout my career to challenge myself and my own beliefs, and I recommend you do the same.

Ok, now that that’s out of the way, let’s dig in:

I generally agree with Olivia’s concerns of caps scraping the least incremental sales that are already bound to happen, especially for larger brands like Jones Road Beauty here (even moreso now that JRB has recently expanded their advertising channels).

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