The Top 5 Reasons Paid Ads Fail

Top 5 Reasons Paid Ads Fail
Updated Jan. 12, 2022 Published May. 21, 2019 4 Min. Read

Search ads, social media ads, display ads, billboards, flyers — paid ads amplify your reach, help you improve your product, and boost sales.
Except when they don’t.
Yup. It can be traumatizing when paid ads fail. After all that time, effort, and expense, your ads simply cost you more money than you make from them. When that happens, it’s not time to quit. It’s simply time to step back and ask yourself: what made my paid ad fail?

Here are the top 5 reasons your paid ad failed:

1. You missed your target audience.

Who is your target market? Where do they live, how old are they, and what do they like to do?
Guessing is not enough. Comparing them to yourself (“Well, I’d use this service!”) is not enough. Creating buyer personas is both challenging and filled with childlike fun. It’s like creating an imaginary friend from scratch — except this imaginary friend is a condensation of the thousands (or millions) of people who will want to patronize your brand.

2. Your messaging is inconsistent.

Knowing who you’re speaking to is the first step. Knowing how to speak to them comes next. If you know who your audience is, but you don’t speak their language or empathize with their preferences, your messages may fall flat.
Ads also fail when keywords, ad content, and your landing page aren’t aligned. Imagine you owned a one-stop-shop bakery, where everything you sell is ready to eat on the go. You want to sell your various cakes and pastries to families who want to hold small celebrations at home. You run a display ad featuring a stock photo of a happy family surrounding a birthday cake that says, “Happy 10th Birthday Tyler!” Your CTA is “Explore Our Menu.” Upon clicking your ad, your audience is directed to your website’s menu, where they find out you don’t customize cakes.
They back off in disgust, annoyed at wasting a few seconds. And in the internet world, wasting people’s seconds is a bit of a betrayal. You can be sure they won’t be clicking on your ads again in a hurry.

3. Your ad creative is boring. Or ugly.

Put yourself in the mind of your audience for a second. Here they are, mindlessly scrolling through their social media platforms or online, and your ad pops up… what are they going to do? Well, if it’s catchy, professional, and attention-grabbing, they’ll pause for a few seconds, and perhaps click through your ad – success!
But if your ad images are basic, boring, ugly, and hastily thrown together inside of MS Paint? No one will stop their scrolling, no one will click through, and your entire ad set will tank.
This is where the power of experienced creative comes in (and where Design Pickle can help – hint, hint!). Professional photos, unique design, and bold colors and fonts all work together to increase your ad conversions and prevent future failure. Check out this ad design tips and examples before your next campaign.

4. Your audience needs to do too much work.

You’ve given them one too many options. You’ve asked them to click one too many times.
Let’s say you’re a photographer, and you want people to book your services. Your paid Facebook ad says “Book Now!” It then leads to your website’s landing page, which contains your portfolio. People will have to scroll through your portfolio and look for your “Booking” page, then read about the different types of offerings you have before booking.
Assuming they go through the whole process, they’ll be able to browse your portfolio, read about your different services, and decide to book. But chances are, they won’t. Your ad invited them to book, and that’s what they expected to be able to do.
That’s too much to expect from your audience. You have to choose one of the following:

  • Your Facebook ad CTA is “Book Now!” and leads straight to your booking page.
  • Your Facebook ad CTA is “View My Portfolio” and leads straight to your portfolio page.
  • Your Facebook ad CTA is “What I Offer” and leads straight to your list of services.

An old proverb goes, “If you chase two rabbits, you will not catch either one.” This is true for advertising. Focus on one ask, one result. You can expect yourself to multitask, but never expect it of your customers.

4. You forgot to A|B test your ad.

Always try to run ads in two alternate directions and measure the results. This way, every time you run your two ads, you have instant comparative results. You don’t have to wait until your next app marketing or ecommerce campaign (and lose time and money in the process) in order to get that information.
A|B testing will also help you finalize your buyer personas. Try speaking to two sample personas at a time to find out which demographics are more responsive, and which “main” persona you should target full-time.

When paid ads fail, it may feel like you’re shouting into a void. And maybe you are. One of the above mistakes will leave your message unseen and unheard. So which of the above advertising oversights are you guilty of? What else have you learned from your previous ad campaigns?

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