Reasons Why Facebook Ads FAIL

This has been an interesting article that has been circulating around the office.

Many companies believe that if it’s on Facebook, then they will have the needed exposure and do well.

But this is not always the case.

Just like an other type of advertisement, the content and imagery needs to speak to the audience and grab their attention! And you only have a small number of characters and space to do it!

To master this skill, it is always best to look at past company failures. So you don’t do it yourself and learn from their mistakes!

Some of the following tips may seem like common sense to any advertiser or marketer, but in the world of social media everything is a little bit more trickier.

Check out the article below by David Rollo on iMedia Connection.

4 Reasons Why Facebook Ads Flop

As Facebook develops more advertising products to help advertisers reach audiences within the platform, and more and more studies show that Facebook ads actually work, there’s now no question that Facebook should be a component in every online ad strategy.

But there are still questions about how to actually make your Facebook ads work. The level of targeting on Facebook is unprecedented, but advertisers still trip over their own feet trying to execute effective display ad campaigns that resonate with consumers.

4 reasons Facebook ads flop

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Facebook ad failure generally stems from one of these four primary components: ad type, ad creative, ad targeting, and performance goals. To avoid and overcome these stumbles in the future, let’s take a look at why ads don’t work and how advertisers can avoid these common errors.

Ad type

To the untrained eye, all Facebook ads look alike. But there are 20 different kinds of Marketplace ads and 19 Premium ad types. Premium ads are larger and go into the news feed. Marketplace doesn’t offer that capability. As the name implies, Facebook’s Premium ads cost more than Marketplace because they offer higher visibility and a higher return on engagement. Marketplace inventory offers a low-cost, high-reach efficiency buy. If you’re looking to build relevant “likes,” buy Marketplace. For a message about a product launch, buy Premium.

And then there’s mobile, the new kid on the block, which is, of course, the only way to reach the mobile Facebook audience. While we’ve seen high CTRs for mobile inventory, the question that still needs to be answered is if there’s enough volume to scale buys.

Using the wrong ad type is like setting yourself up to fail. So before you even dive in, clearly identify the campaign goals, objectives, and KPIs so that you can identify the best ad placement and type for your campaign. We’ll get deeper into goals later in the article, but knowing more about the Facebook platform and which ad types lead to certain kinds of performance is the very first step.

Creative messaging

The image within your Facebook ads should relate to the ad text if and when possible. It seems obvious, but unfortunately, many ads contain irrelevant images that simply don’t connect image and message. The ad type plays a factor here because ad products like Page post ads and Sponsored Stories leverage the image and text directly from brand page content and posts. Advertisers don’t have the option of changing the image within their ad with these units, so it becomes even more important to build relevant images into brand page content.

Here’s one ad with a lot wrong with it. That headline looks like an alphabet. The ad copy is poorly written too. But the image is the biggest problem.

I have pretty good eyes and a creative mind when it comes to figuring out what I’m looking at, but after staring at this for five minutes, I’m still not sure what I’m looking at. It could be a kitchen, with something red sitting on a countertop. And are those cabinets to the left? It’s not clear, and you can rest assured a consumer isn’t going to spend as much time deciphering the image.

That text matters too. Remember that your ad isn’t a brand diary. Facebook has a character limit for a reason, so keep the copy short and to the point. If it’s too long or too meandering, the user won’t understand the brand message at all.

Here’s another example of poor text. Can you figure out what this ad is for on first glance? The headline is non-descriptive, and the text isn’t helping. What is a spectator kit? From the image, it looks like it could be a folding chair with bags attached.

Rather than the offer and the value, consumers have no clue what product is involved. If the user doesn’t know what he or she is getting, how can that person take action on it?

The first job of an ad is to get your attention. The Publix brand name in the headline is a good start, but the image doesn’t look good, and the bulky body copy is probably more harmful than helpful. After attention, an ad should inspire a consumer’s intention, and this unclear ad is going to have a hard time doing that.

An ad is like a one-two punch. The image must be focused on getting the users’ attention, and the copy should drive them deeper into a branded experience or illicit an intention (such as a “like,” click, comment, or view).

Remember to leverage your best page content as your paid content. Facebook has built its ad units and products with this intention, making it easy for brands to push the content on their brand profiles out as advertising. Yet most brands aren’t leveraging page post ads or Sponsored Stories to their fullest potential. They’re letting the earned content that garners high numbers of “likes” and comments to wither and die, rather than using it as part of a paid strategy. If your paid ad strategy and your page content strategy aren’t working hand in hand, you’re not using Facebook properly.


As an advertiser, you should know who your current audience is via Facebook Insights. This is basic information on demographics, geographic data, interests, and other data that is readily available to Facebook marketers. But that information isn’t enough, and it shouldn’t limit the audience you target with your paid ads.

Brands should be looking for the audience target that shows the most opportunity and high affinity connection to the brand, as it’s these targets that represent a higher opportunity to convert and can be acquired at the lowest cost.

ROI must be front and center in Facebook strategy, so make sure you’re looking for the audience that drives the highest return. Targeting an expensive audience that is very unlikely to respond to your ads and content is the same as throwing money away. And by all means, if the audience doesn’t respond to the ads, stop throwing money at them. It’s a good bet that Nike has saturated the audience of people who “love running,” but it can find new audiences that are likely to connect.

Advertisers like GM have publicly stated that Facebook advertising doesn’t work for their brands, but targeting the wrong audience never works. Before giving up on what has become the dominant social platform for brands, dig deeper. Know more about your fan base and target audience and then structure your campaign to deliver the best performance possible.

Start by understanding the best time of day, day of week, and type of assets (text, links, image, video, polls) that drive the most interactions with your audience. These insights can help you determine ad type, image, messaging, and campaign flighting. You can even structure your campaign to optimize and deliver against specific goals such as conversions, “likes,” and target impression counts. Social advertising offers more options and control than any other advertising channel today; it’s up to brands (and their partners) to understand and leverage these options to their advantage.

As you begin to understand more about your audience, adapt your tactics to reach them. If your ads aren’t resonating with one audience, leverage some outside tools to find pockets of audience that will respond. If you find your audience skews toward smartphone usage, think about Facebook’s mobile ad distribution. An early study of Facebook’s mobile ads found that mobile Sponsored Stories are getting more than 13 times the CTR and earn more than 11 times the eCPM of Facebook’s desktop web ads.

If the ads aren’t working immediately, don’t give up. Try a different targeting tactic.

Performance goals and expectations

Creative and targeting are common errors across all digital marketing components, but performance goals are becoming increasingly common in Facebook. If your advertising campaigns still fail after experimenting with creative and targeting, you might need to reassess your performance goals and expectations.

As the content and experiences within advertising evolve, metrics and expectations should as well. Facebook is a unique user experience channel, but too many marketers bring old-school measurement tactics to the social channel, which results in a one-dimensional results set that fails to tell the full story.

Look, metrics like CTR draw a “so what?” response from nearly every marketer, but they’re not going anywhere. Still, the focus on Facebook needs to shift toward more meaningful data driven insights.

Brands often look for nothing more than driving fan base numbers, but smart brands should drive past that to understand true reach and visibility of their brand across the platform. This means looking at engagement, which should be the main goal of social advertising.

Facebook tells us that even the best posts on a brand page reach only 16 percent of a brand audience. Paid advertising increases the visibility of these posts, with the highest virality, to not only the existing fans, but to other audiences that will respond. Page posts and Sponsored Stories have become two of the best ways to increase existing audiences for brands.

Brands have been comparing themselves to their competitors based solely on fan counts, but that’s not a good barometer of success. Instead, look at the per-post engagement average of a brand to its competitors. The goal is to influence deeper engagement, and we’ve seen brands blow their larger competitors out of the water with smaller fan counts.


Facebook is a powerful advertising channel, but, just like in the early days, some advertisers rush into paid campaigns without thinking about the basics. Think of Facebook advertising the same way you’d set up an account to interact with fans. Align your goals to the medium, learn about your audience, and then develop creative that leverages relevant images and punchy text. By working on those three components, you’ll be well on your way to Facebook success.


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