It’s a fact: the average person is exposed to over 5,000 advertising messages a day.  From logos, to billboards, to newspaper articles, to online advertising, it’s become a real challenge for advertisers to get their message through.  In the online world, advanced-targeting has allowed advertisers to get more out of their advertising dollars.  As more and more advertisers turn to online, some seems to be forgetting their Advertising 101 education (or simply don’t know it altogether).  Today we’re going to share with you some actual “ad fails” that we’ve come across over the past week, and show you where these advertisers went wrong.

Language Issues

Living in Canada, seeing a French advertisement isn’t uncommon, but when it’s being targeted to me on Facebook, where everything I have always done (except visit Paris) was in English seems a little out of place.  The next ad takes language targeting to a new level by showing me a Thai (I think?) advertisement alongside my Gmail e-mails. There is absolutely no reason this advertisement should have showed to me.  Take special consideration into the language used by the individuals you’re targeting. Be smart with your language targeting, as it will ultimately have a dramatic effect on your advertising results.

Tip: Google ads are not translated on your behalf by Google, you must do this manually.

Image Issues

While it is true that ads containing images of a face, or playing with your image layouts can produce higher click-through-rates, best practice is still that the image is relevant to your ad text for conversion purposes. Clicks are one thing, but interested clickers are ideally what we’re after.  Take these ads for example, both use an image that doesn’t take advantage of the full image ad space that Facebook provides. One image is relevant to the offer, while the other isn’t at all.  In our experience, the ad with the relevant image will get more interested clickers overall. Our recommended changes?  The first ad needs an image relevant to the text its using, and the second needs a cropped image and some text clean-up (we’ll explain more in our “call to action” issues part of this post)


Our next ad suffers from a scaling issue.  While this image is relevant to the ad text, it’s nearly impossible to see what we’re looking at because the picture is of low quality and has poor lighting.  The image is ultimately unrecognizable.  This photo needs some better cropping, and lighting to showcase what the advertiser is after.

Finally, our last ad in this group is a no-brainer mistake.  It appears as though this advertiser didn’t take the time to crop their image for their ad, and the result – a squeezed logo that is barely readable.  Poor quality ads will not produce solid results.  For Facebook ads, it’s really a best practice not to use any text in the image, unless the text is the image itself (but even in this case the text needs to be very large and bold).

Tip: Your image is the most important factor in your ads – make it relevant, make it obvious, make it clear.

Call To Action Issues

Online ads exist to be clicked, not used to send e-mails or initiate phone calls.  Both these ads try to get viewers to call or email from the ad.  You may be surprised to know that you cannot select text from any advertisement.  Once you click on the ad, it will take you to the destination – and since most people will copy and paste an e-mail address to send an e-mail, adding one to your ad text is pointless. Adding a phone number is also unnecessary.  If a client is interested in talking with you, they will call.  Your advertisement should be focused on a call to action, and on the destination page, you should help them get in touch by either better highlighting your phone number or having a simple form.

Tip: Don’t try and make your ad everything to everyone!


We hope you’ve enjoyed our look into some ad fails. We’d love to hear your thoughts on any questionable ads you’ve seen, or better yet, ads you’ve done that now you’re second-guessing (we’ve all been there). Feel free to drop us a line, or learn more about our online advertising offerings.

Share on social:Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Subscribe to our e-newsletter

Our knowledge directly to your inbox

Marketing Topics

Have a question about this post?

We're here to help!

Ask a question

Post Written By:

Brian Siddle

Author picture

Directory of Content and Community

Back to top