10 Terrible Facebook Ads You Better Not Pay to Promote

Top 10 Facebook Advertising Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Facebook just announced they’ve cracked AdBlock software on Desktop, and can now prevent users from hiding advertisements. Their update comes with revamped ad preferences that give users the power to punish bad ads - lifting the blanket opt-out while putting the fate of advertisers in the hands of their audiences.

As a social ads solution, we obviously see this as an exciting opportunity for our clients. But, we’re also terrified. Facebook just handed advertisers an unprecedented second chance and we’re hoping idiots don’t ruin it for everyone (again).

We’re doing our part to avoid any ad disasters - which will inevitably result in new AdBlock software that trumps Facebook’s blocker - by imploring that everyone repeats this mantra before opening Facebook Ads Manager:

“I will not pay to promote bad ads."

If you’re unclear of what a “bad ad” is, let us explain.

Don’t Be “That Guy” at the Facebook Ads Party

Facebook News Feed is like a party.

But - this party has no bouncer, cheap cover and invites for everyone from the frat bros to their great grandfathers.

Much like every party has personalities people can’t stand, Facebook is plagued by ads everyone hates. We’re here to help you not be "that guy".

Here are the 10 worst social ad offenders and the antidotes to their antics...

10 Terrible Facebook Ads (and their Antidotes)

The Stalker

We all know this one. You go to a webpage once, and suddenly an ad for their product is stalking you everywhere. Even if you finally cave and buy the product, it still haunts you anytime you open Facebook. The Stalker can turn even the most loyal customer into a raging patron trying to file a digital restraining order against your brand.

ANTIDOTE: The trick to killing stalkers is integrating your e-commerce with your social ads. Then, when someone buys your product you can ensure they never see an ad for that product again (instead, send it to their friends)! This not only saves you from annoying your customers, it also prevents haemorrhaging budget on pointless ads.

The Gold Digger

Speaking of bleeding money, avoid Gold Diggers at all cost. These are decent enough looking ads - they’re maybe even pretty enough to get lots of attention and likes. But these sneaky ads only end up draining your lifetime budget without ever making you any money back. On the surface, they’re doing well. But they’ll never convert.

ANTIDOTE: You must track your conversions and attribution across platforms. Setting up a system for tracking ROI will guarantee you stop Gold Diggers in their path and save your hard-earned cash for better performing ads. Ideally, you’d have a system that would assess ROI and turn ads on and off for you automatically like Fan CRM.

The Facepalm Emoji

This gag-worthy excuse for an appeal at a “millennial audience” is everyone's favourite ad to tease. Dressing your otherwise enterprise business up with a flashy cat meme slapped with a Snapchat filter and cute emojis will never impress the younger demographic. It’ll have them eye-rolling and blocking you faster than you can type #bae.

ANTIDOTE: If you’re looking for authentic appeals to a younger generation, exploit your assumptions about their inherent narcissism and show them themselves! User-generated content is the fastest path to authenticity (as long as you get permission). If you collaborate with an influencer it’s even better. At the very least do audience research.

The Megaphone

Our ears hurt already. Megaphones indiscriminately yell their self-serving message at everyone and everything. They don’t employ proper targeting, they don’t consider their context and they always seem to write in all capital letters. These people were the reason Facebook created their 20% text rule… but that’s been discontinued. Oops.

ANTIDOTE: Step 1: Turn off CAPS LOCK. Step 2: Fix your mass market approach by employing custom audiences. These highly targeted audiences allow you to create custom messages for fans of your page, visitors of your website, users of your app and more. If you’re looking to expand beyond your audience, Lookalikes are great.

The Narcissist

Despite only one in 100 people having narcissistic personality disorder, we swear 98 of 100 advertisers compulsively only talk about themselves. If your ads provide literally no value to your audience and only talk about your “awesome” brand and your product, you’re a Narcissist and you need to be stopped. It’s rude and obnoxious.

ANTIDOTE: Take a serious step back and think about what your customer would like to hear from you. Promote the person your customer will become with your product, not your brand. Advertise experiences, not things. As much as you’ve poured your life into your product, no one cares about its features. So stop talking about them.

The Non-Sequitur

Similar to a Gold Digger, these seem promising on the surface. Your audience may even be convinced enough to click. But once they leave their News Feed they’re rudely interrupted by some horribly irrelevant page that says nothing about what they were promised. They’re lost, angry and confused on your ugly mobile unfriendly index.

ANTIDOTE: If your landing page was a story, your ad is the title. You must have a dedicated web page for every ad campaign you run, that logically follows the ad's promise. It’s even better if your landing page is simple, visually consistent and only contains a single call to action (like a form or buy button). And they must be mobile friendly!

The Anti-Social Billboard

These unsociable bores just state your brand or product with no invitation to engage. They don’t ask fans to participate, they don’t invite them to tag their friends and they certainly don’t compel them to click the Share button. They're simply copy-and-pasted from the design specs of their print ads and give no thought to context.

ANTIDOTE: Here’s a pro tip: social ads are on social media. Facebook ads are nothing like a highway billboard. They shouldn’t look anything like a highway billboard. You have a unique chance to make your ad relevant enough that your fans will share it for you. They’ll like and comment on it. The key? Relevance Score. Check it out.

The Illiterate Napkin Note

"How did this end up on my News Feed?!” is the most common reaction to these abominations. Their only value is supplying humiliating screenshots for public shaming on Mashable. They’re wrought with typos, don’t make any sense and completely lack a compelling call to action. They may as well have been written by a bot (were they?).

ANTIDOTE: Well first things first - proofread. Use Grammarly if you must. If you’re going to spend hundreds, even thousands of dollars sending a message to a massive audience, it’s worth a triple spell check. Better yet, hire an actual copywriter that knows how to write engaging, curiosity-inducing copy that will attract your target audience.

The Creative Monstrosity

A close cousin of the napkin note, the creative monstrosity looks like your toddler drew your ad visual in MS Paint. Either that or your stock image is so sterile that people can predict your exact search terms (“smiling woman with salad” comes to mind). If a picture tells a thousand words, make sure your message isn’t “I suck at design” 1000x.

ANTIDOTE: Hire a designer. Pay for proper original photography, or a damn good stock image website. At the very least use Canva, which should mostly prevent you from designing a carousel worthy of a run down circus fair. Your image is the number one thing your fans are going to notice, so make sure you’re giving it your best shot.

The Ambiguous Musing

Somewhere between a motivational poster and a trendy Instagram post, The Ambiguous Musing leaves potential customers with a combined sense of calm and then subsequent confusion: Who is this ad from? What is it for? What does “Discover More” mean? Why is there a pretty picture of a mountain? Am I about to be murdered?

ANTIDOTE: The cure to completely vague ads is to start with your end goal and work backwards. Don’t fall into trend traps and just repost an #ExploreBC Instagram photo if you’re not Tourism British Columbia. Every ad must have a crystal clear audience, an even more specific intention and an identifier of who you are (not a murderer).

Now that you’re armed with a field guide for terrible Facebook ads, go take inventory. If any your current ads even closely resemble these ten abominations, immediately burn them. Not only do they make you look terrible on social media, they could get your ads banned forever. All it takes is a few people reporting you for your ad bids to skyrocket and your traffic to tank.

Moral of the story? Don’t be "that guy" at the Facebook ad party or you’ll be booted - quickly and expensively. TL;DR: if you wouldn’t date your ad, dump it.

Need a hand crafting better Facebook ads? Talk to us. We're here to help.

Too sheepish to talk? Download our free guide to better Facebook ads.


Tradable Bits
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Tradable Bits

Tradable bits is the leading fan-based marketing platform for sports + music. Know your fans and market smarter with engagement campaigns, user-generated content, Fan CRM, targeted ads and more.

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