Advertising on Facebook: bad ads are bad for everyone

I’ve just spent the past hour and a half going through Facebook, looking at the various ads targeted to Irish people and getting more and more annoyed with them. The standard of copy, design and actions after clicking an ad makes me want to bang my head against a wall. If badly designed ads are most common on Facebook it means people will pay less attention to them. This is bad for Facebook from a revenue perspective and bad for advertisers who work hard for good copy as people will self-train themselves to ignore all ads due to bad experiences. Here are some tips on what to do and what not do with examples from this evening.

Here are some tips:

Include an image:
This ad is boring plain text. An image would have gotten our attention more.
Useless facebook ad

Target your ads:
This ad asks are you from Ulster. 3/4 of the population that are outside of Ulster also see this ad. Not smart.
Useless facebook ad

Target your copy:
The ad here knows my age so mentions it in the ad itself. You can target deeper than that though. How about my gender, my employment, my martial status?

Useless facebook ad

Have a landing page if going offsite:
These ads sent us to the front page of the websites. Why? Have a targeted ad send us to a targeted page. Make sure the page is designed to ask an action of the person that’s landed.
Useless facebook ad Useless facebook ad

This ad sends us to a specific product page but it isn’t streamlined or have the same copy as the ad that sent you there:
Useless facebook ad

If sending to a page, make sure there’s activity.
This ad sends you to a page that looks pretty dead:
Useless facebook ad

If sending to a page for booze or other goods, make it legal
14 year olds can become fans of this booze. Not good.

Useless facebook ad

5 thoughts on “Advertising on Facebook: bad ads are bad for everyone”

  1. Must disagree on the Norn Iron T-shirts one, they can’t really target geographically as a lot of Norn Irelanders don’t live in the North. eg. my wife. It is generally the ones who don’t live at ‘home’ who generally most proudly wear their county/province colours.
    Having said that I completely agree with you, Facebook ads could be drastically improved. In fact my wife, as mentioned above, who spends quiet a bit of time on Facebook didn’t even realise they had ads until I pointed it out recently. How she didn’t notice them is beyond me, the exception to the rule or the exceptional ability to subconsciously ignore interruptive advertising, I don’t know.

  2. hi Damien,

    Nice. I’d add one tip. “Put the benefit in the headline”. Sounds obvious but lots of ads, online and offline, do not.

    Ads that try and appeal to curiosity like ‘From Ulster?’ do not immediately tell readers what is in it for them. A headline with a benefit in it is generally a better bet.


  3. I’m hating Facebook more and more due to the targetted ads, Got one yesterday saying “Are you 31? Then you are eligible for a draw for an iPhone !!” I’m now happily using FireFox with Adblock. Happy days.

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