Retargeter Blog

7 Reasons Your Ads Aren’t Working


So you don’t think anyone clicks on banner ads anymore? Think again. People are drawn in by banners, just not bad banners. Many advertisers don’t invest in creative and as a result run unsuccessful ad campaigns. Before you decide to call it quits, revisit your display strategy and see if you’re committing any of the following common design mistakes.

1. You’re targeting the wrong audience

Speaking to the wrong audience will not only cause your ads to be a nuisance, it will waste your money. So before investing in any type of online advertising, determine your target market. Identify who (age, gender, location, interests, or job function) will be interested in your product or service. Then, focus your ads on that group and avoid blasting your message to people who aren’t interested.

2. You haven’t addressed the needs of potential customers

Do you emphasis the features of your product or service and forget to focus on its benefits? Effective ads solve a problem or tell a story (who you are, what you offer, why it’s valuable, or where to find you). Keep in mind that at the end of the day, your customers want to know what your product or service can do for them, not just what it does.

This American Express ad does a great job of highlighting two benefits that customers are likely to care about: a welcome bonus and waiving the first year’s membership fee.


3. Zzzzzzz…your ads are boring!

Keep your ad copy simple yet compelling by communicating one or two clear points or asking a question. Use bright borders and colors to make sure your ads stand out. Experiment with different images to make your ads unique and memorable.

4. Your ads are cluttered and overwhelming (Think neon signs in Times Square…)

Don’t attempt to crowd your ad with every benefit of your product or service. When it comes to banner ads, space is limited and too much content makes ads impossible to read. A good banner ad creates just enough curiosity so prospects click, but doesn’t explain your entire product catalog. Make sure you avoid clutter—white space is your friend! There’s a reason everyone copies Apple’s ads.

5. Your potential customers can’t relate

The most polished ads don’t always get the clicks. Think of how many times you’ve seen an ad that you knew was too good to be true. More often than not, people want to see your product or service in action rather than the same stock image everyone else uses. Try using real images that resonate and create an emotional connection. Take Airbnb. They entice users to click by using images of actual vacation homes you can rent.


6. There is no call to action

You’ve perfected your ad copy and creative but now what? Don’t forget to include a strong call to action. Guide your customer to the next step by telling them to “signup here”, “buy now”, “click to download” or “learn more.” Even if the entire banner is clickable, having a strong call to click has been demonstrated to increase click-through-rates.

7. You haven’t leveraged the right tools

There are many tools out there to help you create ads that build brand awareness and maximize ROI. During the design and planning stage, you can use competitive intelligence tool to keep an eye on your competition’s banners and find new traffic sources. Moat’s ad search tool lets you check out which banners other brands are using right now. is private beta for now but keep an eye on this tool for when it releases—it makes advertising across multiple networks simple and efficient.

Hopefully these tips will help you improve your ad copy and creative and make your advertising dollars go the distance. Now, let’s hear what works and what doesn’t for you.


About the Author

Wendy Kam Marcy is a Marketing Manager at, a competitive intelligence platform for online media buying that helps advertisers buy more intelligently, run more profitable campaigns, discover new traffic sources, and help keep an eye on what the competition is up to.