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Why Ad Campaigns Underperform & How to Fix Them?

We all expect our online ad campaigns to get us the best results possible. However, the truth is not all ad campaigns fare well in the box office. Some of them do fall behind the mark. That makes us think about what could be the reason behind it. How do we fix it? Here we discern the key ways to optimize a failing ad campaign.

To understand what leads to underperforming campaigns, we looked into our historical data. The insights from them led us to crucial factors that affect the performance of the campaigns. Here they are:

Why Google Ads Underperform and How to Fix Them
  1. 1. Audience Creation: Selecting an inaccurate type of audience, demographic profile, the target location of the ad campaign, ad duration and budget

  2. 2. Campaign Objective: Choosing the campaign goal that doesn’t align with the ad viewer’s stage in your sales funnel

  3. 3. Visuals & Copy: Unappealing visuals and messaging

  4. 4. Landing Page:  Making a landing page that doesn’t sync with the ad’s message, bad website navigation and broken webpages

Most importantly, the advertiser needs to consider these areas within the context of their brand and industry while creating the adcampaign.

Let us shed more light on optimizing the campaign by working on these factors.

1. Consider Your Audience

Sometimes an otherwise well-executed ad campaign can fall short because of inaccurate audience targeting. For instance, if you have selected a broader campaign audience targeting, you may find that users are not familiar enough with your brand or don’t actually need your product. Similarly, sometimes when you select a narrow or exact audience, there are chances of fetching fewer leads or low reach due to a sparse target audience. Key parameters that influence the campaign audience include your audience interests, demographic profile, target location, ad placement, budget, and ad relevance.


  • Audience interests
  • One of the best ways to continuously improve your ad performance is testing and optimizing your campaigns. However, initial audience research is crucial to identify your target audience.

    For audience research, one way is to create a running list of targeting ideas for your ideal persona. Let’s say if you provide self-defense classes, one of your persona can be:

    Persona name: Student A

    • Male/Female
    • 18-45 years old
    • Interested in mixed martial arts
    • Love to watch UFC

    Then, go to Facebook audience insights tool to find out how many people are there in your targeting ideas. Set a location and enter one of your targeting ideas in the Interests field.

    Audience insight tool

    The data shows the age range of your persona lies between 18-54, men being the majority audience.

    Scroll down, you can figure out the top pages liked by people interested in martial arts.

    Facebook top pages

    As surprising as it may seem, these pages are followed by your target audience.

    Add a couple of pages and update your running list of targeting ideas.

    • Male/Female
    • 18-54 years old
    • Interested in mixed martial arts
    • Love to watch UFC
    • Sachin Tendulkar
    • Akshay Kumar

    Repeat the above process by trying out more interests. Once you have collected enough targeting ideas, go to Facebook detailed targeting feature (under Ad Set).

    Type one of our ideas inside the interest field. And one clicking the Suggestions, Facebook gives you more names (self-defense art forms) that your audience may be interested in.

    Facebook detailed targeting

    Add one of the suggestions to your list and see the potential reach for it. A good rule of thumb is to reach around 5,00,000 to 1 million audience. But again, that depends on the type of your business and the locations you serve.

    Then you come down to selecting the other parameters.

  • Location
  • Consider your business type and operations while selecting the location of your ad campaign. For example, a fitness centre advertising in its locality can find more inquiries than advertising throughout the city.

    Finally, choose a budget based on the reach you want.

    Facebook ad budget

  • Budget
  • With higher budgets, auto bidding is higher. The campaign is likely to receive more traffic. With lower ad budgets, the campaign could receive fewer clicks and conversions.

    But there are exceptions. If you have a small location selection and have already covered your TG, increasing the budget will not make any difference and might increase the cost per result.

    The same holds true for low budget ads. If you think you aren’t receiving the desired results, your ad spend might be less and targeting broad. In such a case, you need to either increase the budget or curtail your broad targeting.

  • Prevent Ad Fatigue
  • Ad fatigue is when your audience has seen your ad multiple times, got bored of it and starts to ignore them. As a result, they do not take the action you want them to take, and your results drop off. Key things you can follow to avoid ad fatigue:

    — Refresh your ad copy and creatives

    — Expand your audience

    — Set a custom frequency cap. Lowering your frequency may also help you reach new people in your audience and revive this fatiguing ad set

    Learn 10 tips to avoid ad fatigue.

  • Use Ad relevance diagnostics
  • It is Facebook's own tool that gives you tips on how to improve your ad performance. Review ad relevance diagnostics to determine if adjustments to your creative assets, landing page or audience could improve performance.

    Ad relevance diagnostics columns (quality ranking, engagement rate ranking, conversion rate ranking) can be found under the Performance column preset.

    Ad relevance diagnostics

    If it shows Below average, you can follow the recommendations to improve campaign performance.

    Ad relevance diagnostics aren't available for ads with fewer than 500-1000 impressions.

  • Fix Learning limited
  • During learning phase, Facebook’s delivery system explores and learns to deliver your ad to the best audience possible. During this phase, the results are less stable and the cost higher. But, if your ad gets stuck in the learning phase, Delivery column status reads "Learning limited".

    As per Facebook, an ad set becomes Learning limited when the ad set is limited by:

    • small audience size
    • low budget
    • low bid or cost control
    • high auction overlap
    • low optimization events (e.g. clicks, leads, etc.)
    • too many running at the same time

    Ways to fix learning limited ad sets to improve campaign performance:

         — Combine ads sets and campaigns to get results faster

         — Expand your audience

         — Raise your budget

         — Raise your bid or cost control

         — Change your optimization event

  • Connect your pixel for remarketing and custom conversion campaigns
  • Most people need to see your ad more than once to make a purchase decision. Which is why remarketing ads to people who have already visited your website is essential. You have to set up a Facebook pixel on your website.

    To help Facebook understand what type of people you want on your website, add a pixel event. For example, if you want to increase sign ups, you may add a custom event to the “Thank you page” - which comes after someone signs up on your website. Facebook will work on bringing people who are most likely to sign up on your website.

    Learn how to set up Facebook pixel events, and select a custom event.

    Use Facebook Lookalike audiences to reach audiences similar to your existing customer. The chances of conversion are better. Learn how to create a Lookalike audience in our easy tutorial.

    2. Choose the campaign objective wisely

    While creating the campaign, we select an objective to optimize our campaign towards a specific goal, such as lead generation or website traffic. But sometimes we choose a campaign objective that does not align with our business goal. For example, a real estate business searching for leads does an engagement or promotion campaign instead of a lead generation campaign. This affects the response of the ad campaign.


    Choose a campaign objective that aligns with your business goal and the stage of your prospect in the sales funnel. For instance, targeting a cold audience with a sales objective like website traffic or lead generation would likely fail. This is because your audience is not familiar with the brand yet. On the other hand, a promotion objective can first help create brand awareness. Based on your business goals (lead generation, website traffic, conversions and more), you can then run campaigns for transactions or increasing sales.

    Read: How to Choose the Most Relevant Facebook Ad Objective

    3. Examine the visuals and content copy

    When people browse Facebook or Google, the advertiser has just a split second to grab the audience s attention. There are ads with great strategy and targeting that do not have the right words either on the ad or the landing page.


    While making the creative, you can follow the below tips:

    • Noticeability: The image should have one focal point to grab audience attention.
    • Brand link: Consider the stage of your audience in your sales funnel while writing the copy. Make it easy for the user to identify your brand.
    • Beneficial: Offer a clear incentive and benefit for the customer through your visuals and copy.
    • Informational: Your copy should explain the product well enough.
    • Emotional: Make the ad appealing to the viewer by offering discounts or free returns that lower the buying risk.
    • Call to action: Choose the right CTA that urges the audience to act.

    On Google Ads Network, apart from following the above tips, keep the following things in mind:

  • Headlines & Descriptions
  • There must be an adequate number of headlines and descriptions informing the audience about your products.

  • Insert keywords
  • Strategically use keywords related to your business search query in both your headlines and descriptions. These keywords will help match the search query of the user with your brand. Using a free keyword tool, you can find the keywords with a good volume of search.

    Headline Tips for Google Ads Network

    By writing an ad copy that includes your target keyword, you are effectively telling Google that your ad is relevant to the user’s search query.

  • Use Brand Keyword
  • Depending on where your customers are in the buying process, they might use different search queries to find your product. For instance, someone in the research stage might search using generic terms. As people become aware of your brand and move toward the conversion stage, they might search using your brand name. This can be true for returning customers as well who might use brand names instead of generic search terms. When people search for your brand name, you can rank #1 for your brand keyword in the search results.

  • Use Extensions
  • With extensions such as sitelinks, call, directions, etc in ads, customers can see detailed information about your business like contact number, unique offers, and USPs, among others.

    Adding Call Extensions in Google Search Ads

    Some examples of high performing Google and Facebook ads:

    Examples of high performing Google and Facebook ads
     Why Facebook Ads Underperform and How to Fix Them

    On Visuals:
    Research your industry about what works the best on visuals. For selling a residential apartment, you can showcase the various amenities and views from the apartment using a 3D home tour.

    Read: Effective Creative Ad Guidelines with Examples

    On Copy:
    Write a copy that resonates with your target customer segment. For example, audiences tend to show interest in real estate ads displaying the pricing, certification, and benefits of the apartment.

    On Facebook ad headline, you get 40 characters before the headline may be truncated

    Go Mobile:
    Most of your potential customers are the mobile audience. The type of device affects the display of the ad campaign.

    For example, on mobile, the post copy of Facebook ads is visible up to 120 characters and the rest is truncated inside the ‘Read More’. So, write those first few characters as engaging as possible to make the viewer read more.

    Avoid using pixelated images or images whose content is not readable.

    One of our checklist for real estate advertising

    4. Pay Attention To The Landing Page

    Performing ads boil down to targeting the right audiences and keywords, reducing the cost per acquisition and driving potential customers to your landing page where you have set up a well-thought-out funnel that will improve conversions.

    However, many advertisers fail to take care of having a landing page that syncs with the ad campaign. As a result, the conversions suffer.


    Get Google Analytics to find the pages and exact points where users are dropping off once they visit your website. Set up UTM links in your ad campaigns that help you track where website traffic comes from when users click your ad. If the visitors leave your landing page quickly, you may need to check the following things:

    • Match the information on the landing page with the ad campaign
    • Make the lead form easy to fill with ideally up to 4 fields
    • Check the pricing and USPs
    • Help the customer navigate your website easily
    • Simplify the checkout process
    • Direct the ad viewers only to the stated landing page and not redirect them to a third party website
    • Optimize the loading speed of the site
    • Set up conversion tracking for your website. Conversion tracking can help you see how effectively your ad clicks lead to key customer activity on your website, such as transactions, sign-ups, and form submissions. Learn how to create it here.

    5. Create a smart media buying plan

    Don’t just spend your advertising budget on one platform, try and include as many digital channels as possible. You don’t know which platform your audience is spending the most time on, so don’t just put your oranges in one basket, distribute it equally or as per your business requirement and run ads on Facebook, Google, Instagram and YouTube.

    Learn from those campaign performances and results and then create a detailed media plan as per the most effective platform. Until and unless you do not try and experiment, you will never know

    Advertisers need to vet the areas of audience creation, campaign objective, budget, visuals & copy and landing page and more before and while running an ad campaign. Also, it is essential to identify underperforming online ads and evaluate ad performance consistently. As we stated in the beginning, it is important to remain consistent in your advertising efforts to optimize campaigns and fetch the best results. That leads us to another important topic on why consistent online advertising is the key to more sales. Dig it!


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