3 Ways We Failed at Digital Advertising

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In many ways, advertising makes the world go round. We help businesses sell products. We make users aware of new things that they may need or want. And we try to keep it fun and relevant while we’re doing it.

The digital age has brought a revolution of sorts to the advertising world. With digital advertising, the high costs, long lead times, and lack of results that were common in traditional media became a thing of the past. Instead of local businesses cutting expensive TV spots or buying newspaper ads, they’re now using search and display to promote their products and services.

Digital is less expensive than traditional media. It offers a nimbleness and immediacy that’s unmatched in the advertising world. It’s measurable down to minute details.

And yet, we’ve found ways to fail at digital advertising.

Like anything else, there is a right way and a wrong way to advertise. Here are 3 ways we’ve failed at digital advertising.

Poor landing pages.

Landing pages aren’t advertising per se. You can have the best landing page in the world, but like the tree falling in the woods, a great landing page makes no sound if no one is there to hear (or see) it. Advertising is needed to drive visitors to your landing pages. And poor landing pages, sadly, are still common, even in 2016.

Sure, it takes more effort up front to create great landing pages. But it’s worth it in the end. You wouldn’t spend a bunch of money creating and buying TV ads, only to have people show up at your dirty, cluttered store – and you shouldn’t spend money on digital advertising until your “virtual” store is in shape.

Use landing page best practices to avoid this common digital advertising failure.

Failing to understand the mobile mindset.

There’s no doubt that mobile devices have changed our lives. What was once the stuff of Star Trek writers’ imaginations is now in the palm of each and every one of our hands. I’m sure few of us can imagine life without our mobile devices now.

Each of the past 5 years has been declared “the year of mobile,” and yet it’s taken digital advertisers far too long to catch up. I still see websites that aren’t mobile optimized, forcing PPC advertisers to shut off mobile altogether – thereby missing out on a huge chunk of potential traffic and conversions.

And the ads we’re showing on mobile are terrible. The user experience is beyond painful.

Case in point: an eConsultancy article this week that asks, Has CNN created the worst ever mobile ad experience?

It may not be the worst ever, but CNN has definitely failed at mobile digital advertising – as have a lot of other advertisers. In our greed to capture as many leads, subscriptions, and dollars as possible, we’ve forgotten that there is an actual user on the other side of the mobile phone who just wants to read your content without having to tap a tiny “X” in the top of the screen to get your crappy ads to go away.

Stop the madness.

Bombarding users with untargeted remarketing.

I still remember when I first heard about remarketing, at an SES conference about 10 years ago. I was blown away by the fact that we could actually target previous visitors of our website with specific ads that were different for each user. What a game-changer!

Remarketing has definitely changed the game for digital advertising. It’s enabled us to have the frequency advertisers enjoyed with the repetition found in traditional media like TV and radio – and the added bonus of targeting that the traditional media lack.

And yet, so many advertisers fail at remarketing by doing it wrong.

Remarketing isn’t stalking. If you’re aware that ads are following you around the web, the advertiser has failed at digital advertising.

If you’re using remarketing – and you should be – I implore you to put some effort into targeting your audiences and ads. I’m going to be speaking about remarketing at SMX Advanced in a few weeks, so if you’re coming to that great conference, I hope you’ll attend my session. Come introduce yourself!

Digital advertising is great. It’s provided me with a wonderful and fulfilling career. I hope we can stop failing at it.

What are some ways you’ve seen advertisers fail at digital advertising? Share in the comments!

Editor’s Note: eConsultancy posted a follow-up article to the CNN post on June 15, 2016. It’s an interesting read.

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Comments

  1. In the past, I’ve loved Retargeted Ads as a marketer and hated Retargeted Ads as a consumer. I recently went through an experience where I loved the Retargeted Ad as a consumer and would’ve lost my job had I been the marketer who ran it. The fundamental premise behind retargeting is someone visits your website, has a positive experience, does not convert for whatever reason and should be reminded about your brand constantly. After my experience, I tend to believe this premise is naive and exposes a fundamental weakness in Retargeting. What if somebody has a negative experience during or after the website experience? Shouldn’t they be retargeted with a wholly different messaging or, if that is technologically impossible, excluded from your retargeting campaign altogether? My blog post on this subject coincidentally went live today: http://gtm360.com/blog/2016/06/03/perils-of-shoot-yourself-in-the-foot-retargeting/

    • Melissa Mackey says:

      Great points about remarketing. Sentiment is something that’s nearly, if not totally, impossible to gauge with remarketing data. We definitely risk alienating people who had a bad experience on our site by following them around! Thanks for your comment.

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