Don’t sabotage your advertising spend

You spend money putting out an ad on social media, hoping it would reach as many people as possible. But it hardly goes viral. What happened?

It is more common than you think as the number of online ads surges. Advertisers are spending more on digital than traditional media, as online platforms promise direct access to consumers.

In 2017, digital ad spending reached US$209 billion worldwide, surpassing the US$178 million spent on TV ads.

The popularity of digital ads is due to technologies on Google and Facebook that provide detailed audience information. On Facebook, ads can even be targeted based on gender, age range or user interests.

But with more advertising platforms and technologies come more pitfalls. Simply spending lots of ad dollars on these platforms does not guarantee audience traffic or sales.

Here are five mistakes you should avoid to achieve the most out of your ad budget.

#1: Not having clear goals

Most online ads get lost in cyberspace when they do not have a single, focused goal.

To avoid that, first identify what your main message is. Are you telling the market about a new product? Are you building awareness for your brand? Are you encouraging others to switch to your brand?

Identifying this is important, as it will help you design more relevant ads. Here’s how Nike succeeds in this aspect.


With a photo of a single Nike shoe to draw your attention, the ad has just one message: You can now customise and design your own Nike shoes online.

The ad does not try to do everything at once. It focuses on one objective, which is to tell the market about its new “NIKEiD” service.

#2: Trying to reach too many people

A lot of new advertisers believe they should show their ads to as many people as possible. Not quite. Instead, you should focus on showing your ads to as many relevant people as possible. The keyword is “relevant”.

The more you narrow down your audience, the more likely it is that people seeing your ads will actually have an interest in your products and services.

We can learn some tips from wearable camera manufacturer GoPro.


The above ad starts with “Got a HERO4?”, suggesting that it is targeting its existing customers to upgrade their current camera.

This targeted ad, which talks about trading in an older generation camera for a discount on a new one, is also a great way to generate customer loyalty.

#3: Targeting the wrong audience

Even the most carefully crafted campaigns will fall flat if you are speaking to the wrong audience. In digital marketing, knowing your audience is everything.

What are their pain points? What are the graphic styles that appeal to them? What words do they use?

This online ad from The New York Times shows how they target young readers effectively.

The New York Times

It draws you in with an intriguing illustration and a listicle headline. From it, we know the article’s ideal audience: Millennials. Or more specifically, young readers who are interested in health and fitness.

The quirky cartoon – illustrating a hip lifestyle with messy-haired characters, champagne bottles, knitted jackets and printed pajama pants –quickly draws the attention of the young audience who can identify with the imagery in the illustration. The media publication knows this group has a short attention span, so it appeals to their need for instant gratification with the question and the bait of short, snappy “8 health habits”.

#4: Using too much text

When it comes to online ads, keep it concise. Most importantly, you must show value. What does someone get out of using your product? How will it help them?

To do so, illustrate one key way your product is benefitting your customers. Let’s compare how these two ads sell a property.

Kent Ridge Hill Residences is a property portal in Singapore. Here in the ad, it begins with a clear call to its target audience – nature lovers. Next, it focuses on one clear message: the proximity of Kent Ride Hill Residences to greenery.

Photos are equally effective in conveying your message. In this ad, the photo is complementary and reflects exactly what is in the main point – a property nestled among greenery.

Compare this to an ad for a property below that tries to fit too many information into its text.

Lokaa Developer

To keep it short and concise, focus on one benefit. To make this ad better, one way is to focus on the appeal of having a home in “North Chennai’s tallest building”.

#5: Not having a call to action

For an ad to be effective, you must tell people what to do. Every ad should have a call to action. It can be as simple as “Click here to learn more”. Or you could attract attention and use more quirky statements such as “Yes, I’m in”, “I totally want it” or “Ok, I’m convinced”.

Take a look at this ad by American life coach and web TV personality Marie Forleo.

Marie Forleo

The call to action is cleverly done. One, it is bold and black which draws your focus. Two, the words “Yes please!” are just calling out to you.

Clicking on the ad would direct the customer to the free audio training to “build their dreams”.

Need help to launch an effective online advertising campaign? Give Adtiq a try, so you can craft targeted online ads and convert users to customers. 

Adtiq offers a step-by-step checklist to guide you to create relevant ads, by understanding the demographics of your target audience and defining your campaign objective.