5 Commonly-Made (But Often-Ignored) Facebook Ad Creative Mistakes

facebook ad creative mistakes

I saw a post the other week from a business owner, calling for social media advertising platforms to be heavily regulated or shut down. The reason for his demand?

Because his ads never work – and he’s wasted a truckload of money on failed campaigns. On the one hand, I sympathise with this business owner’s plight. I mean, no one likes to invest their cash and see no return on their investment. 

But the fact of the matter is this.

If your ads don’t work, you can’t blame Facebook for gobbling up their ad budget. And here’s why…

First of all, plenty of business owners make a truckload of money from their Facebook ad campaigns. So it’s simply not the case that Facebook is an evil money-sucking machine.

Second of all, there are never any guarantees in advertising. Not on TV. Not in magazines. And not on social media. Advertising requires us to make best guesses based on past experience and industry best practices.

It means you can always improve your odds of success by putting in the necessary groundwork. But you can never be certain whether or not a campaign will smash the lights out. If certainty is what you need, then it’s best to get out of the marketing game altogether. 

And third of all, almost every advertiser who grumbles that their ads are not performing is making one or more of these 5 critical mistakes. And it’s these mistakes which create 99% of the world’s Facebook ad drama…not the ad platform. 

1. They go broad instead of narrow

One of Facebook’s superpowers is its ability to target hyper-qualified prospects – thanks to its scarily smart algorithm. And yet, 99% of Facebook advertisers fail to leverage this power when they run their ad campaigns.

Let me explain. Ad campaigns that work best are the ones which speak specifically, and exclusively to the smallest targetable audience on Facebook. For example, the average coffee seller on facebook might target anyone aged 20-65.

It means their visual creative, their audience targeting and their ad copy will be broad, vague and generic. When coffee sellers should be ultra specific – and run different ad creative and copy to distinct sub-groups like:

  • Mums with young children
  • Office workers  
  • Health-conscious coffee drinkers
  • Coffee snobs 
  • Entrepreneurs
  • Health workers
  • Etc etc

The list of Facebook’s target audiences for a coffee seller are endless and exciting! Which is why it’s a huge mistake to run broad ad campaigns – that aim to speak to everyone in the world all at the same time. 

2. They don’t REALLY know their ideal client avatar

When I ask most business owners to tell me about their ideal client avatar, they usually give me a list of demographic characteristics like their age, their marital status or where they live.

And while these are useful things to know about your customers – here’s the reality. If all you know is demographics, it’s practically impossible to create high-performing Facebook ads. 

So what should you know about your ideal client avatar? Well, when thinking about your avatar I want you to ask yourself these 6 questions:

  • What is their biggest challenge right now? And how is that challenge affecting their day to day life? 
  • What is their no.1 desire? And what impact will achieving that desire have on their everyday life?
  • What solutions have they tried before?
  • What frustrated them about those solutions?
  • What beliefs or fears might stop your ideal client from buying your product or service? 
  • What feature of your product or service is most appealing to your ideal client? And how does that feature enhance their life? 

These are the questions that you need to answer before you run your ad campaigns. Trouble is, most advertisers are not clear on the answers to the questions. And that’s the reason why their Facebook ads don’t work.

3. Their ad creative looks like advertising

When I work with clients there’s one thing they get really hung up on. It’s the idea of showcasing their brand in their ad creative. The result? 

Most Facebook ads look super smart and super polished. But 99% of the time, that’s not the way Facebook ads should look. The reason is simple. 

Social media audiences are not scrolling through the newsfeed looking for stuff to buy. They’re looking for connection…entertainment…or perhaps information.

And so, the minute most audiences spot something that looks obviously like an ad – their ad blinkers come up, and they ignore the message. 

Which is why it’s essential for most of your ad images and videos to look like organic content – so it blends in with all the other content in the newsfeed. And yes, in many cases that does mean:

  • Removing your logo
  • Avoiding product shots 
  • Replacing on-brand colours with eye-catching palettes designed to stop the scroll

4. Their ad copy focuses too heavily on product features

As well as glossy, brand-centric imagery – there’s one more surefire giveaway that signals to cold audiences when an ad is an ad. 

It’s when advertisers open their ad copy with the product’s features or special offer…rather than focusing on a product’s core benefit. 

For example, this kind of feature-driven ad is pretty typical of most campaigns:

facebook ad creative mistakes

When this kind of benefit-driven ad works way better: 

facebook ad creative mistakes

Notice the difference? The top ad leads with the product. And the bottom ad leads with the transformation. Which do you think is more appealing to the target customer? 

5. They confuse brand ads with direct response ads

Ok, now this is where I climb up on my soapbox and have a little ad rant. You see, often advertisers get confused between brand advertising and direct response advertising.

So here’s a little definition for you:


Brand advertising = advertising campaigns designed to keep a product top of mind, so that consumers are most likely to choose to purchase that product when the opportunity to buy arises at some point in the future. 

E.g. TV advertising of Kellog’s cornflakes

Kellog’s know you won’t race to the shop the instant you see their ad. But they want you to desire their product more than their competitors when you’re in the supermarket.

Brand advertising results in slower conversions – but is designed to increase brand loyalty and boost a product’s perceived value.

You’ll see this type of advertising on TV, radio, glossy magazines, newspapers etc. It’s also the type of advertising most people are familiar with. 


Direct response advertising = advertising campaigns designed to trigger an immediate action from the prospect. This could be visiting a website, opting into a free offer, purchasing a product.

The goal of direct response advertising is to convert attention into leads or sales the instant a prospect engages with the ad.   

E.g. a Facebook ad selling a $47 masterclass 

The advertiser wants you to stop what you’re doing and buy now. Not later. Brand loyalty is established after the consumer has received and consumed the product. 

You’ll see this type of advertising on Facebook, infomercials, niche magazines, advertorials, email, webinars etc. 

Not surprisingly, most consumers are less familiar with DR advertising. Plus, it comes with a reputation for being at the grubbier end of the advertising industry. Which could be the reason why a lot of business owners are so confused about what their ads should look like. 

Now that you’re clear on the difference between brand advertising and direct response, let me explain how most Facebook advertisers think about their ads. 

Most advertisers believe that their Facebook ads should look like the brand ads they’re used to seeing in magazines and on TV. But they expect direct response-style instant leads and sales. 

Which I can categorically tell you – ain’t gonna happen. It’s why I encourage all my clients to shift their mindset away from their vision of running beautiful, brand-centric ad campaigns. And instead get comfortable with direct response style advertising – which looks and sounds completely different. 


Now that you know the 5 biggest mistakes Facebook advertisers make with their ad campaigns – I want you to take a minute to check your own ad campaigns. Are you:

  • Going broad instead of narrow? 
  • Answering the wrong questions about your ideal client avatar?
  • Running ads that look too much like ads?
  • Focusing too heavily on features instead of benefits?
  • Confusing brand advertising with direct response advertising?

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, it could be the reason why your ads are not delivering the results you desire. 

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