7 Biggest Online Advertising Blunders

When it comes to wasting money on advertising, John Wanamaker, a marketing pioneer who died 100 years ago, famously said: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.”

But today with digital advertising everything is trackable. So, surely the age of advertising waste is a thing of the past.

“As the owner of a digital advertising agency, I’ve seen it all, from crazily successful campaigns to strategies that barely generated cricket noises,” says John Horn, CEO of StubGroup, who spends his days looking for ways to thrive at the cutting edge of the digital advertising world.

Horn and his agency have worked with brands including Cash America and Amerant Bank, and have generated over $350 million in revenue on behalf of their clients. He has also created marketing educational content consumed by over 90,000 students online.

Here are some of the mistakes he sees companies consistently make with their online advertising:

Expecting Results Too Quickly. “Advertising is not a magic bullet,” says Horn. “It takes time to craft the right message for the right audience and then figure out how to profitably scale. Smart advertisers move quickly but reserve patience to let strategies blossom and let the data dictate what is working.”

Not Tracking Performance. “Running an ad should not be a shot in the dark,” says Horn. “There are many ways to track which ad dollars are turning into bottom dollars, and we invest significant time with our clients creating and maintaining tracking systems so that we can make educated decisions about their campaigns.”

Cutting Costs By Not Working with Experts. “When advertising is your lifeblood, should you really be entrusting that to your nephew who is ‘good’ at Excel?” asks Horn. “I’ve seen countless businesses focus on saving a few bucks on management fees and thereby waste tens of thousands of dollars in ad spend.”

Investing In The Wrong Channels. “Right place, right time, right message should be the goal of your advertising,” advise Horn. “Choosing and testing the right channel mix for your business is crucial. Investing into Google search campaigns to advertise a product that no one is searching for isn’t going to work. Trying to build a lifestyle brand on Facebook for people who just want to renew their auto registration also probably isn’t going to work. Right channel, right message.

Ignoring Website User Experience. “You can spend all the money in the world on ads and not get what you want if you’re sending people from those ads to a bad website experience,” says Horn. “Sites with load times from the ‘90s, sites that turn finding information into a corn maze, and sites that assume visitors will automatically trust them. You must invest thought into your website to maximize your conversion rate.”

Lacking The Infrastructure To Handle Leads. “Many times, when a client complains that their ads aren’t working, we will dig into their systems and processes and learn that the ads are driving plenty of leads,” says Horn. “But the business is literally not calling those people back, or poorly trained salespeople are turning business away. Advertising is great at establishing an initial connection with a consumer, but there must be infrastructure in place to deliver and turn that lead into a long-term paying customer.”

Not Preparing In Advance for Sales. “One beauty of modern life is that we have a calendar that tells us what holidays and seasons happen when,” says Horn. “Unfortunately, the tyranny of the urgent often keeps advertisers from thinking about those days until they are just around the corner, which leads to half-baked sales plans and hours in which to construct ads which should have been created weeks ago.”

Horn says nobody is perfect, and that’s why we need to keep learning and growing. Hopefully these patterns of mistakes can help you examine your own digital advertising strategies and make sure that you’re maximizing your investment.