The High Cost of Ad Fatigue and How to Combat It

4 Min Read

Ad fatigue is an internet epidemic. It can suddenly disable the effectiveness of any ad – no matter how clever, popular or successful it has been. In fact, many of its biggest victims are high-profile ads.

In the past, advertisers believed that the more your ad was seen, the better. In the digital age, however, the opposite is true. If the viewer frequency rate of an ad is too high it can spell disaster, especially if the same viewers are seeing your ad over and over again.

Ad Fatigue: An Expensive Epidemic

The more frequently an ad has been viewed, the higher its cost-per-click (CPC) goes up. Once viewer frequency reaches the next level, the CPC can go up by as much as 50 percent – which can be ruinous if the ad isn’t performing as it once was. In essence, you’re paying half again as much for something that’s probably performing half as effectively.

Cost isn’t the only factor to consider. On Facebook, ad fatigue can devalue your ads and cause their relevance score to drop. Facebook auctions cater to the ads that create the most value. This means that the more your ad’s CTR drops, the fewer auctions it can participate in – and as a result, your impression volume will drop as well.

Identifying Ad Fatigue

Ad fatigue isn’t difficult to spot. You can identify the beginning symptoms by making a check of your ad’s basic metrics. Here are some signs to tip you off that your ads have gotten too tired to perform.

A Higher-Than-Normal CPC Rate

This is one of the major signs of ad fatigue. It’s the first clue that your ad has been getting higher viewership – viewership that you might not need from that particular demographic anymore. A high view frequency generally means that viewers are seeing your ad as much as several times a day; and if so, they’re probably bored with it. If this higher CPC rate is coupled with lower performance numbers, such as a decreased click-through rate (CTR), you’ll know immediately that ad fatigue is the culprit.

As a rule of thumb, the average CPC rate on Facebook is $1.72, while the average CTR is 0.9 percent. Experts advise that a safe average CPC rate on Facebook is $1.25 to $1.50 – but it should come in at below $2 for most businesses.

Negative Feedback

On Facebook, viewers have the option to hide or block advertising content that they’re tired of seeing, and Facebook records each incident as negative feedback against your ad. When it happens too many times, it can affect your ad account, and you might have trouble getting ads accepted.

Time Marching On

Time is typically the enemy of online advertising. As a case in point, one marketing firm tracked its ad performance and found that, after little more than a month, the CPC rate was soaring while the performance rate had plummeted.

According to Facebook, ads shown three times or more have a tendency to decline in performance. Facebook recommends creating new ads – or refreshing creatives by adding new images or text to existing ads – about once a week. For other sites, it’s wise to apply the same type of approach. If an ad has run more than a week or two, it’s time to closely monitor it to make sure it’s still viable.

Three Steps for Preventing Ad Fatigue

Paying attention to CPC rates, reducing ad viewing frequency, monitoring ad duration and refreshing ad creatives every week or two are all effective in preventing ad fatigue; but in the end, it’s all about the audience. These next three tips are even more audience-centric and will help you cater more closely to your demographic.

1. Hyper-Target Your Ad Audience

Sometimes just targeting your audience isn’t enough; you have to hyper-target them. This type of super-segmentation can be done through analytics software tools. Likewise, retargeting is another great way to reach a highly specific audience, because it can recapture people who have already shown an interest in your product or service. One easy way to do this is to use retargeting software, which uses cookies to trace and track visitors to your site (whether they’ve left items in a shopping cart or just visited). Customized algorithm software can also help by segmenting your audience into low, medium and high engagement groups.

2. Use Video

Recent internet studies show that a third of all time spent online is in watching videos. More specifically, 46 percent of viewers take some sort of action after they’ve seen a video ad, and the average viewer spends more than 16 minutes watching video ads every month. One more viable statistic – when you use video marketing on social media, viewers are 10 times more likely to engage with that video in some way. And there’s another plus: video typically has a much lower CPC rate.

The numbers tell the story: Viewers love video. Here’s another tip: once your video has been up for a couple of weeks, consider turning it into a fun GIF, which can be shared and posted among your viewers.


3. Rotate Your Ads

You can surprise your audience and keep things interesting for them by changing out ads unexpectedly every couple of days. Even a simple ad with a single attractive graphic can look fresh and appealing when it’s used in constant rotation with several other ad creatives.

Ad fatigue might seem inevitable; but it doesn’t have to be. By paying attention, taking these steps and always keeping your audience in mind, you can prevent ad fatigue from wiping out your marketing campaigns.