Fighting Ad Fatigue in the Digital Realm


Think back to a few years ago when you wanted to record a show. Do you remember when you were watching a TV show live when suddenly it cut to a long block of commercials? Other than the Super Bowl, you probably didn’t pay much attention to those ads unless something really caught your eye.

Within that block of commercials, there was most likely one company in particular who replayed the same ad over and over again on multiple channels for months at a time (there’s always at least one!). While you may have paid attention to the ad the first couple times, you become immune to it and therefore zoned out during the commercial, left the room, or browsed your phone. As a consumer, this type of monotonous ad strategy does not make you want to be a customer of that brand. On the flipside, as a company, you probably are not getting the best return on investment (ROI) from the money and time spent on your ads.

Fast forward a bit to a time where television commercials are not as relevant as we’ve now entered the digital age. Everywhere you look people are on their phones, computers or devices. We are saturated with technology and perusing social media, news platforms, and more. As we become more inundated with information, we have become more immune to advertisements as well.

This term is referred to as “ad fatigue”, which is when your audience sees your ads so much to where they become bored or tired of them and stops paying attention. Ad fatigue becomes most noticeable when click through rates (CTR) begins to decline. CTR is the percentage of people visiting a web page who access a hypertext link to a particular advertisement (Google Dictionary). Even successful ads fall victim to ad fatigue so any company that has an ad strategy needs to have a plan of action to combat this.

Banner Blindness vs. Ad Fatigue

Ad fatigue is often confused with banner blindness. While they are in fact similar; there is a slight difference. Banner blindness describes how we have become immune to advertisements that we have the ability to ignore (or not see) them even if it is our first encounter. Compared to ad fatigue as explained above, banner blindness mostly occurs when the ad content isn’t strong.

Always make sure your advertisements are targeted with valuable, eye-catching content that resonates with your audience. Spending the time planning the ad strategy up front allows you to be proactive instead of reactive.

Recognizing Facebook Ad Fatigue

Facebook is one of the top social platforms for advertising and with that being said, probably a top platform for ad fatigued consumers as well. When running an advertisement on Facebook, be sure to check the “frequency” of the ad. Frequency is the average number of times each person saw your ad (Facebook). If the frequency number goes above three, it is time to think about switching up your content, even in subtle ways. One person most likely does not want to see the same ad multiple times, and it will result in less bang for your buck.

The same goes for a practice known as ad retargeting. As discussed in our blog article about using AdWords as part of a marketing strategy, ad retargeting is a cookie-based technology that follows your customers through the web.

Recognizing Retargeting Ad Fatigue

If your company is pursuing a retargeting strategy, you’ll want to make sure all your bases are covered. Since retargeting is based on people who have visited and interacted with your website, the audience pool will be significantly smaller. This means there is a greater chance of a high frequency.

However, do not be deterred by this. Retargeting will also bring you some of the highest conversion rates if executed correctly. This is because the audience being followed by your ads are more interested in your service or product. If you decide to use this tactic, try building ads around research reports or to a specific page on your website that will interest them based on how they interact with your site.

Combating Ad Fatigue Without Breaking the Bank

So now that we have talked about a few different instances of ad fatigue, let’s talk about how to solve for it. Think back to watching television ads again and put yourself in the shoes of the advertiser itself. If you became fatigued by their ad, the company would have no way of knowing you were uninterested or had seen it multiple times. The company also didn’t know the exact demographics they were reaching or a good measurement of ad performance. And don’t forget, it was also extremely expensive to produce a television ad let alone make changes to it.

Luckily, digital ads work much differently than television. Digital ads can cost as little or as much as you’d like and once they go live, you have access to real time demographic and performance data. Since everything is in real time, you are able to tweak ads as needed with no cost at any time of the day.

Make Text Changes

Simply rewording your ad could mean all the difference. Certain people respond to different variations so don’t be afraid to try something new if it’s not currently working. For example, if you are offering free financial services consultations, test the effectiveness of different words like complimentary, in-person, consultation, meeting and more. If you are offering a discount think of different ways to state it. For example, if an ad offering $1,000 off a service isn’t working try rewording it to state that clients will receive a 30% discount.

Don’t forget to look at your call to action. Most often it’s in the form of a button or link. Test text like click here, read now and get on the list to see what sticks.

Build a Library of Ads

If you are doing an ad campaign, swap out different ads during different points of your campaign. For example, if you are hosting a webinar about financial best practices, you might have three ads with different text and graphics. One may be announcing the webinar, the second may be asking people to claim their spots and the third could be a reminder and that a few spots have just opened up because of demand. Keep ads in a rotation to keep the message fresh but the brand constantly top of mind for the consumer.

Change Ad Colors or Imagery

When all else fails, take a look at ways you can change the color and image of an ad. Maybe changing a background color from red to blue can help bring a stale ad back to life. Perhaps you noticed your ad is resonating more with females than males so you swap the photo to show a woman instead of a man. There’s a lot of options to play around with here so have a plan of action when you’re ready to launch the ad. Refer back to the data once the ad is live and decide which path makes most sense to take.

Ad fatigue is inevitable and easy to fix. Never underestimate the power of data and doing some up front research about your target audience. While you can get ahead of it, there will eventually come a time when people have grown tired of your ad. Always know when to call it quits or when it’s time for a rebrand.


Interested in learning more about optimizing your digital ads? Contact Gate 39 Media