What is ad fatigue and how to prevent it

Published Jan 9 2024 4 minute read Last updated Jul 11 2024
ad fatigue
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  • Thomas Frenkiel
    Written by Thomas Frenkiel

    Thomas has over 10 years of marketing experience. After working in media and SEO agencies for 8 years, he joined Funnel in 2022.

  • Tommy Albrecht
    Reviewed by Tommy Albrecht

    Performance Marketing Manager at Funnel

  • Lee Riley
    Reviewed by Lee Riley

    A Performance Marketing manager at Funnel, Lee has 10 years of experience in digital marketing. He has a proven history of working with data analytics and building strategic solutions, mostly within agency roles.

Thomas Frenkiel Tommy Albrecht Lee Riley
Thomas Frenkiel Tommy Albrecht Lee Riley

We’ve all been there before (especially as marketers). You see a shiny new ad for the first time. It’s clever and looks great. You might even wish you had come up with that creative yourself. But then you see it again. And again. And again.

Over time, what started as a source of inspiration turns into an unwelcome guest, continually intruding upon your space. This is the familiar scenario of ad fatigue.

Understanding this phenomenon is crucial for marketers. That's why we've consulted with two experienced PPC specialists, gathering insights to guide you through recognizing and addressing ad fatigue. With their expertise, we aim to equip you with effective strategies to keep your campaigns fresh and engaging.

What is ad fatigue?

Ad fatigue is what happens when your audience sees the same ad too many times. The creative no longer resonates with your audience. In turn, this triggers platform algorithms to consider the ad as stagnant and limiting its ability to find new users who have not yet been exposed to it. 

To be clear, ad fatigue doesn't necessarily mean people have gotten tired of your brand. They might really like your brand, but they are tired of seeing that one single image or creative over and over. It's not you. It's the ad.

It’s kind of like that houseguest. While you might be happy to see a relative or old friend at first, their stay might begin to get on your nerves the longer it goes on. Imagine your in-laws spending two months in your one-bedroom apartment. After week two, space is starting to become an issue. Their habits start affecting your usual routine.

However, if they changed things up (say, by washing the dishes or adjusting their habits), it may be just the variation you need to again welcome them into your home with open arms. 

You can use this idea to combat ad fatigue while improving your brand recognition.

How to recognize when ad fatigue occurs

It will become pretty obvious when ad fatigue occurs. Suddenly, your paid ads, content marketing, and other strategies fail to engage audiences. The audience will stop paying attention and interacting with your advertising campaigns – and the data will show it.

You'll see your key performance indicators (KPIs) slip. Pay close attention to your ad's:

  • Click-through rate: People don't click on ads once they get bored with them.
  • Clicks: Your ads don’t see the clicks and engagement they used to. (Note: this may be caused by other issues beyond simply ad fatigue, too).
  • Conversions: If you oversaturate and annoy people with your ad(s), they start to become annoyed, leading to less spending on your product or service.
  • Frequency: As we mentioned above, ad fatigue may trigger the platform algorithms to display your ad less frequently. 
  • View rate: If you are running video ads, a declining view rate can suggest that the audience is losing interest, potentially due to repeated exposure to the same ad.

Expect to see other areas of campaign performance falter, too. Customer acquisition costs and cost per conversion will increase while return on ad spend will likely fall. Start exploring new creatives that can reduce ad fatigue as soon as you notice any of these potential triggers.

Ad fatigue occurs at different rates depending on the channel

The number of times your audience sees an ad contributes to when they experience fatigue. Some ad channels bombard audiences with the same ads. Others spread out their ads to improve audience engagement.

The unwelcome houseguest becomes unwelcome because they come by too often. The same applies to advertising.

On some channels, ad fatigue occurs after a couple of weeks. For example, if you run a campaign that targets a small audience on TikTok, people might experience ad fatigue pretty fast. After all, TikTok is showing them the same ad multiple times a day. 

You probably won't have that experience on LinkedIn, though, because the professional social media platform makes its ads less intrusive. You can continue to run the same creatives on LinkedIn for a long time without reaching ad fatigue.

Four tips to avoid ad fatigue

So, how do we go about making this guest more appealing? How can you minimize ad fatigue – or even overcome ad fatigue – so your audience feels engaged? 

1. Closely monitor the most important metrics

Closely monitoring the most important metrics tells you when ad fatigue has set in with your audience. Ideally, you can monitor clicks, click-through rates, engagements, conversions, and other metrics to combat ad fatigue before it interferes with your audience's enjoyment.

If you see a KPI moving in an unwanted direction, consider the following tips: 

  • Broaden the audience for the ads
  • Run multiple ads at the same time so the platforms can rotate among them. Use at least 5 on LinkedIn, between 3-5 for META (Facebook and Instagram), and aim for 10-20 on TikTok
  • Give a creative refresh to high-performing ads so they keep moving customers through the sales funnel

Brainstorm with people in your team about ways you can renew interest in current ads and apply new techniques to future ad campaigns.

2. Consider frequency capping or broaden your target audience

Not all ad platforms offer frequency capping, but you should consider taking advantage of it when possible. Facebook and Google Ads, for example, let you control your ad frequency to drive message recall and prevent people from getting bored.

Optimal ad frequency varies depending on the channel you use and the size of your audience. Ad fatigue occurs more often in smaller audiences.

If you notice you are getting high frequency too fast, consider broadening your audience. 

3. Develop new creatives (with the same core message)

You can also turn your core message into new creatives that grab the viewer's attention. 

What if you enjoyed your houseguest because they told great jokes, but then they ran out of new things to say? It wouldn't take long before you wanted them to leave. If they kept coming up with new, creative ideas, they would earn more of your goodwill.

4. Use dynamic ads

Dynamic ads look like regular, static ads. Each time you refresh the page, you get a slightly different version to combat banner blindness and other forms of ad fatigue.

With dynamic ads, you create a template and a library of creatives that can fit into the template. When the ad loads, it pulls images, text, and other assets from the library. They change often, so people don't get tired of them.

Balance is key

Building a strong brand often requires remaining consistent across different ads, which helps you tell the same story in various ways.

Keep in mind that you might get tired of the ads long before your audience does. Don't assume that your audience feels the same as you, and remember that they haven't spent weeks or months designing the ads.

Mark Ritson writes about this in Marketing Week, so you should feel free to learn from his experiences. The most important thing to know, however, is that you should rely on metrics to tell you when ad fatigue sets in among your audience. This isn't the time to listen to your intuition.

Monitoring ads and marketing campaigns becomes a lot more successful when you choose a platform that connects to multiple data sources, keeps information in a centralized location, and gives you a simple dashboard to work from. 

Once you have a platform that supports your efforts through data-driven insights, you're on your way to fighting ad fatigue.


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