Why Ads are Hard to Make

And What You Can Do About It
Brett Friedman

Making a good ad is hard. You need to produce an image/word combo that takes an uninterested, possibly anti-ad media consumer from unaware of your company to grabbing their wallet for payment in minutes, if not seconds. Not to mention, you have a budget, a timeline, and a goal often set by a board, investors, or teammates with unrelentingly high expectations.

We asked twenty advertisers where they struggled in their ad creation processes and highlighted ten of their responses to get closer to the core of this problem.


Chane Steiner
, CEO, Crediful

"In my opinion the hardest part is getting the copy just right. You need it to grab the attention of the reader, to make them identify with what it describes, and motivate them to click through to the site."

Sean Nguyen, Director, Internet Advisor

"The number one challenge to making an ad: Besides the production challenges that come with making your own ad, probably the most difficult thing to do is to come across as authentic. Until you make a few ads, you have no idea how things such as lighting, camera angle, zoom, etc. affect the impression people get after watching your ad. My advice is to try and keep things simple in the beginning to avoid coming off as cheesy or insincere. Then, as you get better at making ads, you can adopt some more advanced filmmaking techniques and create ads without sacrificing the authenticity you need to connect with your audience and inspire action."

Julie Bonner, Marketing Director, FreeFall Aerospace

"I find that the hardest thing when creating an ad is developing concise messaging that is intriguing enough for your audience to act on."

Zach Boyette, Founder, Galactic Fed

"The biggest challenge about making ads is combining the best practices for creating ads, with something that is truly unique. Especially on social channels like Facebook and Instagram, the BEST performing ads out there are funny, clever, and genuinely interesting with a specific point of view and clear concept. But all of the blogs and how-to articles about creating ads just focus on using the right colors, text, or imagery. You’re competing with thousands of other ads that the user will see in a single day, so you need to do more than choose the right font to be memorable."

Morgan Taylor, Chief Marketing Officer, LetMeBank

"I find the biggest challenge isn’t anything technical, it’s getting that spark of an idea that can become a great campaign."

Krista Ek, Paid Social Media Specialist, Stryde

"I think my biggest challenge when building an ad is how much information to provide in the ad itself. I don't want to overwhelm the viewer with too much information that they don't need or care about at that moment, but I don't want to miss an opportunity to answer a question or solve a problem that they might have.

It's tricky to find the balance between keeping the ad simple and digestible, while also providing value to the viewer.

You can't put everything in the ad creative because then it's often unpleasant to look at or hard to understand, but you can't always put everything in the ad copy because a lot of people don't really read it (and they especially won't read it if the creative doesn't peak their interest)."

Jessica Rose, CEO, Copper H2O

"For us, the hardest part about creating ads is knowing what will resonate with our audience. This requires making decisions about what will motivate consumers and what will help differentiate our offering from others.

Quincy Smith, Founder, ESL Authority

"Making it look good - I can usually get the title and copy to body to read well with help from my team (or by looking at competitors) but the design aspect is really hard for us.  We don’t have a designer on staff and for platforms like Facebook that require something super visual it’s hard to justify the time to make it look professional OR determine when it’s worth paying our designer.  Even copying other ads only gets you so far as it needs to be on brand and related to YOUR message."

Authenticity, novelty, design, copy, information density... there are dozens of components that make up a good ad and all of them cause problems for advertisers. Some teams have great designers but struggle with copy, others have award-winning copywriters, but struggle with design. Different companies have trouble with idiosyncratic parts of the ad building process. One thing is clear: the core challenge of making a good ad is the ability to effectively use diverse skills for a single goal. With so many parts of the ad system, there are just as many points to get wrong.

Matthew Rogers, Editor & Researcher at Mango Matter, says it well

"There are so many variables that make or break an ad... It's not just the copywriting that attracts attention, visuals matter, as does the formatting, as well as the strategy.

Fortunately, there's a solution applicable to any team: testing. Matthew continues,

" I think the hardest part is getting over the initial hurdle of spending the money required to get first-hand data. Without testing, any advertising and marketing recommendation is theory. Therefore, a healthy budget is required to collect data for further analysis in order to produce a winning ad for a particular audience."

Jessica adds,

"While this process is informed by existing knowledge and research about our audience, sometimes it needs to go through various data-informed iterations before we get it right. It can be time consuming, but if done diligently it can be worth it."

Tisha Shelley, Director of Paid Traffic at Conklin Media reiterates,

"I find holding your nerve when it comes to copy combined with testing multiple variations over and over and relying on that data to help you improve your success rate is the only way to see consistent results."

If you can afford the emotional buffer to invest money into testing until you get results, you can build a stronger framework for consistently good ads. If you're great at design, test copy. If you're great at copy, test design. Rather than wasting time making decisions on how an ad is best composed, run small tests to find out for sure what works and what doesn't. Then scale what works.

As an added bonus, creative data you collect from testing informs your next tests, compounding your successes and de-risking you from your failures. Plus it makes you better at your current weaknesses, and gives you an advantage over a substantial portion of your competition who continue to struggle with marketing (since most companies have not discovered creative data yet).

If that all sounds interesting to you, download our guide for an easy to implement, in-depth walk-through of multivariate testing. To automate the whole process, sign up for Marpipe's beta!

For all twenty full responses, hit Sources!

How to Run a Multivariate Test

The Beginner's Guide

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How to Run a Multivariate Test
The Beginner's Guide

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