5 Examples of Bad Facebook Ads from Big Brands (And How You Can Avoid the Same Mistakes)


With organic reach on Facebook at an all-time low and recent changes to make its advertising platform more user-friendly than ever, there's no better time to start experimenting to see what a few ad dollars could do for your business on the site.

On desktop displays, News Feed ads are the most prominent and probably your best chance for success. Just make sure you learn from some of the poor choices made in the following examples from big brands...

1. Ineffective ad image

Facebook recommends News Feed ad images be 600 x 225 pixels in order to take advantage of the bigger preview mode. While EE's is that size, there is a ton of wasted white space and the post instantly screams "paid ad." A more natural, lifestyle-focussed shot would work much better. 

2. Ineffective ad copy

When you create an ad, Facebook allows you to edit all sorts of copy, from the main status to the link headline and description. 02 pretty much fails on all counts here. Despite a simple and direct message, the ad includes no call to action, a fail with the broken @prezzybox.com mention, and underused link copy.

3. Poor copy and image

Here, it appears that the image Udemy has used is not large enough to generate the bigger News Feed preview (as seen in the other examples in this post). That leaves an ad dominated by text. As it's offering a discount code, this could have featured in an image along with a call-to-action button.

4. No call to action button

I really like notonthehighstreet's copy and image, but they missed a trick by not including one of Facebook's "Shop Now" call to action buttons. The link copy could also be more appealing, instead of just listing the website address twice.

5. Poor URL copy

At first glance, this ad doesn't look too bad... a bit corporate for Facebook, maybe, but passable. However, take a closer look at the website it appears to be linking to: ADFARM.MEDIAPLEX.COM. Apparently this site is used by brands to track where visit are coming from, but a quick search also shows many people just assume it is spammy or malicious - not good! Changing the address to something like barclaycard.com/credit would work much better.


Facebook ads are one of the most powerful and cost-effective ways of reaching your audience. By avoiding some of the small mistakes like those above, their effectiveness can be significantly increased. Have you seen any poor Facebook ads from big brands? Feel free to share them over at the 500 Social Media Marketing Tips Facebook page!

Andrew Macarthy is a social media consultant and author of the #1 Amazon Web Marketing Bestseller, 500 Social Media Marketing Tips.

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