Ad Fatigue: How to find it and optimize your ad creatives

Published by Dina Taitelbaum on

catch that fatigued ad on time cover image

Ad fatigue happens to the best of us. 

To oppose a popular belief, ad fatigue is actually a good thing if caught on time. In fact, the more popular your creative is the more likely it is to go into fatigue. Therefore, instead of focusing on avoiding ad and/or audience fatigue you should focus on ways to recognise it. Once you can catch fatigue (before it starts costing you) then you have opportunities for optimization. As a result, your campaign with fatigue can outperform others because you’ve made appropriate adjustments to it.

However, the more assets you have the harder it is to recognise ad fatigue. Cross-channel fatigue concepts are even more likely to be missed. 

So what do you do? 

The trick is to figure out that sweet spot when your audience has seen your ads and brand enough times to finally convert but not get tired of you and go into fatigue. To do that, we’re happy to share our suggestions for recognizing ad fatigue. 

Catching Ad Fatigue On Time

Facebook for Business offers ad fatigue recognition using the Delivery column or comparing your frequency and cost per result columns. If both of the later values are increasing, it should indicate ad fatigue. In the delivery column, you’ll see a status called “Creative Fatigue”. 

However, this delivery column feature is limited to ad sets with single ads and does not include dynamic ads, their creatives, carousel ads, and automated app ads. In addition, it will not be available for ad sets with the Reach, Engagement, Brand Awareness, and Video Views objectives.

In short, there are a lot of opportunities to miss ad fatigue if you’re using Facebook analytics alone. 

Many marketers create automation rules to spot ad fatigue. Here’re some of the common practices:

  • Change frequency condition (many recommend a max frequency of 2.4)
  • Increasing impressions minimum
  • Broadening audience
  • Audience exclusion (for example, those who interacted or liked your page, engaged with content, website traffic, app audiences, existing customers)
  • Optimize for daily unique reach
  • Limiting audience overlap (pro level because it’s hard to identify)

Here’s a rule example implementing the frequency, impressions limits and custom time schedule:

Facebook automated rule setup example

However, even setting up custom rules might not be enough because the main cause of fatigue is not refreshing your ad creatives.

In simple words, people are either not responding to specific creative elements, messages aka their concepts. In both scenarios, brands that aren’t refreshing their ad content risk hurting the experience your audience has with your brand. 

Get ad fatigue alerts directly in your inbox CTA

After all, your brand is the one getting hurt when your target audience is getting annoyed, tired, or bored from your message/visual. Keep your eye on trends, subscribe to marketing newsletters, or simply stay in the loop on relevant social conversations to always learn “what’s in”. Making sure your ad is relevant makes it non-intrusive and that will increase its FB performance. 

In fact, more likely than not, your audience will be happy to see an ad from you that popped up just at the right time, channel, and with the right offer!

Identify fatigued ad concept

Firstly, let’s identify what is an ad concept on the creative level:

  • Same image / video elements (colors, characters, emotion, frame pace, etc)
  • Messaging (primary text, value proposition, CTA)
  • Timing 

Identifying your ad creative concepts helps you understand how to analyse your fatigue analysis and optimize ads to bring up their performance. 

This requires a systematic approach to creating and testing ads and their sets. For instance, organizing (and naming) your ad sets by concepts could help you identify which concept goes fatigue. 

For the visual elements, test your ad sets by grouping concept elements together. This means if you have a set of images with white background, a woman, and let’s say, your product close up – that’d be one visual concept set. 

fb ad set naming by concept

In our example, we named all ads with the same creative concept “Nes images”.

For messaging, ad sets could describe different ESPs and USPs, separate sets for CTAs and so on. The idea is to understand which combination of a message, CTA and visual perform the best. 

Speak about getting two birds at once! Not only would you be able to identify what works best but this (quite tedious) planning process would also help you identify the ad fatigue concept. 

In addition, always remember to be relevant. If you’re running holiday ads, odds are in a few weeks your best performing ad will go fatigued because frankly, people are tired of your holiday offer/design and it’s no longer relevant.

Finally, as I mentioned earlier, noticing current advertising trends is always a good idea. Have you noticed lately ads that look like selfies filmed on an iPhone? Yep, that’s a trend and it works. Today, people want to see real content, by real people – effortless and non-invasive. 

Implementing an ad fatigue alert

As an ad creative analysis AI, Pudding is also creating alerts to notify you when your ad is in fatigue. Like many other aspects of your business, AI implementation can save you a load of work, like the processes described above for ad fatigue recognition.

Whether you’re a reports or a full platform user, you will receive a notification when your ad or its audience has gone fatigued with all the supporting data, insights, and optimization suggestions. This means, you can identify which elements or messaging concept is no longer working for you without carefully AB testing all variants and separating them in appropriate ad sets.

ad fatigue graph example

In the above example, we see that on May 15th, this ad dropped in CTR while its budget remains the same (and even goes up by May 18th). This tells us that this particular ad has been fatigued for the past 3 days. 

Here’s how we see it from our end, see that little red alarm next to the ad creative?

fatigue alert on dashboard

This indicates the alarm which suggests you should take a look at the insights report to see which elements we suggest you keep using and which you should avoid, change or tweak.

use/avoid from

In your ads creative report, these insights will look similar to this: 

fatigue alert example

Notice how the AI is basing the suggestions on percentages? Those are based on all your ad creative data. In this example, we see that the “winter is coming” message is not working and neither is the “70%” sale offer. On the other hand, the fact that the text is on solid background is good.

This is how you’d be offered fatigue optimization for your ads creatives in a nutshell. 

Proactively Detect Creative Fatigue CTA

Optimizing fatigued ad creatives

Now that you’ve been able to figure out why certain ads went fatigued, whether you did it yourself or with, you need to tweak your creative and see that it’s performance went back up. 

How do you know what to do?

Well, with Pudding it’s simple – we will give you actionable suggestions. Doing it yourself, again, requires a few optimization steps.

Firstly, take a look at the ad sets and concepts that are working well for you. Try to identify their creative elements and messaging to understand which are resonating with your audience – why are they performing well?

Then, you should be able to create a list of “use” elements. However, make sure to avoid bias by analyzing several well-performing ads, not just the top one.

These are the elements you want to implement in your fatigued ads. Our suggestion is to add them in one at a time, so you can learn which had the most impact. 

This process will help you learn not only how to increase your FB ads performance but also how to communicate with your audience. Which value proposition works for them? What CTA drives action? How do they want to see your product, close up and alone or in a lifestyle manner?

Pro tip: Be aware of your bias. While you identify your well-performing creative elements, you can also note to yourself which elements you are NOT using. This can help you come up with new ideas for future campaigns. For example, if you see you only use product close-ups it may be worth your while to add a new campaign with lifestyle creatives, showing off your product in action. 

To conclude…

Recognition of ad fatigue is definitely not something you should ignore because of the benefits its optimization could offer:

  • Prolonging high FB ad performance of your ads
  • Understanding what elements and messaging work with your audience
  • Making sure your audience isn’t tired of your brand
  • Keeping the budget for ads that perform well

The later benefit can be put under question, simply because the process of identifying ad fatigue could cause you to create more ad variations thus, higher spending. Of course, that’s if you’re not using our fatigue alerts.

So how do you increase your FB ad performance? Learn from your ad fatigue optimisation. Figure out which concepts are working for you, what your audience wants to hear from your brand and which offers resonate with them.

Monitor current trends and tweak your ad creatives accordingly, keeping in mind a non-intrusive approach. Your audience wants to see your ads, but don’t bombard them with everything you’ve got!