In Defense of Bad Ads

Why Low Production Quality Ads Work and When to Use Them

Creative Advertising Strategy

Thanks to digital production tools, it has never been easier to make a gorgeous, professional advertisement — so why do so many ads look like “bad ads?”

For a small brand or start-up, the advantage of a low-budget, easy-to-produce option makes sense. But big names are using this style of stripped-down ad creative, too.

We’re going to break down why you see so many ads with low production value and whether it’s a strategy you should consider.

Reason 1: People Don’t Like Ads

If you make advertisements for a living, we’ve got bad news: People don’t like ads.

When asked, only 12% of Americans believe that ads can be enjoyable. It’s no wonder people are investing in ad blockers, upping their privacy settings, and leveling their digital subscriptions up to premium: the only good ad is no ad at all.

It’s part of why we’re seeing trends toward influencer marketing and user-generated content: people are exhausted by the flood of ads, so ads are going undercover.

“Bad ads,” or as we would prefer to call them, low-production-quality ads, are just another piece of this reaction to consumer ad exhaustion.

Reason 2: People Are Listening to Data — Not Their Industry Accolades

Before the era of digital marketing, advertisers had little hard data on the effectiveness of their work. A “good” ad was one that pleased the client and earned accolades from industry colleagues.

Now, with the robust data of online advertising, marketers can see exactly how their audience is reacting — and that data doesn’t always agree with the conventional wisdom.

When your audience doesn’t like ads, creative that looks like an organic piece of content can win on performance. If you’re seeing a brand double-down on stripped-down media, it’s likely because that’s the style of creative that’s yielding results.

Reason 3: Those Bad Ads? It’s An *Aesthetic*

Not every ad needs to make a brand look sleek, glamorous, and luxurious. In fact, for many political candidates, that is the opposite of the message they want to send.

Screenshot of two bad ad examples from AOC in the Facebook ad library

This is part of why you’re seeing so many political candidates take informal selfie videos, asking for your support. If it looks like a selfie video your uncle might post on Facebook, it feels relatable.

And this trend is bigger than politics. Other corporate brands are doing their best to blend in with meme culture or appear organic.

So, Does This Mean I Should Make “Bad” Ads?

Let’s be clear: Bad ads are ads that fail to achieve your client’s goals.

If your goal is to project a slick, glamorous brand, a low-quality production style probably won’t work for you.

If you’re trying to project an approachable brand, it might be worth a shot.

Try adding some of these low-quality production ads into your creative rotation and test to see how it performs on your most critical metrics. Selfie videos and wacky memes may be what actually drives your sales and donations — but you’ll never know until you test it. It’s why we test ad creative with all sorts of different looks to see what works well for our clients.

John James selfie ad outdoors in Michigan John James produced selfie ad to donate in the final strech

Here’s what really makes a good ad: A persuasive call-to-action aimed perfectly at your target audience. What that ad creative looks like — well, you’ll just have to experiment to find out.

Want a digital advertiser who will think outside the box and find the perfect creative for you? IMGE can help. Get in touch with us today.

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