3 PPC Fails That Can Hurt Your Brand

In the PPC industry, there are some common best practices that all of us strive to follow: creating close ties between ad copy and landing pages, reviewing search queries and automatic placements, and avoiding over retargeting. We usually think about these strategies as ways to maximize our performance for our ads. But we don’t think about how not following these strategies can actually hurt the brands we’re advertising for.

Inconsistent Messaging

In PPC, we often say that continuing a headline or offer from ad copy to landing page is a lot like delivering on a promise. While not delivering on those promises can obviously hurt your performance, you could also become viewed as the brand that doesn’t deliver on those promises. Make it easy for your audience to connect the dots. If you have an offer in your ad, make it prominent on the landing page. The key isn’t simply whether you have your offer on the page; it has to be seen.

For example, let’s say your biggest offer is a 25 percent off discount. If someone clicks on the ad with that discount, then doesn’t see the 25 percent off messaging on the landing page, you’ve failed to deliver. In this situation, the potential customer may or may not purchase from you depending on lots of other factors, but the key is the missed connection in messaging. Especially if the 25 percent off deal required a code that needed to be found on the page. Over time, if you’re consistently failing at making these connections, your audience will subconsciously notice and you’ll start to become the company that doesn’t deliver on its messaging.

Subconscious Correlation

Similar to the above situation, ties can be made subconsciously over time. Whether it’s fishy search queries on the search network or shady sites on the display network, having your brand show up in questionable places can damage your brand image. Without meaning to, these problematic places people go online (and they definitely go there) may become tied to your brand in the audiences mind. Most Internet users still don’t fully grasp how online advertising works. So when they see your upstanding brand alongside lots of super crappy content, they assume you meant to be there.


Obviously the site in the image above is a bit of a gag. The website is actually intended to give advice on how to not make a terrible website, but it does help to prove my point. If this site was indeed as terrible as it looks, you wouldn’t necessarily want your brand logo showing up on it. Further still, assume the site’s content was extremely questionable (political, racial, etc.), you very much wouldn’t want your brand to show up there. Be sure you’re actively adding negative keywords to search campaigns and excluding reputation damaging placements on the display network to keep your brand image intact.

Retargeting Burn Out

We’ve all had an experience like the one in the video where we simply couldn’t shake an ad. The video might show the extreme of the situation, but that’s honestly how some people feel when being retargeted. They feel like they’re being stalked. It’s come to where retargeting seems to be the only experience people remember online anymore. Whenever I tell someone what I do, they respond with, “Oh, so you’re the reason I keep seeing those ads for X product I bought last year.” My answer is always, “Technically yes, but the person who’s running those ads isn’t doing their job correctly.” When retargeting people, put together a complete strategy to ensure you’re always adding value, limiting exposure, and rotating your audience. Check out this article for more.

These three examples aren’t the only way brands can damage themselves online. What do you think? How have you seen brands damage themselves with PPC ads?

Related reading