Hear ye, hear ye!
Gather ’round and I’ll tell you a tale
of a 300×250 ad that is quite full of fail.
They wrote the headline in some Olde English script.
That font is so terrible, it should be locked in a crypt.
Local Advertising Fail: Ye Olde Script-y Headline Font
Another print ad conversion
This is another example of a print ad being incorrectly shoved into an online display ad’s dimensions.
This isn’t breaking news to a lot of you, but it bears repeating: print ads don’t make for good online ads without massive modifications.
It’s too hard to read
Font legibility is something I could make an argument for in any medium, but it is especially bad here.
Script and Calligraphy fonts – especially the ones used in this local advertising fail example – are a terrible experience for the reader online.
(They’re actually really bad in many other instances also. I’m looking at you, local sign-makers.)
If you want people to be able to read and understand your ad, use fonts that are clear from a distance.
The Readability Test
It may sound counter-intuitive, but one good test is to take several steps back from your monitor and look at the ad.
(Even better, walk away completely and then come back.)
Were you able to clearly read and understand the headline of the ad from 3 to 5 feet away?
If not, then it is time for a redesign of that ad.
There’s too much information in this ad
While looking at this ad I began asking how much of the information does the reader really need to know before clicking or calling?
Here’s a breakdown of the elements:
- A local art league and
- A local department of parks and recreation are presenting
- An Event
- Where you can also buy things
- That has been around for 31 years
- On a specific date
- With specific hours
- And again the next day
- With different, yet specific hours.
- It costs $5 to go.
- If you bring the ad in you get $1 off.*
- You can call a phone number for more info
- Or you can click the ad.
- And of course here’s a logo.
- And a gold frame for decoration that I believe is meant to convey the theme of the event.**
* This is an online ad, so are you supposed to print the page you see it on? Or save to your phone?
** The theme of this event is not an art show despite what the gold frame says.
15 elements in a 300×250 ad space that is likely to be loaded onto a page with hundreds of other competing messages is not a good idea.
How to fix it
This type of ad should really only have a few basic elements, each with a specific job: to get the user to click or call.
- Headline (What) – The Event (bonus if you can write copy that will grab attention, but if you can’t – just state what it is.)
- Tagline (Why) – Why you should go to this event (you can switch these if you used the “why” in the headline – then use the tagline for why.)
- Additional info (When) – In this case, when the event takes place. Use Sat 2/22 & Sun 2/23 and forget listing the hours.***
- Call to Action (How) – Call [phone number] or Click for more info.
***admittedly, this could be considered as two elements, making for 5 total above.
Anyone can get additional info by calling or clicking. If that click goes to a landing page, the hours and other information could be listed, along with logos galore and maybe even pictures of various antiques.
Unfortunately, when I clicked this ad, I went to an event calendar with this and other events listed for the month of February.
I’m not just throwing rocks
I’d like to wrap things up by stating that I know what it is like for a print ad designer to be either forced to build an ad like this or just not know the best practices for online ads yet.
This is why I try to include suggestions on how to fix these ads with every post. My intention isn’t just to throw rocks, but to help people build better ads to support local businesses.
All of this is based solely on my opinion. Yours may differ. And that’s okay.
Do you have an advertising fail example?
Share it by leaving a comment below. It doesn’t have to be just a local advertising fail – any sort of fail will be considered.
If your example is chosen, I’ll write up a critique and credit you for submitting it. I’ll also include a link to your site or social media profile if you’d like.