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How to Identify Ad Fatigue and 3 Ways to Fix It

By: Brendan McInerney

What is Ad Fatigue?

Is your ad performance starting to decline after a period of strong performance? Your campaigns could be experiencing ad fatigue. Ad fatigue refers to the feeling people get after a digital ad follows them everywhere they go online. If you’re in the digital marketing sphere, it’s not your fault—digital ads have become pervasive in recent years and audiences are oversaturated with too many ads on social media. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to identify and resolve ad fatigue. In this post, we’ll discuss the major factors that we have identified to have the biggest impact on ad fatigue.

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How to Know If Your Campaign is at Risk

Every ad you run will experience ad fatigue at some point no matter how much you spend. Ad fatigue can do more than annoy your audience, it can act as a silent killer by affecting the number of results your campaign gets and reducing your overall return on ad spends.

Here’s what to look for to determine if your ads have been plagued with ad fatigue:

Time & Budget

Time is a strong indicator of when an ad may have reached a saturation point. If an ad has been in rotation for longer than 90 days, it is likely that the majority of the targeted audience has already been exposed to it. Note that budget levels play a factor in ad fatigue as well. If your budget is $1,000 per month, the ad may need more time to run than you would need with a budget that is $50,000 per month. Having a larger budget means that you can reach a larger share of your audience at a faster rate than if you were at a lower spend.

Click-Through Rate

Click-through rate (CTR) is another indicator of ad fatigue. Though it can be hard to measure in programmatic display efforts due to a lower average CTR, it is more easily defined through paid social, search, native, and Google Display efforts.

When CTR begins to fall below a campaign average, this is an indicator that people are becoming blind or fatigued by the ad. At this point ads or audiences should be updated. For instance, say an ad that you have been running for several weeks was earning a CTR of 1%. Over time you begin to see this CTR decline. This decline is the result of the people who clicked your ad before and are not interested in clicking on your ad for a second time.


Dependent on which ad platform you are running in, you can pull a frequency report to determine a satisfactory equilibrium. It is a delicate balance: your frequency needs to be sticky enough to drive an action but also restrained enough so it doesn’t over-deliver. This frequency will vary depending on each client and vertical.


How to Remedy the Situation

Now that you know what you’re looking for, there are several options to remedy ad fatigue. Keep in mind that each campaign is different—a solution that worked for one ad may not work for the other.

Develop Testing Roadmaps

At Tallwave, our favorite approach to beating ad fatigue is through the development of testing roadmaps. These roadmaps generally describe the ad that you plan to run and when you will be implementing it. The roadmaps will show which ads will run in the following phases. Establishing testing roadmaps gives the advertiser more time to plan and sets each ad up for better measurement. By having an organized testing strategy, you’ll be able to pull data from your ads, allowing you to capitalize on what works and avoid what doesn’t.

Keep an Eye on Audience List Reviews

When an audience has been in rotation for too long you can over-serve that audience, which will result in higher instances of ad fatigue. Tweaking your audience based on product or service changes is a great way to maintain a healthy audience pool. Make sure to notate changes made in a separate document so you can better determine which audiences were successful and which ones were not. This will also help you keep track of the last time you updated your audience targeting.

Switch Up Your Media Channel Selection

If you find that your display efforts are not driving the performance you desire, you can leverage other channels like native, content, scroll ads, etc. Based on your media choice your ads will show in specific web placements within a page. For instance, a programmatic display ad will likely show on the left, right, bottom, top, and middle of the page. These ads often occur in the same spots and have a high likelihood of being overlooked. Native and content ads tend to appear alongside other content articles and offer a more eye-catching experience. Scroll ads tend to occur within the body of your content— they come into view while reading and are difficult to overlook.

Diversifying your media plan with these different buys will reduce ad fatigue through the delivery of eye-catching content and a more expansive set of audience networks.

Tired of your ad strategy? Our team of experts is ready to help.

Written by Brendan McInerney

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