3 Epic Advertising Failures

This is not really a case study but we thought it was just as factual and just as interesting!

This is the story of what we found when we started to work with 3 actual, real-life Google Ad accounts.

We never know what we might discover, but neglect or lack of knowledge is particularly surprising when the Ad accounts are professionally managed.

Usually, the results can be improved, but in some cases, what we find astonishes us. These are three of those cases.

Law Office Wastes 3 Years

A small, regional, three-partner law office had been spending $500 per month for a period of over three years when we met them. Every time someone clicked on one of their ads, they went to a domain name that no longer existed. The domain name was defunct and had changed shortly after the advertising campaign was launched.

If someone was genuinely putting an effort into managing their advertising, they would have found a problem any time they looked into the account.  The professional manager the firm had hired, Hibu, didn’t notice for over 3 years! When confronted with our findings, Hibu denied they made a mistake and denied ignoring the account. They said the ads were being forwarded to the new domain.

We were able to prove to our client that forwarding ads to a different domain than what’s specified in the ads is illegal and not possible in Google Ads.  Our new client was furious with Hibu. Three years of zero response after spending thousands of dollars on advertising.

Travel-Related Company Wastes Thousands of Dollars

A small travel-related tour business had the word Nova as part of their name.  They had been spending $1,000 per month during the tourism season for a period of four years, which added up to $25,700 in total.

They were confident that the professional advertising managers – the same people that designed their website – were working toward optimizing their advertising campaigns. They were very angry with their website design company when I was able to show them that almost 100% of the advertising budget had been spent on keywords containing “Nova Scotia”, one of Canada’s ten provinces.

In fact, 75% of the ad budget was spent on one keyword – Nova Scotia!  The actual location of the business was nowhere near Nova Scotia.  It was thousands of miles away.

The account had never been managed at all, or those glaring errors would have certainly been discovered.  The “managers” set up the account and let it run wild. Over $25,000 was completely wasted.

Business Makes Very Poor Decision

Another travel-related lodging business in the tropics was sold to a new owner.  The new owner asked us to look into the business’s Google Ad account and offer an assessment. We investigated the account and found that the entire budget, approximately $5,000 USD per month, was being spent on maps of the tropical country.  This was not an error, just a bad decision in our opinion because it didn’t drive any revenue. 

The owner felt that the goodwill gesture of offering a free map would somehow help generate new business.  The ads did not contain any calls to action of any sort.  There was really nothing to tell the people downloading the maps that the lodging business was supplying the maps.  No sales were recorded because eCommerce tracking was not set up.

Anyone could click on the ad then download the map with no requirement to provide an email address that would have at least allowed for some follow-up marketing attempts. Nothing was asked, and nothing was gained except thousands of people downloaded a map for free with no strings attached.

It was a colossal waste of $10s of $1,000s of dollars.  Google likely didn’t even send them a thank you card.

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