You Wouldn’t Drink Spoiled Milk … Your Ad Creative Has a Shelf Life Too

Written by Tim Edmundson


You’ve done it! You’ve designed the perfect ad creative for your brand and it’s driving conversions like a champ. Since your creative is working so well now, chances are it will continue to perform that way forever right? Wrong.

Even the best ad creative gets stagnant over time and loses it’s effectiveness to drive performance. So before your creative starts to slow down, here are some tips on what you can do to keep your ads fresh and the conversions flowing.


Banner blindness is the phenomenon where users will unknowingly ignore your ads. While it is tempting to find one ad that works and to stick with it, it may do more harm than good in the long run. Users will tire of seeing the same ad over and over, thus limiting its effectiveness and dropping your performance.

So what causes banner blindness? It’s a combination of things, but mainly it comes down to ads that are boring, irrelevant, distracting, and worst of all too repetitive. The vast majority of ads on the internet fall into the ‘bad ad’ category — you simply need to take the blinders off (or your ad blocking software) to notice it. Go to one of your favorite sites, and look around. I bet you’ll notice a few ads placements you didn’t even realize were there.


If you’re going to avoid banner blindness, you need a winning combination of consistently fresh ads and beautiful creative. This will not only lead to ads that look great and represent your brand well, but also will lead to immediate jumps in performance. Actually, bad ads are the leading cause of users downloading ad blocking software, which eMarketer estimates 30% of internet users will be using by 2018.

SteelHouse data shows that a creative refresh on Facebook, in which an older ad is replaced by a new one, can result in a CPM up to 50% lower than what the older ad was producing. It lowers your CPM, which means your ads will bring in more business, and you can buy more inventory for a lot less. The numbers don’t lie — if you’re keeping up to date on refreshing your ads, your bottom line will thank you for it.


It’s no secret that humans are drawn to new, shiny things. So take advantage of that fact by rotating your creative before your ads start to get stale. While there is no hard and fast rule for when you should do a creative refresh, you should monitor your performance to ensure you know when it’s time for a change. We have found that after a few weeks the decision should be pretty clear.

For Facebook specifically, refreshing your ad helps its relevance score. The relevance score is how your ad is deemed valuable to your audience; Facebook acts as a gatekeeper in this regard to help shield their users from potentially bad content (i.e. bad ads), and the better the relevance score, the more your ad will be served. According to SteelHouse data, a creative refresh can result in a 4x increase in your relevance score.

While relevance scores are specific to Facebook, the guidance prescribed to keep your ads relevant spans across channels, and is true for both display and mobile. Along with replacing your ads with newer versions, keep these other tips in mind to ensure your ads are relevant to your audience (and thus not susceptible to banner blindness).

> Focus Your Targeting | Don’t cast too wide of a net — if you’re targeting every 18-34 year old out there, chances are your ad is not going to resonate with the vast majority of them. Instead, analyze your audience data and use it to zero in on an audience that will respond to your ads.

Your Ad Should Be Visually Engaging | People respond well to great visuals or video, so use them. According to Business Insider, video ads have the highest average CTR of all digital ad formats.

Test Your Ads | Track your ads’ performance to see which ones perform better than the rest. A/B testing is key to finding what works, and it can give you essential insight into what resonates with your audience. Take those learnings and apply them to your next creative refresh.


While rotating your ads at the right pace is key, if you want to keep your consumers clicking you need to know your creative is top notch. Here are some tips we’ve discussed to help keep your creative sharp.

The Right Colors | You need your ad to stand out. One way to do it is to use colors that draw attention. Your color choices should match your brand’s style and pair well with the product you are promoting. For example, if you’re selling chic heels, using white space with black text matches the exclusive feel of the product.

Embrace the Empty Space | It’s okay to have empty or “negative” space in your ad. Don’t think of it as wasted space – instead consider it another tool at your disposal to make your ad attractive, your design clean, and draw attention to what you want your customers to focus on.

Less Is More | Try not to be tempted to put too much into one ad. If your ad is too cluttered, your customers can’t glance at it and get what they need. Cluttered ads can definitely make their way into the ‘bad ad’ bucket.

Don’t Complicate Your Visuals | Stock photography is a great, simple way to source visuals for your brand. The wide selection of photos available practically guarantees you’ll find the right image to match the feel of your ad — just be sure you don’t pick something too cheesy.


The more you refresh your creative, the more effective your ads will be. Not only will it give you another chance to catch your audience’s attention and avert banner blindness, it gives you an opportunity to iterate on previous creative and apply the learnings you have collected from your testing. What results is a superior ad with a more receptive audience — so be sure your creative is fresh.

To learn more about how your creative can drive performance, check out