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15 Hilariously Bad Google AdWords Ads

Google Adwords is a great source of traffic if you understand how to leverage it properly. If done right, search and display ads can be used to help people find your website among the millions of possible websites available.

AdWords exist so when someone searches for content related to what you have to offer, they can find you. But there is definitely a little bit of experience needed to match up the right buyers with your advertising.

In the hands of an expert marketing consultant, Google Adwords is an amazing channel capable of producing a great ROI (Return On Investment). But sometimes, Google ads go horribly horribly wrong.

You may have the greatest content in the world on your site, but if no one can find you, it will not matter. And worse yet, you could even upset visitors with the wrong type of advertising.


Enter the importance of good Adwords.

Google’s matching algorithm is wonderful. It takes a keyword phrase and matches it directly to the parameters you set forth in your Adwords account.

You may never have know how it happened, but somehow a visitor searched and found your ad in a matter of seconds. This is the magic of Google’s Adwords platform.

However, not everyone has ninja digital marketing skills. And Google won’t always do what you think it’s going to do. This can make for some interested AdWords failures that are worth taking a moment to review.

So, for your scrolling amusement today, please enjoy this list of Ads that did not turn out so well.


1. Qantas

First up is this Ad, “Fly to Australia Cheap” which showed up with a damaged picture of a Qantas “Spirit of Australia” airplane from an emergency landing. This occurred because the team did not exclude news sites from their placement settings.


2. New Brain

Not happy with your current Brain? Just get a new one on eBay of course. This happened because eBay had a very broad matching algorithm that was not specific enough to prevent this ad from showing.


3. Broken Leg

Another eBay fail. As if the new brain wasn’t bad enough, now you can bid on a broken leg. This is the same issue as the previous ad, and a good reminder to keep your advertising as specific as possible.


4. Athletic Sweat

For the person going for the “I don’t care about my life” scent before a night out on the town. Ok, we will stop making fun of eBay ads, for now…


5. Braille

In case you missed it, Braille is a tactile writing method used by people who are blind. This is simply a poorly managed campaign where a dynamic search ad went wrong. In all reality, this is a bookstore trying it’s best to get traffic by any and all means necessary.


6. Used Diapers

Yeah, no one is going to be wanting those. While “used” keywords are generally good for bidding on, you have to be sure to watch your query reports to ensure you are not missing any edge cases that might be incorrect.


7. New Grandma

Simply purchase the newest model grandma, right? Wrong. If you are selling anything online it can be tempting to cast a wide net. In this case they broad matched a ton of buying intent keywords and matched them to dynamic ad copy.


8. Buy Love

Can’t Buy Me Love? Amazon says you can. Well, maybe at this point you can buy love on Amazon. I know that Jeff Bezos is the richest man alive…


9. Flights To Hell

Visiting hell is probably not on anyone’s bucket list, but, well here you go. This travel website will fly you anywhere, and their Adwords account targeting reflects that.


10. Quality Low

Thousands of low quality items available for you to choose from. Of all the matching fails, this one I can understand the most. Honestly it is simply a reversal of their ad copy and they probably do very well on “low price” and “high quality” related terms.


11. Rear End

These guys will not be undersold on rear ends. It is a subtle ad copy fail, but a good reminder to make sure that you have someone else review your ads before they go live. You should always qualify broad copy to ensure it comes across right.


12. Worthless Items

If you need a basket full of “Worthless Items,” look no further. Target has your back. It is amazing to me that large companies like Target, Amazon, and eBay do not watch their ads closer. After all, they have millions of dollars and hundreds of people focused on these campaigns.


13. Trash

Oh Target, you did not learn your lesson? This is simply a dynamic query that found the search for “trash” and returned a match for the home page.


14. Your Soul

One last parting jab at eBay. Come on now, use some negative matching and more refined search parameters here. Otherwise we might think there are 200 Million people in the market for our souls.


15. Chuck Norris

We added this one to stay on Chuck’s good side. There wasn’t anyone silly enough to try and bid on this term.


A better option.

As you can see, things in advertising don’t always work the way they are supposed to when you have the wrong marketing team working for you.

Please let these examples serve as a reminder that your AdWords may need a second look before they go live, and that it really is more complicated than it may seem to get the right ad to show up to the right person, and all at the right time.

To ease your mind, please remember you are in the driver’s seat when it comes to choosing a skilled team to work for you. Need help? Get in touch with us today. Our team is ready and willing to help you meet your goals, increase qualified traffic to your site, and seriously skyrocket your ROI.

With over a decade of combined experience in search engine marketing, rest assured when you bring in Risely, your content will never appear in a satirical list like this.

Ben Wright

CEO at Risely

Ben is the Founder and CEO of Risely. He founded the company in 2012 after he saw a need in the marketplace for a more personalized delivery of marketing services with a focus on customer service.


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