Paid Media Mistakes: Seven Ways to Get Your Paid Ads Taken Down


  • Even though PPC is a massive part of most businesses’ digital marketing strategy, they still commit unfortunate or clumsy paid media mistakes that stop their campaigns from taking off. 
  • There are several reasons why ads can get taken down, from the careless to the naive.
  • Common paid media mistakes include a low quality score, making unfounded claims, using disapproved terminology, not bidding on yourself, and failing to A/B test.

Pay-per-click is an essential tool for most businesses, with 45% of small businesses and 74% of organizations with over 50 employees engaging in it. We get it, competition for organic search rankings is already ridiculous and only growing daily. This means that, unless you’re an SEO genius happy to wait months to get any SERP traction, paid ads are a necessary complement to any successful SEO strategy. 

PPC is ingrained in digital marketing; we’ve already looked at some of the best ways to maximize returns on your PPC spend and how it compares to organic search results. However, considering that so many businesses use it and that global PPC spend was over $135 billion in 2019, why are millions of people still getting their ads taken down? In 2018 alone, Google took down 2.3 billion bad ads or 75 ads a second. 

So how are businesses making these massive paid media mistakes that are crippling their marketing campaigns before they even get off the ground? Well, let’s take a look at some of the massive “don’ts” of PPC and what you can do to avoid them.

Paid Media Mistakes: What’s Going Wrong With Your Ads

There are several reasons why ads can get taken down, from the careless to the naive. Here we’ll take a look at the biggest culprits across the biggest avenue for paid ads, Google.

Low Quality Score

Google uses a Quality Score to measure your site’s past performance with ads, and this is a major factor in where it ranks and how much you have to pay. In simple terms, you get a good quality score for your ad having relevance to a keyword and a bad score if it doesn’t. 

For example, if you have an ad for jeans, but accidentally (or on purpose) bid for ‘genes’ as a keyword, then people searching for books on genes or information on gene therapy will see your ad. If they click it they won’t buy anything and will leave quickly as it’s not what they were looking for. Google will then give you a low Quality Score. If that Quality Score gets too low, it can mean that your ads are at risk of being taken down or not displayed at all.

Too Many Caps

While CAPS might work great for display advertising, like 20% OFF – ALL WEEK or SUMMER STOCK JUST IN, when it comes to the internet, it has long been one of the worst grammatical faux pas. Google feels the same when it comes to its paid ads and will take them down if you use too many caps in your ads.

Making Unfounded Claims

While you may be the best sailor in the world unless someone reputable says so too, you can’t put it in your ad for coastal fishing trips. For any big claims you make in your ads, you need to have something backing it up, either in the ad or your landing page content.

Getting Your URL Ducks in a Row

Poor URL usage is one of the simplest paid media mistakes but also a massive campaign killer. Optimizing URLs is a common part of good SEO housekeeping, but if you don’t update the URL contained in your ad, the destinations won’t match, and it will be taken down. This also applies to matching the root URLs of the ad with the destination URL (e.g,  an ad for going to

Disapproved Words

There are many obvious keywords that will automatically get your ad banned, such as pharmaceuticals, tobacco products, and pornography. However, there are certain words, such as “Click Here” which can also inadvertently get you banned. Many of the issues around disapproved words can be contextual, i.e., Google’s machines not understanding the context a word is used in. If this happens, following their resolution process is the only solution, while taking note of what can and can’t be used for the future.

Not Bidding on Yourself

A very simple trick that absolutely every business should be doing is bidding on their own name. Imagine spending so much time and money on your SEO, link-building, and improving brand awareness, then when someone types in your name, the first results are a competitor. 

Bid prices are usually quite low, and visitors may just go through the organic route anyway (presuming you rank organically for your own business name!), but after getting potential leads to the cusp of your funnel, it would be a nightmare for them to be diverted away.

Failing to Run Tests

Trying out different versions of the same ad might sound like unnecessary extra work. You’ve already gone through the trouble of going through the whole creation process, so why go through it again to put out a slightly different version of the same thing? Well, that’s because ads are not just ads, especially on a platform like Google. With the power of Google Analytics, you can get excellent data on what approach best suits your target audience or even individual segments of it. 

Multivariate and A/B ad testing is a fantastic tool, and one of the biggest paid media mistakes is not taking advantage of it. You’re already paying for the advertisement; it’s definitely worth putting in the extra effort to finetune your approach, with data you can then use across all of your marketing strategy.

Avoid Paid Media Mistakes By Trusting the Experts 

Even though PPC is a massive part of most businesses’ digital marketing strategy, they still commit unfortunate or clumsy paid media mistakes that stop their campaigns from taking off. Luckily there are experts out there who actually enjoy getting into the nitty-gritty of PPC, SEO, and CRO every day so you don’t have to walk those perilous paths alone.

If you want to know the inside scoop on how paid search can do amazing things for your business, get in touch with us today

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Mauricio has close to 20 years of digital experience and a core foundation in the technical side of SEO. He’s led and executed strategy both in-house and on the agency side and enjoys defining successful strategies for our clients.
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