Welcome to the latest edition of our current weekly blog series, How to Ruin an Ad. As is most obvious from the title of this series, each week we’ll be identifying a key element of an ad that, when missing, is sure to reduce its effectiveness.

Last week’s ad was ruined by a making people feel dumb.

Today’s ad is ruined by: Targeting the wrong people

Effective advertising is the result of a long process. And often, people spend far too much time focusing on the actual creative – the design, the headline, the copy, the imagery, etc. – and too little time focused on the logistics.

A great looking ad, one that follows all the best practices of design and copywriting, can still fall flat if it’s targeted to the wrong people.

You have to know your audience. Who are your customers and what do they do? Where do they shop? What do the read, listen to, and watch on TV?

Step one in advertising should be determining who you want to reach with your ads. If you skip that step, it doesn’t matter whether or not you can create a great ad. Because you won’t know where to put it or when it run it. It will reach the wrong people. And you’ll get no return on your investment.

To use a personal example, Spotify has been one of the worst offenders as far as ad delivery channels go. Recently, I’ve been targeted with ads for dog food and toys but I don’t have a dog. I’ve been told to listen to a new album I already have saved in my account. And I’ve been targeted by a fast food company that doesn’t have a single location in my state.

These are wasted ad dollars because there is no way I am a potential customer for any of them. The best ads in the world can’t make up for poor targeting.

Did you enjoy this post? Do you have a surefire way to ruin an ad you think we should cover in an upcoming post?