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Marketing New Year’s Resolution: Combat Ad Fatigue in 2021

Ad fatigue occurs when your audience has seen an ad too many times and loses interest, and is extremely harmful to any advertiser's bottom line. In this article we discuss tactics to keep your ads engaging with fresh and relevant content.
Parker Dietz
November 13, 2020
April 11, 2024

This year, it’s time to bid farewell to ad fatigue.

Ad fatigue will plague even the most successful of ads. It’s an inevitable problem that advertisers face, but there are ways to ease the problem before it becomes too severe.

In many instances, ad fatigue is really content fatigue. The same photo or video is being shown too many times and causing your audience to lose interest. It’s vital to have enough content to test new creative frequently, but many advertisers struggle to keep up. According to a survey by Cohley and Digiday, 65% of marketers are struggling to meet content demands. The problem likely stems from the fact that 59% also keep a majority of their content generation in-house. Activating the right amount of content  in-house is nearly impossible. And even if it isn't, you’d need a massive team dedicated  solely to content production.

In this article, we cover the basics of ad fatigue, how to identify it, and the best ways to combat it.

What is Ad Fatigue?

Put very simply, ad fatigue is when your audience grows tired of your ads. They’ve seen it, they’ve lost interest, and they’ve stopped engaging entirely. Everyone has experienced this in their own lives while watching television or listening to the radio. You’ve seen or heard an ad so many times that it drives you to frustration or to turn off the TV or radio entirely. Ad fatigue also occurs on digital channels frequently, and we’ll be focusing on that for the rest of this article.



On average, an ad is completely worn out within 30 days at the most. According to Facebook advertising best practices, you should switch out ad creatives every one to two weeks. But generating enough relevant content can be expensive and time consuming, so many marketers struggle. In this article, we’ll cover some ways that you can keep your creative fresh without breaking the bank.

Negative Effects of Ad Fatigue and How to Identify it

Monitoring ad fatigue is vital because letting it slip through the cracks can hurt your bottom line. As the frequency of an ad increases, the cost-per-click will rise. Over time, these price increases will add up and cast a dark shadow over the annual advertising performance for your company. That’s not to say frequency isn’t important -  it usually takes 6-7 impressions to inspire a consumer to take some sort of action. Yet, after that 6th or 7th time, there’s a steep drop off in engagement and you begin to lose money. No one wants to pay more for worse results. Monitoring ad performance and adjusting accordingly is extremely important in combating ad fatigue.

There are two main things you should track when trying to identify ad fatigue.

  1. Frequency: Frequency is the average number of times people see your ad. If your audience starts seeing your ad close to ten times, they see it too frequently and ad fatigue has either already set in or is about to.
  2.  CTR: Your CTR is the number of times people click on your ad divided by the number of impressions. Average CTRs vary by industry, so be sure to compare your own against the industry standard.  Pet products  have a much higher average CTR than home goods, for example. 

The Creative Solution

We’ve already established that ad creatives should update every one to two weeks. But how do you keep up with such a high frequency of swapping creative? We recommend utilizing user-generated content (UGC) in your ads to keep it fresh. UGC is much more affordable than in house content. At Cohley, we see extremely low cost-per-assets of UGC when compared to in-house photography or graphic design. Clothing brand, Rhone, uses UGC to fuel their Facebook and Instagram ads. By doing so, they've achieved a cost-per-asset around $10. That's astounding when compared to the cost of an in-house photoshoot. The amount of content needed for ad optimization is insane. According to Facebook Ad guru John Loomer, “In an ideal world, a brand would be adding new creative assets to their funnel at least twice a week. If you’re spending more than $50,000 per month, it should be even more”. Meeting that benchmark with all professional or in-house content will take a toll on any marketing budget. UGC is the affordable option to keep up with content demand, as the price for acquiring it is much lower on average.

When generating UGC for ads, it can be tempting to provide overly detailed and restrictive creative briefs. Instead, we recommend leaving room for creative interpretation. Only include the most necessary instructions and guidelines. The reason for this is twofold. First, the content that your consumers create for you will be a reflection of what truly interests or inspires them. By its very nature, it’s one of the most effective methods for uncovering what interests your target audience. Second, you never know what is going to perform well. A photo that seems like it would never work at first might end up being the best performing asset you’ve had in months. In fact, we find this to be true quite often.

On top of the cost savings, UGC also receives 4x higher click-through rates on average, and the reasoning makes sense. When you let your community lead the charge on creative development, you end up with content that reflects what's actually interesting to them. As a potential customer scrolls through facebook and sees a reflection of their own persona or interests in an ad, they’re much more likely to engage. UGC also allows you to customize your content for different audiences. At Cohley, we often work with brands that need content in different geographic settings to reflect their customers in different parts of the world. Showing your products being used in relevant environments will increase your chances of success in that market.

Another way to improve the performance of your ads is to conduct more testing. Testing multiple ad formats and creatives helps you uncover information about your consumers, leading to more successful ads in the future. Once you have a system for generating a firehose of content, testing becomes much easier.  When generating content, do your best to diversify the types of content you receive. Be sure to have some product shots, lifestyle images, professional, light, dark and so on. Perform tests between different content types and styles, like lifestyle vs. product, professional vs. user-generated, and light vs. dark. The results from these initial tests will surface audience behavior and inform you on what resonates with your consumers. Facebook has two common approaches to testing.

  • Cadence testing: You launch two ads in one ad set, each featuring a different creative asset. Then you turn them off after two days and start two new ones, and the process repeats itself. Review the results to see what type of creative won out. 
  • Dynamic creative testing: This option allows you to test different creative types, images, videos, and slideshows along with different lines of copy in one ad set. Facebook then combines them and allows you to see which combinations performed the best overall. 

Once you’ve figured out what tends to perform well within your ads, you can go back to the well and use what you learned to guide your creative generation process in the future. By doing this, you’ll create ads that have a longer life than if you relied on instinct alone or didn’t have a system in place to begin with. This advice comes with the caveat that there isn’t a silver bullet when it comes to ad performance. The key is to continue testing, even when you think you don’t need to. Identifying trends early on will help you stay ahead of the curve and avoid ad fatigue before it hits. It’s a good idea to get on a regular testing schedule so you constantly have new learnings coming in.

Using Cohley to Combat Ad Fatigue

Since the secret to fighting ad fatigue is testing more content, you need a system for generating, storing, activating, and measuring performance of content at scale. As you can imagine, adding new creatives to your funnel twice a week takes a lot of work, even if you have a 20 person team focused solely on content generation. Cohley is like having a team of hundreds of content creators constantly working for you. In the Cohley platform, you’re able to launch campaigns where content creators simultaneously apply to work with you. They then will create content featuring your products or services and submit it back to you via the platform. All content is brand-owned so you’re able to start testing that content in ads immediately. As previously stated, monitoring the performance of your ads regularly is vital to combatting ad fatigue. That’s why Cohley’s integrations with Facebook and TikTok pull in data directly from your ads managers and inform you on which pieces of content are performing the best.

Having an evergreen supply of content to continuously fuel testing is what separates the winners from the losers when it comes to digital ad performance. If you’re interested in joining the winner’s circle, contact us and we'll help you win your battle with ad fatigue.

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Parker Dietz
Head of Content
With a wealth of knowledge about competitors and pricing, Parker is all about exploring the best way to communicate Cohley's benefits. Outside of work, Parker enjoys poorly playing guitar at parties, watching every Adam Sandler movie ever made, and eating Arabic food.