Why You Shouldn’t Use Misleading Banners in Your Ads

In the last article, we discussed the importance of providing value to your visitors and your advertising audience. This article is sort of a sequel to it, explaining why you shouldn’t use misleading banners in your ads. If you haven’t read the previous one, go here to see 4 Crucial Rules For Beginners in Affiliate Marketing.

In this article, we are going to take a look at what banners and display ads are, and why they shouldn’t be used in a misleading to visitors way, and how that can affect your marketing strategy badly.

Using display narratives to present your ads to to your audience is one of the most popular ad delivery methods. The setup that has proven to be most successful, yet vary basic over the past couple of years has been:

Banner Ad -> Pre-Landing Page -> Landing Page -> Offer
Banner Ad -> Landing Page -> Offer

Some marketeers go a step further and make their own complex marketing funnels in which they first grab their email by offering a piece of valuable content or a download, and then they advertise their offers through their mailing list.

In this article, however, we are going to focus on the usage of display advertisements, and not just banners, but we will call them banners for the sake of easy readability.

Before proceeding, let’s talk about what banners are in this case.

So, what are those banners exactly?

They are the first step in our marketing strategy – they are what attracts the targeted visitor to make the first step and see whatever we are advertising.

A banner could be a Facebook Ad, Google Display Ad, Push notification or generally any other type of served image-based advertisement. These ads are often complimented with some sort of a short text – like a title and description in some cases.

When using banners, it’s all about focusing on CTR (click-through rate), and for those of you who don’t know what this is – this is the number of clicks you received, compared to the number of impressions you had.

Grasping onto getting a higher CTR rate, advertisers often try to include misleading or click-bait messages into their banners.

This might seem like a good strategy, because more clicks = more conversions, right? But it’s not really like that. If you are using a misleading banner that’s not actually related or saying false information compared to the final offer you are promoting, that’s actually going to backfire against your marketing success and decrease your conversions.

Why shouldn’t you use misleading banners?

Because people are not fools on the internet anymore. If there’s not an imminent and perfect connection between your banner and your landing page, that raises a clear red flag for them, and immediately decreases their trust in you and your website.

Your advertisement should either be a journey for your visitor that they go through once they click on your ad, or every part of the process needs to reflect on the same thing that you are promoting at the end.

The easiest example for this would be promoting a product’s free trial, and advertising it as entirely free to your audience.

They might not realize it until they get to the final step of your funnel, but, once they do, they are going to know that they have been fooled and be disappointed of the final outcome.

Plus, if you said that this was a free product when it wasn’t, you might also be reaching a different audience than the one you were targeting.

Perhaps the people who actually would have purchased the product, knew it wasn’t free, and didn’t go through with it, because they thought you were misleading them.

What’s the difference between misleading and non-misleading?

A misleading banner would be promoting an image that’s either unrelated to what you are actually advertising, or using incorrect statements in your advertising.

As I mentioned, such banners would get you nowhere, because visitors would be disappointed for not receiving what they came for.

A non-misleading banner would be advertising an image or a message that’s consistent throughout your marketing journey, and does not contain any false information regarding the final step you want the visitor to undertake.

Testing different and various banners is also quite important, but you should make sure they are consistent with your overall strategy and idea.

It’s true that a misleading banner might have a higher CTR, but it will come at the cost of a lower CR (conversion rate), so it’s a game of finding the perfect balance between a highly clickable banner and a converting one as well.

Furthermore, misleading banners will also get you banned from most premium advertising networks like Google or Facebook. Higher quality networks require that advertisers follow a clear set of rules, and those go specifically against misleading and incorrect information.

Examples of misleading banners

Please, take a look at some of those examples and make sure you don’t do that.

1. You have a virus

This one is one of the favorites of many old-school affiliates. Back when the rules weren’t that clear, telling a person they have a virus on their device was a sure way to get them to click on your ad.

Not only have people gotten smarter since then, and don’t trust those ads anymore, but also very few advertising networks would actually allow you to advertise like that anymore without getting banned.

A safe way to advertise antivirus offers is saying “You might have a virus” or “It’s important to protect your phone from viruses, SCAN NOW”.

Now, do you see how this is not misleading, and it actually gives the visitor an idea to check up on their device just in case.

If you plant the right idea from the start, you can get the result you want, and your visitor would also be happy about it.


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2. Congratulations! You’ve won!

Another favorite by thousands of affiliate marketeers worldwide. We have all won a couple of iPhones or MacBooks while browsing the internet, but now that strict sanctions and regulations are imposed by advertising networks, that’s no longer possible.

And it’s also a good thing, because people have gotten really tired of seeing sweepstakes offers like that. The only way to actually have a converting sweepstakes campaign, is to make it actually believable.

This is why currently the method that actually works is saying “You could win an iPhone! Participate in this survey/Answer these 3 questions/etc.”, and then you send them to your landing page survey, which at the end gives directs them to your offer link.

Do you feel the significant difference that will be placed in the visitor’s mindset?


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3. Brand Images

Using brand images in your advertisements might give your creatives an extra sense of credibility, but most often they are going to convey to the viewer that you are most likely using a brand’s logo without their permission.

This raises a red flag for them, and you might be losing high-quality visitors, because of acting like a spammer.

Additionally, very few advertising networks would allow you to run such ads. Of course, the ad approval processes are not always manual, and you might somehow get them approved, but that’s not a viable strategy in the long-term.


banner 5


banner 6

4. Misleading CTA

Misleading call-to-action buttons are also a huge red flag for your audience. Why would you even do them when it’s CTA, because it’s acting as the actionable button on your page?

You wouldn’t see any significant increase in CTR either way, because if you had set up your page properly, the rest of the page would be pointing the viewer’s attention towards the button either way.

So, when it comes to CTA buttons, make sure your page actually points to it, because a button that has to scream “Click me, please” to work is not an efficient one.


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If you were thinking of promoting through blackhat methods like cloaking and misleading ads, I hope that this article gives you an insight of how ineffective those methods would be.

Why would you even do it, if it won’t give you an increase in conversions or make your more money? By using misleading ads, you are losing your reputation and your trustworthiness in front of your viewers.

Not to mention that you would also be losing trust with your advertising network, and you could also get banned for doing that.

Follow the rules, they are made according to the actual viewer’s preferences and not the ones of the advertiser.

The direct the entire internet is going at is value-first, so you also need to adapt to this strategy.

Make sure you are consistent with the message you are conveying throughout your entire ad journey, because that’s the only way to make a visitor actually wanting to convert at the end.

Written by Asen Levov

I am a startup founder with years of experience in web development and digital marketing. I have been doing affiliate marketing since 2015, primarily performance. Started Ad Specto to share my story and my knowledge with the world. Founder @SketchCoWorking @AdSpecto

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