Facebook Ad Critique By Dean Holland

The video above is a critique of my Facebook Ad by Dean Holland during a coaching session.

This was an ad that I ran back in 2020 to promote The Iceberg Effect Book, which is a great book that shows you how to succeed with Affiliate Marketing.

At the time of the critique, the ad has already generated 115 sales.

After implementing Dean’s advice, testing different images and audience, while using the exact same ad copy, it generated another 400+ sales before it stopped being profitable. 

I’ve learned a lot from Dean’s critique.

Whether you plan to run Facebook Ads or not, I believe you will learn something useful as well.


Ugly Images That Work

When I first received this image from Fiverr, I wasn’t very happy about it.

I thought this image was too ugly and is not going to work for Facebook Ad.

But I decided to test it anyway and surprisingly, I got almost double the clickthrough rate compared to a more beautiful image.

The lesson learned here is that as a marketer, you should never assume.

You should always test before drawing a conclusion.

Don’t allow your emotions or preconceived notion to make the decision for you. (Yes, I know it is easier said than done. I almost did that.)

Look at the data instead.

This applies not just to Facebook Ads, but anything to you do online.

For example blogging.

Maybe you spent a lot of time writing a blog post, but for some reason, you think it is crap and maybe someone will judge you.

Just post it anyway.

Who knows, you might receive a much better response than you anticipated.

You will never know until you test.


Why Ugly Images Can Work

I guess when all the images you see on Facebook are beautiful, ugly stands out like a sore thumb.

As the saying goes “In a sea of beauties, ugly stands out”.

It is a form of pattern interrupt.

Anyway, I hope you have learned something useful here.

Thanks for reading.

If you would like a get a copy of The Iceberg Effect, you can go here.

If you would like to work with Dean, you can go here.

42 thoughts on “This Ad Generated 500+ Sales”
  1. That was very revealing…. who would have guessed there was a problem with using the word “you”.. I also found the image advice interesting, what image made the big difference, I would love to see it.

    I also like the different ways he suggested for make more use of the same material.

    Thanks posting

    1. It depends on the usage. If you say “Are you struggling with affiliate marketing”, that is definitely not acceptable.

      Regarding the images, I will have to look for them. All I can say is that surprisingly, the ugly images actually work better.

    2. So true. We are so critical about ourselves that we tend to do too much and lost ouverselves with details. I’m like that. Our first idea is often the best. The message is more important than the look.
      Thank you Alan.

      1. Yes, that’s true. We tend to over complicate things because we are afraid of being judged or looking stupid.

        So we think we need to have something beautiful or perfect. Who would have thought a simple, ugly image with the right message will perform better?

  2. This is such an incredibly useful post. Thank you for sharing this. I’ve worked on Facebook ads for quite a while, and just couldn’t get any results for affiliate marketing – I’ll definitely be applying these insights to my future ads.

    1. Hi Nathan, glad you find the post useful. I hope you will start seeing success with Facebook Ads. If you have more questions about Facebook Ads, feel free to let me know.

  3. Alan, amazing as usual my friend. And great advice around the ugly images. People are so used to seeing fantastic logos and animations and pretty images that when you see something different it really sticks out. It makes you think oh what’s that it’s a bit different and I think that really works well. I love the video with Dean. Going through your ad, you really have put in a lot of effort and been really creative. You’ve shown your readers how good our coach Dean is in providing valuable feedback as well as the process and infrastructure to do it. As usual I’m learning so much from you. Thank you so much until next time. Thanks, Atif .

    1. Yes, being different is the key. I don’t necessary think it is about being beautiful or ugly.

      If everyone is using beautiful images, then ugly stands out. But if everyone is using ugly images, then beautiful stands out.

  4. Alan,
    Whilst I’m not quite up to the stage of posting ads anywhere, I do like the suggestion of publishing what one might think is a substandard blog anyway; case in point my last one. A great post from you as usual. Awesome!

    1. Yes, sometimes people judged themselves too harshly. I’m guilty of that as well.

      They may spend their heart and soul writing a blog post, but because they think it sucks, they don’t publish the article for the world to see.

      They never realize that maybe someone out there would benefit from the content.

  5. Hi Alan,

    The video of your coaching session with Dean Holland was incredibly helpful to me. I learned some very important strategies for Facebook posting.marketing. Especially, the importance of using images and videos in the post. Another great takeaway is knowing that the text usually has a long lifespan.

    Many thanks for your post!

    1. Yes, a good copy can last for quite some time. All you need to do is to change the creatives (images or videos), change the target audience while using the exact same copy.

  6. Alan, I love your view on split testing because you never know what is going to resonate with the public. What you think is garbage may not be the case. I guess the message is to remove emotion from the equation.

    1. Definitely, emotion is one of the biggest obstacles that stop people from success with ads. Although removing the emotion is easier said than done. Preconceived notion is another one.

  7. Alan, thank you for adding the video about your ad. This is one area that I am still learning about and it seems to change on a daily basis. I learn from others as we hope others learn from us. Sometimes I catch myself falling into the “But I Like This” catagory and it may not be what stops my potential customers to take a look. Thanks!

  8. Alan,
    Enjoyed the video. Dean shared some really valuable information. I’ve recently dipped my toes into running organic FB ads, so I picked up a few helpful tips. It was reassuring to hear about embracing the “ugly” image—sometimes, it’s okay not to overthink the aesthetics. The blogging advice on just going ahead and posting without worrying about judgment is spot-on. Excited to read more of your future posts!

    1. Yes, sometimes people spent too much time trying to look beautiful, not realizing that it may backfire on them.

      The time spent on having the perfect aesthetics could have been better used putting out more content.

  9. Alan,

    Thanks for being willing to share the critique from Dean, so helpful. I’m not quite there yet to be doing ads but I do look forward to it and getting critiques. Was that at the monthly review meeting that he gave you that critique or was that his 1:1 coaching?

    1. Back in 2020, it was 2 coaching sessions a week. Dean conducted one session and Glenn conducted the other. So it was during one of Dean’s weekly coaching sessions that he critiqued my ad. It was only later that they switched to daily coaching session.

  10. Hi Alan, I am not up to Facebook Ads but I found your post and the video held a wealth of valuable information for future use.
    It is interesting that even though you didn’t like the ad image when it first arrived from fiverr thinking it was ‘ugly’ it went on to do well, very interesting to know. I guess ugly was actually the standout feature in this case.
    I really enjoyed watching the video with Dean, there was a lot to takeaway from that. Who would have thought the word ‘you’ could put you at a disadvantage by using it.
    Look forward to reading your future posts Alan, thanks so much for the value in this one.
    Have a great week!

    1. As far as direct response is concerned, “you” is a very powerful word. But Facebook doesn’t like you to single out anyone. That’s why you want to avoid using “you” too much in your ad copy.

      A few “you” should be fine as long as you are not using it in a way that cause someone to feel singled out.

  11. Hi Alan,
    A very unique post, you do have a creative streak. Maybe I’ll publish an add of me holding the book. That would be ugly enough to sell thousands!

    On a more serious note, it was a great way to sneak in a link to a high-ticket item at the end. That seemed to be the natural thing to do, rather than it appearing to be obtrusive. As I read the post, I was wondering if you were going to do that, and you did. However, I wouldn’t have put a second link to TIE at the bottom though, after you had a link to TIE near the top, as I feel that the second link distracts the reader’s attention from the link to Dean’s coaching. But that’s a very minor and debatable criticism. Perhaps a note that there was a link to TIE in blue at the top would have been more desirable. Who knows, I may be talking twaddle as usual.


    1. Hi Phil, thank you for your suggestions. I really appreciate them.

      With that said, I think the purpose of a blog post is to focus more on giving value and a positive experience to my readers rather than trying to maximize my commission.

      I figured that there are some readers who will be interested in the book while others may want to work with Dean.

      So I thought including both links at the end of the post will be more convenient for my readers, rather than to make them scroll all the way up to get the book, just because I get less commission for the book.

  12. Alan,
    I appreciate the video with a critique of your FB ad. I have little experience so am looking forward to learning more and creating my first ad.

    When you say that you ended the ad ‘before it stopped being profitable’. Does that mean that an ad can only run for a specific number of times? Is that based on the number of sales that if too low no longer cover the cost of the advert?

    1. First, let’s define what a Facebook Ad is.

      A Facebook Ad consist of 3 components.
      1. Creative (can be video or image)
      2. Ad Copy
      3. Headline (what you usually see below the image or video of a Facebook Ad)

      The “Creative” has the biggest impact on the performance of a Facebook Ad, followed by the “Ad Copy”, followed by the “Headline”.

      For the sake of simplicity, let’s leave the “Headline” out of this discussion. Because in my opinion, once you have a great “Creative” and a great “Copy”, the “Headline” can be very average and you will still have a winning ad.

      And since most beginners start with images, let’s focus on images and not talk about videos.

      So for the sake of this discussion, a Facebook Ad consist of:
      1. Image
      2. Ad Copy

      The purpose of the image is to “stop the scroll”.

      If people don’t stop scrolling, they won’t even read the ad copy.

      But for the people who stop scrolling, whether they are going to take the action you want them to take (lead generation or sales), depends on how good your ad copy is.

      So to answer your question about whether an ad can only be run for a specific number of times (or rather how long is an ad going to remain profitable), here’s my answer:

      There is this concept called “ad fatigue”.

      It is human nature. When people keep seeing the same thing over and over again, they get bored and stop paying attention.

      When it comes to Facebook Ad, the image tends to fatigue faster than the ad copy.

      As I mentioned above, only people who stopped scrolling read the ad copy. That’s why ad copy tend to last longer than images because of the lower exposure rate.

      So when you see an ad (image + ad copy) has stopped working, don’t discard the entire ad.

      Most probably, it is just the image that has stopped working.

      You just need to use a different image with the exact same ad copy, and the ad will start working again.

      Another factor that affects how long your ad will last is your daily budget and the size of the audience.

      If you are only spending a few dollars a day, and your target audience is in the millions, then your ad, especially the copy is probably going to last for a very long time.

      To give you context, I was spending about $100 per day and I changed my images every 2 to 3 weeks while I used the same ad copy for several months.

  13. HI Alan,
    Thanks for your post, so much awesome information and the video too was amazing!
    I’ve tried FB ads in the past and ran several ads with very little success.
    Currently I’ve been focused on the unpaid traffic due to financial limits.
    However, Sometime in the future I would like to try FB ads again.
    Until your next post!

  14. Alan – Great post and great example of what a great mentor can do for a person and their business. This is great information and makes me realize I need more education before I jump in too fast and furious. I really would like to try FB ads at some point. Thanks for this information!

  15. Alan, you pose a REALLY interesting idea here… “in a sea of beauties.. the ugly stands out!” Oh my… if that doesn’t just disrupt the status quo, I don’t know what will! This has me rethinking some of my ad strategies now… because I’m a little OCD and out to create the “pretties possible thing I can,” I’m wondering now if that doesn’t always have to be the solution…? I now must mull this over. :). Thanks for the food for thought!

    1. Hi Lauren, sometimes imperfection can help draws people’s attention. So while it is good to strive for perfection, it is also alright not to be perfect all the time.

  16. Hi Alan,
    Excellent post as always, and very educational. Thank you for sharing. I believe it’s impossible to please everyone since what I like may not necessarily be liked by another person. The crucial aspect is the message we convey; that must be clear in what we want to express. Of course, the image is also important but not essential, as people’s taste plays a significant role in this matter. I wish you all the best.

  17. Paid ads is not something I have tried yet, but I appreciate you sharing your experience here. I plan to reference this once I do venture into FB ads myself.

    I have to admit I wouldn’t have thought an “ugly” ad would have performed so well either, but you make a great point about it standing out. Getting people’s attention is the goal! And that can be so hard to do.


    1. I would say “standing out” is probably more important than it being “ugly”. After all, if everyone starts using “ugly” ads, then “beautiful” will probably stand out.

  18. The “beginner again” theme is ringing out in this post. Given that you are giving the Beginners Advantage coaching a go – it makes me feel our whole cohort is in the right place.

    It was certainly a good reminder to hear that we need to test before drawing a conclusion because emotion and preconceived notions will certainly get in the way if we let them.

  19. Hi Alan,
    Great reminder that to get attention you are better to do something different to everyone else.
    Thus ‘ugly’ adverts stand out from the crowd.
    I agree that this applies to blogs. Spending a lot of time worrying about the words, grammar, etc is not really the best use of time. Who knows whether people care or not.
    The hard truth is that most readers will skim read it anyway.

    1. Hi Neal, you made a good point about most readers skim reading. So spending too much time worrying about grammar is not the best use of time, especially for non native English speakers. And grammar police are not necessary the best customers.

      But it is still a good idea to do a quick basic grammar and spell check before posting your content.

  20. Alan,
    Very interesting read. And, yes, I did learn something. I wouldn’t have realized that an Ugly image would stop the scroll faster, but in a way it makes sense when you think about it!
    I also loved the way you explained the “Facebook Ad” to Eleanor! Great information!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *