Fail Campaign Friday – Red Sox Checks

by Mike Chiasson on April 1, 2011 · 4 comments

So this Friday I am launching a new semi-regular session on this blog that I’m going to call ‘Fail Campaign Friday’. During these sessions I’m going to pick out a favorite campaign I saw during the week or maybe one of my own. However unlike traditional case studies that I and others publish, these are strictly going to focus on failing campaigns. God knows I have enough of these to last years… Without further delay. Here is the first installment.

Red Sox Checks

This was a campaign I ran on Facebook a LONG time ago. I wanted to bring it up since the Boston Red Sox’ first game is today. This particular campaign was direct linking to the Checks Unlimited offer on Share A Sale. The offer is CPS based which means I actually need someone to purchase the item for me to receive a commission. Although commissions vary I was averaging about $6 per sale on similar campaigns I was running on Facebook.

I used the now deceased FB Ads Manager and launched approximately 300 revisions of Red Sox themed check images. During baseball season the Red Sox fans tend to get hammered by Red Sox images from places like Stub Hub and Ace Tickets, so instead of using actual MLB players I was using an image of a check with the MLB logo. This was WEAK and LAZY on my part. Clearly I wasn’t pushing for high CTRs and was more focusing on being transparent to the user. My plan to do this (way back then) was that only interested people would click my ad. I didn’t want people wasting my money while paying CPC to only close the window because they had no intention of looking at checks. In my slightly wiser old age I recognize that the CTR increase would’ve lowered the bids enough to make it worth my while.

The Ad

One particular ad was for Men, 36+, who were interested in Red Sox themed keywords. You can see the ad on the right here. Like I said above this ad had an image of a check in it and a quick fading red background that almost makes the image to text look awkward. This had about a 50% higher CTR compared to the exact version without the red fade. Also in this ad I used the headline ‘We Hate The NY Yankees’. This definitely grabbed interested a lot more than my other ‘Buy Checks Here’ headline.

Red Sox Checks Fail


This particular campaign ran for just a single day and I killed it after it lost me about $45. The above ad didn’t quite hit my expected limit but since the campaign as a whole hit significantly higher than 4x the payout it got paused. As you can see it ended up costing me a pretty high CPC of $0.54 which would make this campaign damn near impossible to turn profitable direct linking.

Red Sox Check Fail 2

Ad #127 - Age 36-65 - M - Text 6 - Image 2

Why Did It Fail?

This failed for a few reasons. One direct linking on a CPS is a horrible idea. You really need to build up their desire to BUY NOW. Typically a CPS based data feed site doesn’t have too much of a ‘sell’ to it. More of an e-commerce ‘click here to buy’ attitude. Also the CPC was way too high, this is due to the less than favorable CTR, overall length of the campaign, and the extremely broad demographic. To run a campaign like this the age groups should be more defined. Lastly my call to action sucked, “Get your custom checks…” cmon Mike!

Could This Be Successful?

Tough to tell. I had some success with selling Checks on some other networks but it really is a niche demographic. You need DIE HARD fans of whatever niche you are pitching to, and you typically have to go after the 35+ crowd. Realistically anyone 25 and under probably writes a handful of checks a year. Its funny though as I write this I am getting really mad that I ever even wasted money pushing it the way I did and I feel engaged to bring this one back to life to just not disgrace my beloved Red Sox.

Are The Red Sox Going To Win The 2011 World Series?


Are You Still Friends With New York Yankee Fans?

Nope. Until November I don’t want to talk to any of you unless you are A.) buying me a drink, B.) Bringing me to a baseball game [I’ve never been to Yankee Stadium, new or old], C.) You have the capability to bring me to the Playboy Mansion again…[you know who you are!]

About the author

Mike Chiasson Mike Chiasson is the Director of IT for a publicly traded company by day and an Internet Marketer by night. He absolutely hates the words 'serial entrepreneur' but loves discussions about business. You can follow him on Twitter.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

DHinHD April 1, 2011 at 11:27 am

Love this idea for a series. Hope it continues. And the campaign feels like it has potential. I can see why you thought it would be a good idea.


tom April 1, 2011 at 1:15 pm

Interesting campaign Mike… Check out a similar post from Eric Nagal about this niche.
My recent post todaytom- i just found out that when you get married in China you have to pay a Bride fee! wtf


Joe April 1, 2011 at 7:39 pm

Nice one, this is an awesome idea, I find it more helpful tbh than a successful campaign case study.


John April 2, 2011 at 7:24 am

The problem is you were using the Red Sox, not the Yankees 😉


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