How Long Does It Take For My Online Ads To Work?

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how long online ads work

“How long does it take for my online ads to work?” A valid, but complicated, question.

There are many variables that go into answering this question. And of course, those variables vary by business.

The quick answer? Twelve months. Yes, 12 WHOLE MONTHS! 

However, it’s way more nuanced than that. So let’s break it down, shall we?!

I Want Immediate Results!

Another phrase we often hear along with the, “how long does it take for my online ads to work” question.

I’ll be frank: this isn’t going to happen. For lots of reasons. We’ll start with two.

Reason One

First and foremost, we won’t offer you immediate results. Ever.

Good advertisers won’t just throw a few lines of copy and images together, bid on a couple of keywords, and then wait around for the conversions to come flying in. If that were the case, EVERYONE would be spending all of their money on online ads. EVERYONE would be an advertiser. EVERYONE’S ads would be killing it.


But, they aren’t.

Instead, what our clients find (I can’t speak for anyone else!) is that we have an onboarding phase. This is where we do things like …

  • Initial research into your company
  • We dig into your advertising goals
  • Your competitors are researched
  • We ask about your customers and ideal audience(s)
  • A baseline of where you’re starting from (or where you’ve been) is created

Reason Two

Next, we move into what we call the ‘Discovery’ phase. This is where strategy development and the campaign build happens for your online ads.

This is the super in-depth tactical stuff. During this time, we conduct: (*At B Squared Media, we say Discovery is about two weeks, on average)

  • In-depth keyword research
  • Market research
  • Audience building
  • Set up goal and conversion tracking (and pixels, if needed!)
  • Website, landing page, and current advertising audit

Then, we’ll develop a custom strategy to meet your goals.

You Play A BIG Part With Your Online Ads

Surprise! You also play a BIG part in the role of your online ads.

While all of the above is happening, you need to invest time in giving your advertiser all of the assets they need. You’ll also want to make yourself available to answer any questions.

Additionally, you’ll want to be the final spot check of all of the elements in place. These are things like …

  • Negative keywords
  • Ad copy
  • Structured snippets
  • Ad imagery

Helpful hint: To create those elements your advertiser will need your logo, brand colors, fonts, and other items that ensure your online ads are portraying your brand correctly. A Style Guide is super helpful when working with a new ads agency or team!

An Asset Library would be cool, too.

Trust me, it’s way better to spend this time upfront making things perfect than risk wasting your budget on low quality clicks.

Online Ads Approval

To start, ads aren’t magically approved the second they’re submitted. Oh no. That would be way too easy and sane!

Every advertising platform takes time to approve your ad.

  1. First, consider the fact that there are quite literally millions of online ads being submitted daily on the big platforms.
  2. Second, consider that these platforms review ads in the order they are received. Your online ads simply join a queue for approval.
  3. On average, most platforms will review most ads within one business day.
  4. HOWEVER,  it has been known to take longer than one business day. (we’re looking at you, Facebook!)

Secondly, there are several “hang ups” that can cause your ad to be disapproved.

A few of the most common areas that are flagged are:

  • Ad headline: Is it spammy or misleading?
  • Ad description: What’s your message? Is the content offensive or does the theme violate platform terms? Are you including prohibited content?
  • Keywords: Does the ad make sense — or match — with the keywords?
  • Landing page: Does your ad language match your landing page language? Is the landing page copy deemed offensive, in violation of terms, or prohibited (this happens more often than you think)?

If you don’t meet their guidelines, the platforms will flag your online ads for changes or even disapprove your ad. Unfortunately, that means you’ll have to repeat the process all over again.

Accelerating Your Online Ads

Okay, so you’ve dedicated time to onboarding & discovery, your ads have been approved, and your campaign is up and running. Now, why aren’t the leads flooding in?!

Short Answer

It’s normal for advertising campaigns to take time before picking up momentum.

Long Answer

It will take a few weeks for your advertising campaign to pick up momentum. How much time entirely depends on your company’s industry, your keywords, your budget, and your competition.

Making too many changes early on will compromise the “learning phase” of your campaign. And you cannot optimize a campaign without data. Optimizations are the changes to your online ads that are relevant to users who see your ads. When you give your ads enough time to “bake” (read: learn), the data collected through A/B and user testing allows you to make more informed decisions.

We call these “data-driven decisions.” You can only optimize your online ads if you have collected enough data to make informed decisions.

Nuanced Answer

In our experience (with startups, middle-market, and enterprise brands), it takes at least three months for a campaign to learn and “mature” — meaning it has started collecting data that can be used for optimizations.

However, it takes anywhere from three to twelve months to develop strong campaigns with strong conversions. If you’re super duper impatient and can’t wait 12 months, you at least need to give yourself six months to see solid results.

Varied Variables

And just in case you thought all of the above wasn’t crazy enough, there’s more!

  • Your website isn’t great? NO! Start here then do online ads.
  • If you’ve never run ads before, expect things to take longer.
  • Crowded marketplace with big competitors and big spends? Add more time. (*you can never outspend a competitor, but you can outsmart them! That just … takes time.)
  • If your analytics and tracking is a mess, you gotta fix that first!

And finally, finding the hours to dive into data weekly can prove challenging. Which is why I have a business in the first place. :-)

So, do online ads actually work??

Online Ads Work Wonders

Do online ads work? Absolutely. But as you can see, getting revenue-generating results from advertising takes time.

You need to allow time for onboarding & discovery. Each platform you advertise on needs to review and approve your ad. Not to mention the ongoing time and effort involved with tracking and optimizing your results.

But the results are worth it. We’ve had over 100 ROAS (return on ad spend; meaning for every dollar the client spent with us, we made them $100) for some clients. However, they allowed us room to test, collect data, and optimize based on what the data told us to do next.


B Squared ROAS (Return On Ad Spend) Formula

The absolute reality is: doing advertising on your own is hard – especially when you don’t know what to expect. And even if you partner with an agency, like B Squared Media, there’s no “set it and forget it” process for seeing desired outcomes. Or guarantee!

My advice: move past wanting immediate results and focus on the data. At the very least, you’ll learn about your products and services and the audiences who are interested in them. At the most, you’ll be killing it with your online ads!

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Brooke B. Sellas is an award-winning Customer Marketing Strategist and the CEO & Founder of B Squared Media. Her book, Conversations That Connect has been recognized nationally and is required reading for a Customer Experience class at NSU. Brooke's influence in digital marketing is not just about her accomplishments but also about her unwavering commitment to elevating the industry standard of digital customer experience and customer marketing.
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Category: Advertising
Tags: advertising, Advertising Strategy, online ads, online advertising, Paid Media, pay-per-click, PPC, SEM
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