Okay, we have a confession to make. Here it goes: we’ve been playing with AI-generated images of fish, beekeepers, and strange breeds of mice.
And being a marketing team, we decided to use this invaluable knowledge to create an article (after all, who’s gonna stop us?) about our biggest, most epic AI failures. And, of course, about how to avoid miserable AI failures.
Let's also note here that AI algorithms have come a long way in becoming more intelligent and no longer add three arms to the image, so failing your AI creatives becomes harder and harder. But we managed to fail anyway! (Persistence, my friends!).
Proof: AI images before
A bit about our research: the formal part
Meet your experts:
- Anna, Performance Team Lead – avid AI user, the person behind the beekeeper images
- Julia, Head of Marketing at PropellerAds – knows what kind of images our clients use
- Kira, Head of Content Marketing – you understand why they brought me here, right?
To make things more fun and practical (see? We think about that too), we decided to create images that could be used for real-world advertising campaigns and went with the following verticals: Finance, Gaming, and Utilities.
For queries, we used popular themes employed by our advertisers: both simple and plain and very artistic with figurative meaning to see how well AI could convey more complicated concepts.
AI Images for Finance
Attempt 1: Making Zero Dollars
One of the most common concepts behind financial offers is to make money fast. So that’s what we did – we created a query that simply says “money fast” in Fotor.
And here’s what we got:
At first glance, it’s nothing special. It’s just a boring, irrelevant picture. But if you take a closer look – you see some very unique zero-dollar bills.
As Anna puts it: “Artificial, but not intelligent.”
UPD: Our Head of Design, Natalia, clarifies: “There is a restriction on using images of U.S. dollars in creatives. Sometimes even Photoshop doesn’t open such files correctly (or at all). It’s a very old story. It’s likely that the AI generators are programmed to produce dollar images like this.”
So, here comes tip #1: ALWAYS check the details and formulate more specific queries rather than just using your favorite push notification title.
Attempt #2: Money Samurai Creative
This one is a recurring motif when promoting trading CPA offers – Money Samurai. It implies that a user can become as experienced, invincible, financially successful (and mysterious!) as a Japanese Samurai. But were they actually that rich? Hmm…
Anyway, we decided to test this bad boy and, you guessed it right, created a plain query: “Money Samurai.”
Let’s start with Midjourney – it wasn’t a failure! Three out of four images we received were looking suitable for ad campaigns:
We said three out of four, remember? Let’s examine the beast:
Technically, the image fully satisfies the query, and indeed, it depicts a samurai. However, the nature of this creature may not be entirely appropriate for advertising and may be considered “too much” by our policy team. (Or not)
Here’s another Money Samurai. This time, produced by Fotor:
Stylistically, it certainly stands out. Anime can be a win for some gaming offerings, but it is doubtful it can work for the finance vertical.
And we can’t ignore two mouths, can we?
Tip #2: Although figurative language can work and produce creatives suitable for certain concepts, be very careful with this type of query because the chances of ending up with unnatural images are significantly higher.
Attempt #3: All roads lead to Forex
After testing short and simple queries, we had the idea to try long and detailed ones.
Let’s start with some popular phrases from push titles: “Deposit bonus start trading.” What could possibly go wrong?
MidJourney created these images:
Look like your most typical Forex creatives: charts, trading platforms, a trader in a suit – every FX cliché in the book.
And you are correct if you think that at least some of these images can easily be used: they won’t stand out but perfectly convey the idea. While others…
… make zero sense.
Here’s another attempt: a slightly longer request with a tiny bit of figurative language: “Finance safe haven invest in gold.”
AI has ignored the context (safe haven part) and created a fairly standard gold trading creative.
Fine, and what if we used actual sentences and fed the AI with more context?
“Gold and Silver price today Precious metal trade higher ahead of the RBI monetary policy decision”:
Can you spot the differences? It seems that the AI does not understand the context and focuses on the words it recognizes, and you end up with similar creatives despite specific and very precise instructions.
All right, let’s take a financial news headline because headlines usually contain all the essential keywords. Using ready-made headlines is convenient, without having to formulate queries:
- “Day Trading Guide: 5 Swing Trading Stocks To Buy Today”
Our theory was that we would get more relevant images that better convey the concept by using specific industry terms along with keywords such as “day trading,” “swing trading,” and “stocks.”
No, we still got generic trading images. With a twist, guys, take a look:
Tip #3: Avoid the terms and try to describe what should be in the image instead of using headlines. Currently, the AI doesn't understand the context and focuses primarily on the popular words it recognizes, so you'll end up with generic creative that lacks specificity.
AI Creatives for Utilities
Attempt #4: The “Watch” problem
Once we were done with finance, we thought to try something more straightforward – Utility creatives, namely VPNs.
We’ve reviewed the most popular keywords used by our advertisers, analyzed the creatives, and tried to recreate them using AI.
Additionally, there was a typo in our query:
- “mobile utilite app security vpn watch football from forbidden location.”
As in the previous examples, the AI focused on words it recognized: football and watch.
Apparently, the AI can’t understand which part of speech a particular word belongs to. For example, the word “watch” was interpreted as a timepiece (noun) rather than a verb. So, what we ended up with were multiple stadiums and timepieces.
Our next step was to get rid of “watch” and try to generate something more relevant to VPN offers:
- “see football online for free VPN from any location.”
There is nothing particularly awkward about it – just the usual stock images and a desk with way too many gadgets.
There was no turning back at that point, and we decided to go all in.
We used several different keywords – different types of utilities – to see how AI would merge those terms.
- “Apps weather forecasts, world clocks, or currency converters”
We concluded that if you give multiple words in a prompt without a clear logic or connection – the AI will just pick the one it understands and create a generic picture.
Driven by the desire to get a good, working creative for VPN, we decided to go back to basics and try a one-word prompt: “VPN.”
Fotor failed spectacularly:
The same prompt in MidJourney:
What? Why? How in the world is that connected to a VPN? So, the bottom line here is that abbreviations definitely don’t do the job.
Tip #4: Using too many keywords is pointless and will lead to "magic" trading or just wholly irrelevant images that have nothing to do with the original request.
AI Creatives for Gaming
Attempt #5: Games you don’t want to play
Our last and final attempt was dedicated to gaming. What could be easier than games, right? That’s what we thought. Adorably naive after all those failures.
We tried single keywords, keywords with context, multiple keywords, figurative language, and entire sentences; only reverse psychology was left up our sleeve.
One of the top ad copy pieces affiliates like to use in their push is “Don’t play this game.” Immortal classic.
That’s what we got:
The word “play” is a natural one for games. But MidJourney is a bit conservative with this word and interprets it only as a card game.
These creatives are by far the most unique and can easily be used for a suitable offer. Still, they also hardly convey the essence of online games.
How do you get usable creatives for different niches?
Obviously, our experiments were limited to two easily accessible online tools, and you may be able to get better results using more expensive AI image generators and spending more time searching for different keyword combinations.
However, we can outline the general guidelines for more successful AI image generation:
- 1. Be specific and use the literal meaning of the words; figurative language hardly does the job.
- 2. Check the images carefully. They may look “normal” at first glance, but upon closer inspection, you will find extra fingers, strange elements, and weird bugs.
- 3. Multiple keywords without strong logical connection do not equal more precise images. The AI will randomly select the words to focus on, and you will get one-sided concepts.
- 4. Mind the parts of the speech. If possible, try to avoid verbs that can be perceived as nouns.
- 5. Don’t use industry terms; the AI won’t understand them.
- 6. Mixing unrelated keywords will only cause the AI to focus on a familiar word and either ignore the rest or add particularly strange elements.
Julia adds: “For media buyers who are primarily focused on ROI, it’s a good idea to stay on the practical side. Check the images with your inner skeptic. Dragons and elves generated by Midjourney are nice to look at. But are they clickable enough? If it’s a performance campaign, you want to see a decent CTR to get your users down the funnel. So, your main task with the image will be to find the balance between uniqueness and engagement.
For the best results, I would recommend checking both AI-generating services and good old spy services. This way, you’ll get an idea of how to differentiate your creative from the competition while still getting enough clicks.”
That’s it for today! We hope you had fun and learned from our mistakes.
Share your “best” AI creative fails on our Telegram chat, let’s have some fun!