Writing Ad Copy In 2015

This week Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro) came up with yet another great question set titled “Writing Ad Copy In 2015.” The following is the transcribed Streamcap from the live chat:

Q1: Do you believe ad aesthetics matter more than ad content? Why or why not?

  • Aesthetic draws the eye, content gets the click. Both important. – Robert Brady (@robert_brady)
  • There has to be a balance. Aesthetics matter in higher positions, content more in lower. People naturally click on higher pos so I feel content isn’t AS important there. Need to be more appealing lower . – Dan Lewis (@danlewis8)
  • No, other elements are important but ad copy still crucial to getting the right people to click and convert. – Timothy Jensen (@timothyjjensen)
  • As a whole, especially with text ads, I don’t believe a really creative ad gets you the click anymore. It needs to look snappy with an extended headline, dynamic copy, and/or ad extensions. – Matt Umbro
  • Ad real estate is pretty important, but if your enhanced sitelinks will never show, best not to waste time on them. – Gil Hong (@Gil__Hong)
  • Internal studies point to ad extensions getting few clicks – but increasing CTRs of ads by 25% when shown – so I lean aesthetic. – Mark Irvine (@MarkIrvine89)
  • Consumers definitely have a tendency to give the click to the most visually friendly ad. Take advantage of the additional space. – Amy Valleskey (@amy_valleskey)
  • Since extensions are only shown in top positions data is skewed towards them working. Segmenting shows they get few clicks. – Steve Cameron (@adventcom)
    • Right, but even though the extensions aren’t clicked themselves, they improve CTR on ad headlines. – Matt Umbro
  • Not sure I understand question. Ad copy is far more impactful than extensions. – Steve Gibson (@stevegibsonppc)
  • Aesthetics have larger impact in display image ads than text based paid search ads. Text ads are horrible for branding purposes. – James Svoboda (@Realicity)
    • I’d agree images/graphics usually most important factor for image ad ctr. – Steve Gibson
  • Images have the biggest impact on CTR for social/display ads. – Jonathan Ng (@ThankYouJon)
  • Sometimes I wonder if having a basic ad in position #1 could outperform the extension-enhanced juggernauts we see now. – Robert Brady
  • You should marry aesthetics and content. Enhance the ad copy using extensions, call outs, etc. – Olin Down (@olinjdowns)
  • Aesthetics can help with real estate, but offers and relatability gets the click. – Erika Schmidt (@erikapdx)
  • Also don’t forget simple things like ™ & ® in ad copy and dropping www in display URLs! The little asthetics make a difference. – Christi Olson (@ChristiJOlson)
  • Visualizations can help stand out from comp. But content addresses algos & user intent, which at LEAST as important. – Matt Vaillancourt (@SEM_PPC_MattV)
  • Solid Ad content is the backbone. Aesthetics is a competition differentiator. – Jake Waldrop (@Jakew1541)
  • I will say that I write at least 1 ad in every group to have the extended headline. – Matt Umbro
  • Cop out answer: It’s all about finding the perfect balance. – Nicole Mintiens (@Tregesy)
  • The basic ad would stand out simply because it DIDN’T have all the bells & whistles. Plus, shorter. – Robert Brady
  • The more you can do to standout with aesthetics the more attention you garner, but w/out good copy, youre wasting your time. – Bryce Liggins (@BryceLiggins)
  • Extensions and formats are easy to cover so there’s no reason to do without them. Being creative is harder. – Martin Roettgerding (@bloomarty)
  • For branded terms, shiny beats content. For non-brand, the latter. – Aaron Levy (@bigalittlea)
  • Certain verticals, more visual ads = winners (PLAs, Dyn Rmktg). so aesthetic matters. Text ads, it’s more about space taken up. – Maddie Cary (@MaddieMarketer)
  • Aesthetics will catch their attention. Good content will keep it. So which do you value more? – Spencer Hudon (@SpencerHudonII)

Q2: What do you believe is the most out of date ad copy creative common practice? Why?

  • Writing your ads with a list of buzzwords/synonyms open. Use your brain! – Gil Hong
  • May get skewered for this, but you don’t always need a CTA. Sometimes it’s a waste of space, better served by value props. – Aaron Levy
  • Capitalising the first letter in each word. I find 90% of the time, it loses to normal sentence grammar. – Steve Gibson
  • Trying ot use the KW too much for QS sake. Rather see it used in balance with creativity. – Mark Kennedy (@markkennedysem)
  • Non-creative creative. – Nicole Mintiens
  • Using CTAs like “Buy Now!” or “Contact Us!” without offering a reason why. – Joe Martinez (@MilwaukeePPC)
  • Badly thought out DKI. – Steve Cameron
  • Keyword Insertion! Need to be unique in your title and people want value, not just confirmation of what they searched with tightly knit groups, you can make the title relevant and unique. – Dan Lewis
    • 100% truth, but I’ve found that doing that the more creative I try and be the more I kill qs and ad copy relevance. – Katy Strawther (@Azure_Adore)
    • Eh, I like it for mega-product titles (40 char headline ftw), but defaulting to it = bad bad. – Aaron Levy
  • Adding a “!” to the last line. Seems like a last ditch effort to fool us into being excited for you! – Mark Irvine
  • Buy Now! – Roxana Hassel (@RoxanaHassel)
  • Just the word “now” in general – this isn’t an infomercial. – Matt Umbro
  • Looking for a {Keyword}? Congrats, you figured out how Google works. – Mark Irvine
  • Excessive use of a kw in the headline and ad copy…use the extra characters to play up other need to know info. – Amy Valleskey
  • DKI. Who has keywords short enough to use it anymore, anyhow? – Amanda Sides (@amanda_sides)
  • So many out of date practices! Forgetting To Use The Same Case With {keyword} As The Rest Of Your Ad Copy. – Christi Olson
  • Using buzzwords or fluffy messaging w/o explaining benefits. Nobody cares about your fancy words, just the prod/servs’ benefits. – Matt Vaillancourt
  • Ad copy that’s not related to the keyword/promo/site because the CLIENT has branding guidelines that don’t mesh with PPC. Another out of date practice is including a Promo Code in the ad copy and not mentioning it on the LP or on the site. – Christi Olson
  • I’m guilty of always adding a “!” to an ad. Does it actually excite searchers? Do they see it & go “OMG MUST CLICK”? Doubt it. – Maddie Cary
  • “LIMITED TIME OFFER!” “You Are Pre-Qualified!” “Need ___?” No it’s not, No I’m not, and No, I don’t. – Spencer Hudon

Q3: What are some unique ways you are using ad copy customizers?

  • Honestly I wish they were more… uh. customizable. For now, just countdowns and %off shifts. Mini lifts, nothing major. – Aaron Levy
  • This isn’t unique, but I love a good old COUNTDOWN for urgency. – Margot da Cunha (@ChappyMargot)
  • For those who saw my HeroConf presentation you know I used the customizer to count down the days until spring began! – Matt Umbro
  • Sales & Promotion Countdowns. Create a sense of urgency. – Jake Waldrop
  • Probably nothing *unique.* Just consistently testing & replacing underperformers with new variables. Forever. – Matt Vaillancourt
  • Automatically updating speaker and date in promoting our own agency’s seminars every month. Only testing now. – Joe Martinez
  • Not currently using, but I’d like to use to help scale dynamic pricing for large inventories. – Gil Hong
  • In an ideal world, for eComm I’d have a price & product database to auto update pricing and availability in ad copy. – Christi Olson
  • You can never go wrong with a good promo countdown…get that offer before it runs out people! – Amy Valleskey
  • Most applicable for my clients is the countdown ad customizer. But I’d love to test the new geo ad customizer rolling out. – Maddie Cary
  • Customizers are light way to easily update ads, Keep historical data and update “modules”more than price and countdown. – Steve Hammer (@armondhammer)

Q4: What makes a great social ad (through Twitter, FB, etc)? Why?

  • A good image above all. People are drawn to pictures vs. words. – Melissa Mackey
  • Engagement – social networks are meant for interaction. – Dave Rosborough
  • Visually engaging & fun. Possibly interactive. They’re “social” for a reason. – Margo da Cunha
  • Something That Doesn’t Include Proper Capitalization And Shop Now CTA’s! Something that feels like content – organic & human. – Aaron Levy
  • Content that engages and opens a subtle gate to further action (conversion). – Roxana Hassel
  • Imagery and “tasteful” humor. or as Shakespeare in Love put it: “Comedy and a bit with a dog.”
  • Focusing on engagement first, users did not necessarily show search intent when shown a social ad. – Gil Hong
  • Come for the visuals, stay for the writing, & engagement cues. – Leo Sussan (@lsussan)
  • For FB, a well chosen pic is massively beneficial. But targeting & understanding audience is #1 factor. – Steve Gibson
  • Visual appeal…for FB anyways. You can’t grab my attention with the copy on that platform. – Amy Valleskey
  • Nailing the targeting. Relevance always wins out. Be there when they’re looking. – Jake Waldrop
  • Cleavage. J/k (kinda) Attractive women draw attention as men love them and women want to be them per Tim Ash. – Nicole Mintiens
    • Truf, but they gotta be real. Fantasy airbrushed ladies (or gentlement…) generally lose on social. – Aaron Levy
  • Understanding your target’s demographics/interests/purpose on each of the platforms and speaking in that voice in the ad text. – Joe Martinez
  • As a social user & not a social ad expert, I’d say a great social ad is one that looks like organic content in my timeline. – Maddie Cary
  • Video ads on Facebook! And separate ad groups (different copy) for mobile / desktop. And hashtag targets on twitter. – Jen Salamandick (@jenrsal)
  • For FB, often best pic is pic of someone they hate. (Learned this from political ads.) – Steve Gibson
  • I used to love adwords, but seeing better CPA w/FB ads lately. Better targeting. Adwords needs custom audiences, FB has them beat. – Ryan Underdown (@Underdown)
  • Jokes are also great on social. Anything that can entertain me & awaken the pleasure side of the brain works well. – Margot da Cunha
  • Also answering questions while targeting audiences/interests people who have this questions would follow/like. – Roxana Hassel
  • The stronger the emotional response the better. – Steve Cameron
  • Make the ads about your targets’ line of work, wherever applicable. More probability for relevance. – Rohan Ayyar (@searchrook)
  • I’m a sucker for those “Did you survive the zombie apocalypse” ads. – Olin Downs
  • Social can be a minefield – keep your PR team in the loop. Nothing turns an ad’s performance around like negative comments. – Mark Irvine
  • I would also agree that the targeting needs to be spot on. How can you get the engagement when it’s not relevant? – Amy Valleskey
  • I’ve noticed image used influences CTR the most. Same ad copy can vary +/- 2% CTR just changing the picture. – Jake Waldrop
  • IMHO a engaging or eye catching picture is a must and the picture should be targeted to specific users based on interests. – Christi Olson
  • Joking on Social is good and all, but I’ve seen too many instances of huge backfires and audience uproars. Don’t take it too far. – Dave Rosborough (@daverosborough)

Q5: How do you go about your ad copy creation process?

  • Think long and hard about the offering and goals. Look at KW’s/LP to make as relevant as possible. – Margot da Cunha
  • Read the client’s website. Look at competitors. Try to find USP. Get pissed off that there isn’t a usp. – Steve Gibson
  • Don’t create any ad until your images/design/copy on your landing page is in line with what you’re targeting. – Joe Martinez
  • KW research, headache, A-B test, repeat. – Roxana Hassel
  • Use the keyword(s) performing best in an adgroup and create copy around that. – Katy Strawther
  • Usually try to understand the clients core values first… but if legal’s invovled. – Gil Hong
  • My number one thought is always how I’m going to make my ad stand out. – Matt Umbro
  • Find the sweet spot connecting Keyword to Landing Page. A mix of High Volume KWs and Value proposition of your landing page. – Jake Waldrop
  • A number of processes inclucing a brainstormig component. – Jeremy Brown (@JBGuru)
  • Google the KWs yourself, evaluate other’s successes/failures – do better than all those fools. – Mark Irvine
  • I know it’s controversial, but ultimately, I think searchers only REALLY read headline, price, & company name in display URL. – Maddie Cary
    • I completely agree here. Watching my youngest sister navigate the web – she doesn’t read just clicks. – JD Prater
    • That’s only controversial because you’re wasting all that extra ad space. – Jonathan Maltz
  • Using search query data to match audience’s voice, desire and intent. – Nicole Mintiens
  • 1. Matching client biz terms w/ kw intent & volume 2. Copy low hanging fruit from other channels 3. Differentiation. – Rohan Ayyar
  • Always check to make sure the ad is actually aligned with your goals. It’s easy to go overly creative & forget the purpose. – Spencer Hudon
  • Always thought Jumpfly was onto something with their “DONT TRY ADWORDS…” ads they used to run. Disrupts & forces closer look. – Dave Rosborough
  • Ad copy creation is a backwards process: client values -> offers -> landing pages -> targeted ad groups -> ad copy -> A/B test. – Erika Schmidt
  • I usually make a matrix of key value props, figure out where client wins. Then, test/tweak/finagle/profit/celebrate/repeat. – Aaron Levy
  • Don’t let your goal stray too far from the consumer’s. We love data and testing, but don’t confuse them with the destination. – Amy Valleskey

Q6: What are some techniques you use when writing mobile ad copy? Why?

  • Use CTAs relevant to mobile….ie: “Call Now” – Kimberly Wingo (@wimmiekingo)
  • Remembering the context of the small screen. Have a phone out and do some related searches you can also apply the same strategy with tablets…. oh wait nvm. – Gil Hong
  • Try to understand how a mobile user will interact with Google/your site on the go. – Jonathan Maltz
  • Short, sweet, and too the point because mobile searchers have ADD. – Margo da Cunha
  • D1 + D2 combined are never more than 60 characters to avoid possible truncation. – Matt Umbro
  • Try to get a well-thought out CTA in there. They’re already on the go…get them to the end point faster. – Amy Valleskey
  • Be concise. CTA & value prop in headline and first line in case you get cut off. – Nicole Mintiens
  • In some cases, you can try to focus on mobile intent – eg. directing them to come into a store with an offer. – Mark Kennedy
  • ‘Shop on Your Phone’, etc. does well. Referencing device provides context that helps conversions. – Jeremy Brown
  • Encourage phone calls (hint: call-only and click to call) over going to an LP. – Margot da Cunha
  • Replicate Comp/Tablet ads in Mobile. Put everything at same baseline, let data tell you what needs changing. – Matt Vaillancourt
  • Put my value statement or CTA in the first desc. line in case the second line is not shown. – Joe Martinez
  • Go to your mobile site on your own phone. From there, decide a reasonable CTA for your ad. No mobile site? – Mark Irvine
  • Stay to the point (go easy on the creativity) because of 1- fewer ads displayed 2- immediacy of intent. – Rohan Ayyar
  • Keep mobile copy short & don’t use full allotment of character limits in desc lines! Mobile won’t show 70 characters. – Rod Black (@rod_black)
  • Use radius targeting and write ad copy to explain location, “just five minutes away on the north side of 107th Street.” – Jen Salamandick
    • The main problem with this approach is the inaccuracy of geotargeting on mobile (GA thinks my phone is 40+ mi away). – Jonathan Maltz
  • Speak to a mobile user by using a mobile CTA (“buy from your mobile phone”) I also always use m. or /mobile display URLs. – Maddie Cary
  • Here are some mobile ad copy tips and specific CTAs. – Jeremy Brown
  • Always include the CTA in either Headline or D1. – Christi Olson
  • Always aiming for top position on Mobile. Very important to be above fold here. – Roxana Hassel

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Check out the PPCChat Twitter list to see and connect with all current and prior participants.

• Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro)
• James Svoboda (@Realicity)
• Paul Kragthorpe (@PaulKragthorpe)
• Aaron Levy (@bigalittlea)
• Amanda Sides (@amanda_sides)
• Amy Valleskey (@amy_valleskey)
• Bryce Liggins (@BryceLiggins)
• Christi Olson (@ChristiJOlson)
• Dan Lewis (@danlewis8)
• Dave Rosborough (@daverosborough)
• Erika Schmidt (@erikapdx)
• Gil Hong (@Gil__Hong)
• Jake Waldrop (@Jakew1541)
• Jen Salamandick (@jenrsal)
• Jeremy Brown (@JBGuru)
• Joe Martinez (@MilwaukeePPC)
• Jonathan Ng (@ThankYouJon)
• Katy Strawther (@Azure_Adore)
• Kimberly Wingo (@wimmiekingo)
• Leo Sussan (@lsussan)
• Maddie Cary (@MaddieMarketer)
• Margot da Cunha (@ChappyMargot)
• Mark Irvine (@MarkIrvine89)
• Mark Kennedy (@markkennedysem)
• Martin Roettgerding (@bloomarty)
• Matt Vaillancourt (@SEM_PPC_MattV)
• Nicole Mintiens (@Tregesy)
• Olin Down (@olinjdowns)
• Robert Brady (@robert_brady)
• Rod Black (@rod_black)
• Rohan Ayyar (@searchrook)
• Roxana Hassel (@RoxanaHassel)
• Ryan Underdown (@Underdown)
• Spencer Hudon (@SpencerHudonII)
• Steve Cameron (@adventcom)
• Steve Gibson (@stevegibsonppc)
• Steve Hammer (@armondhammer)
• Timothy Jensen (@timothyjjensen)

Writing Streamcaps in 2015

This is a guest post by Paul Kragthorpe; works at WebRanking in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Connect with Paul @PaulKragthorpe, and Google Plus.

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