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Is less more when it comes to your Google ad copy?.
17 Jan 2011
<strong>Headline: 25 characters</strong> <strong>Description Line 1: 35 Characters</strong> <strong>Description Line 2: 35 Characters</strong> <strong>Display URL: 35 Characters</strong> As an Adwords advertiser, the above are the parameters we have to work with when creating our Ad Copy.
Headline: 25 characters Description Line 1: 35 Characters Description Line 2: 35 Characters Display URL: 35 Characters As an Adwords advertiser, the above are the parameters we have to work with when creating our Ad Copy.
Let’s face it. It’s really not a huge amount of characters to work with. Let’s consider that an effective PPC ad text should ideally contain the keyword that the user searched for within the text in order to look relevant and stand out. Furthermore, it ideally should also contain any USPs you are able to offer over your competitors to help you stand out and appeal to potential customers. Finally, the perfect type of ad will also be written in a tone that appeals to the right types of users, but also puts off the wrong types. (For example, let’s say you sell expensive watches and want to bid on the term ‘watches’. A user that searches for this term could be after cheap watches, or they could be after expensive watches. Your ad should therefore make it clear what type of watches you sell to avoid wasted click spend from the users seeking cheap watches). That’s a lot of things to consider for such a short space! As a result, paid search advertisers (myself included), often try to think of every little trick possible to squeeze as much out of this space as possible. I have always tended to use as much of the 25, 35, 35, 35 limits as possible; as this has felt like the only way I can get the full message across that I want. In some market sectors though, you may be one advertiser out of a possible ten who have all got the same sort of idea. The end result? A page of search results where no individual ad stands out from any other. Users more often than not in my experience will then opt for the ads in positions 1 to 3, as the eye is drawn more to the centre of the page above the fold. You could simply bid higher to ensure your ad is seen in these positions, but for campaigns with tight budgets or working towards low CPAs, being in the top positions isn’t always feasible due to the higher costs involved.
So what’s the answer?
Clearly as advertisers in this situation, we need to find ways of standing out from the crowd. When users run searches on Google, more often than not, they will take only a matter of seconds to scan the results page before deciding which paid ad, or organic search result to click on. As a result, even the smallest subtle difference between your ad and your competitors can help you stand out. This may be the use of a symbol in your ad such as ™ or © to help you get noticed. Alternatively, you may look to numerically bullet point your key product offerings or USPs in the main ad text (e.g. 1) Buy Joe Bloggs Product Now 2) Free P&P 3) Fast Delivery!). I have tried the above techniques on a number of campaigns and see varying results. However, a new method I’ve been trialling recently is what I would call the ‘Less is More’ approach. I feel that I’ve become so fixated on trying to get the most out of every single character available to me, that sometimes taking the opposite approach can work surprisingly well too. One of the markets I currently do a lot of work in is the magazine sector. Whilst the examples below are fictional, the theories behind the content are based on similar ads I’ve written and real results that I’ve experienced. The example below is similar to a typical ad I have run with initially utilising as much of the ad space as possible whilst also ensuring I included a USP and relevance of the product. Typical results: CTR – 4% Conversion Rate – 9.5% Using the ‘Less is More’ approach, for my next advert test, I decided to actually try and cut down on the number of characters I was using to see if this would help my ad stand out from the crowd and came up with something along these lines: Typical results: CTR – 7% Conversion Rate – 8.5% A nice high surge in click through rate – brilliant! Interestingly though, the conversion rate fell slightly which I put down to the decreased information about the USP (some users may have presumed they would get 6 free issues as a one off, whereas the deal is for 6 initial free issues, then if they choose not to cancel, they then start paying). However, as I’m now recording a much higher CTR, although my average CPA is a little higher (but still within target), my conversion numbers overall are far bigger. At this point, I wonder if I can push it even further, and so decided to push the ‘Less is More’ theory even further to produce one final test: Typical results: CTR – 9% Conversion Rate – 7% Once again, another nice increase in click through rate! Now, if you visualise the above advert in a search results page full of adverts that look my first ad example up the page, you can see how an ad using less characters could stand out in the crowd. Again, we see an increase in click through rate, yet a decrease in conversion rate. This saw the average CPA rise again, but once more, with the large increase in click through rate, conversion volumes were much higher. So in summary, in the tests I’ve carried out, having shorter, punchier ad copy messages certainly has a positive impact on clickthrough rate. Whether that positive impact is due to the adverts standing out more from their competitors in search results, or whether using less information makes those ads more intriguing to click on remains to be seen. One thing is clear though, and that is that showing less information in your adverts in order to stand out can have a detrimental impact on your conversion rate based on the results I’ve seen (which when you think about it, isn’t surprising at all). However, as an advertiser, you must weight up the balance between the two. Do you make a higher profit from acquiring 50 conversions at £10 a conversion compared to 30 conversions at £7.50 a conversion? If you can afford it, and volume is key, then less may well be more. Have you tried advert tests similar to those mentioned in this post? If so, please drop me a comment – I’d like to hear what kind of results you found too.