What is your method to writing a text ad for your search campaigns? I have probably been asked that question more times than I care to answer. And while I don’t claim to be a copywriting genius like the boys on Mad Men, I have learned a few things after writing a couple thousand ads. As with any search campaign the primary goal of a well-written ad is to draw the click, and bring the searcher to your website. And while I am not forgetting about relevancy we aren’t going to address it in this post, but we will in the near future. Here is a quick outline that I use when building new ads for a search campaign.
Headline (25 Characters) – Use your brand in the headline with an additional modifier when you have room. For example a headline that might catch the eye of Wile E. Coyote would be “Sale at Acme Anvils.” Many articles have been written and posted on the subject not to use your brand in the headline, but in my experience you will get better performance with inclusion. After writing thousands of text ads and running them in tandem in the same ad groups as A/B tests, the ads with branded headlines have CTR’s 100 to 150 basis points higher than those headlines which are unbranded.
Descriptive Line 1 (35 Characters) – This line should be your differentiation statement, or the purpose statement of the ad. Make yourself stand out from the competition with this line. If we continue with our Acme Anvil example from before we might say something like: “Our Anvils Drop Like Nobody Else.” Or if you want to highlight your anvil sale go ahead and include that in your descriptive line 1: “20% Off All Anvils in Stock.” The use of numbers and symbols in the text of the ad attracts a person’s eye and is more likely to draw a click, but don’t go overboard on symbols as your ads will be disapproved.
Descriptive Line 2 (35 Characters) – This line is reserved for your call to action, tell the searcher what you expect them to do once they read your ad. A good call to action for our anvil store would be something like: “Shop Our Online Store, Today!” or “Get Iron-Clad Deals Today!” In the past I have also used “Free Shipping” in this line, but with the inclusion of Callout Extensions and Structure Snippet Extensions you will have to examine your own data and find which works best for your ads and the click through rate.
Display URL (35 Characters) – This is the fourth and final line of your text ad, which will contain your display URL, or simply put your upper level domain. One trick I will point out here that can help your quality score is to work in a relevant keyword as the subdomain, that is if you have room and if the keyword is contained in your ad group. Please don’t forget that all display URL’s have to be the same for all ads within an ad group. I have spoken with more than one frustrated campaign manager who has ad groups offline because their display URL’s weren’t consistent across all ads.
Layout an intelligent strategy for your text ads before you have written the first one, and you will find your ads will get a lot more clicks with more traffic to your website. The strategy laid out above is my method to the madness when I write text ads for my search campaigns. Of course these are not strict, unbreakable rules, thus I bend and break them all the time to suit the strategy of the campaign. As I mentioned above, Callout and Structured Snippet Extensions are valuable pieces of ad real estate that can really serve to enhance the ad that they accompany. Move things around and experiment a bit with the Call to Action and your Callout Extensions, and look for another post to follow this one that addresses what I have found with those extensions.
Addendum – please be aware the character limits on text ads will be adjusted in 2016 and 2017.