PPC Heresy

by Todd Mintz July 14th, 2010 

"All this worldly wisdom was once the unamiable heresy of some wise man…" Henry David Thoreau

Lincoln in Dalivision

PPC veterans such as myself know that in order to achieve successful sales / lead generation via paid search, all three elements of a paid search campaign (keyword list, ad copy, and landing page) need to work in perfect harmony. While I would not directly challenge the sanctity of the PPC Holy Trinity, I do have a little "sacrilege" that I would like to introduce into the process.

For optimum paid search campaign results, there must be a tight nexus between the keyword list and the landing page offered to the visitor. The keywords used must be focused and unambiguously relevant to the landing page which needs the right mixture of design, content, and conversion architecture so that the PPC effort ROI´s for the business. However, it´s in the ad copy where I might have a bit of a bone to pick with some of the other PPC bloggers out there. I have seen a number of articles show examples where a higher CTR did not equate to a higher ROI. I´m certainly not doubting these folks ran comparisons and came up with this data. However, I am suggesting that if the PPC keyword list and landing page are truly optimized for the highest conversion, the highest ad CTR should lead to the highest ROI and the person running the account should attempt to ramp up the ad CTR by any means necessary respectful to and in keeping with visitor expectations.

It´s been my experience that it´s really hard to encapsulate the needs of the bulk of searchers in the text of one ad. Many would respond that one needs to try lots of different ad copy in order to measure the results and while experimentation will generate winners and losers, even the best performing ad copy will exclude the needs of many of the site visitors, holding down CTR to a below optimum rate. Also since the promises of the ad copy might be a poor match with the landing page for others, ROI is less than optimum.

I´ve found ShoeMoney´s "arrow ad" strategy to be perfect for maxing out ad CTR in practically any vertical. I don´t recall any situation I´ve been in where the arrow ads had less CTR than "conventional" PPC ads and similarly, "arrow ad" ROI has exceeded any other ad text alternative. Google bolds PPC ad text that matches the user query and ads that have the maximum bolded text (especially in this recognizable shape) are more likely to be clicked by searchers. Furthermore, I rarely see a poor or even average quality score with an "arrow ad" in any one of my campaigns (7 is the most prevalent number).

I think there is a very powerful psychology with the "arrow ads" that causes them to perform well. A typical PPC ad is written to be memorable to the searcher…to convince…to cajole…to offer an expectation that is hopefully met by the landing page. Setting up a visitor thusly offers an increased chance for disappointment since even the best written ad can´t encapsulate the needs and expectations of all. "Arrow Ads" are designed to be the ultimate conduit between the keyword and the landing page…generally offering just the searcher´s keywords plus a minimal amount of frequently banal descriptive modifying text. A decent percentage of these ads are rendered as ungrammatical gobblygook. However, I´ll argue against conventional wisdom and say that´s not a bad thing but actually quite positive.

A prospect coming from an "arrow ad" doesn´t carry with them the same expectations as one coming from a conventional PPC ad. Their mind is more open to suggestion and if the landing page is compelling, any preconceived notions normally generated from a typical ad won´t get in the way of the conversion process. The visitor will attempt to complete the mapping of his / her searched term that began with the query, furthered by the ad copy, and completed by the landing page. The perfectly written arrow ad is so neutral in tone and content that it will be immediately forgotten by the visitor after the click is made. Such perfectly seamless ads make the journey between the keyword and landing page closer and more smooth…hence, higher CTR and ROI naturally results.

The wonder nature of maxed-out dynamic keyword insertion (besides its increased performance) is that it makes ad copy testing somewhat redundant (though different DKI options can and should be tested). The ad automatically morphs to the individual needs of each relevant searcher. You can spend extra time on your keyword research or your landing pages instead of futilely brainstorming new ideas for ad text.


Todd Mintz

Todd Mintz knows PPC...knows Social Media...knows SEO...knows Blogging...knows Domaining...and knows them all real well. He also is on the Board of Directors at SEMpdx, runs his own side gigs and tweets quite a bit.


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6 Responses to “PPC Heresy”

  1. Brent says:

    Quick question. If the ppc arrow is working effectively, have you tried to implement the same technique on a landing page? Just wondering? I think I will give it a test on my next set of landing pages. Thanks again Todd for the article.

  2. "All this worldly wisdom was once the unamiable heresy of some wise man…" Henry David Thoreau

    This quote made my day… thanks for posting!

  3. Todd Mintz says:

    Brent, I haven't.

  4. Sally Dillon says:

    Hi Todd – You write so well. I have been working on my CTR and appreciate the recommendation of "arrow ads." I have no idea what they are yet but I'm going to find out right now! Sally
    .-= Sally Dillon recently posted: Facebook Ad Power – A Review For Marketers Tired of Google Adwords =-.

  5. Sally Dillon says:

    Todd – I didn't know about the "comment luv" and didn't mean for that article to be there. I didn't write it. A guest author posted it on my blog.

  6. Todd,

    I can probably attribute a percentage of my "recognition" as a domain consultant and expert to you from just one article you wrote about me when we first met back in 2007.

    You're a quiet, calm, introspective type. I'm a "in your face, what!!!?, this is the way it is" kind of person. How you still treat me as a friend, I am amazed. I purposely hassle my male "associates" to see if they have what it takes to be my friend and teach me lessons.

    In this case, when I came across your article here, with the statement:

    "Google bolds PPC ad text that matches the user query and ads that have the maximum bolded text (especially in this recognizable shape) are more likely to be clicked by searchers. Furthermore, I rarely see a poor or even average quality score with an "arrow ad" in any one of my campaigns (7 is the most prevalent number)."

    What surprised me is that you failed to include the SEO shredding fact that a keyword descriptive domain, whose "keywords" match up to the "bolded text" on a search query, can be purchased for clients who will FOREVER obtain those typein users who do a browser typein on "eagleeyeballs.com". A company wanting to "own" their keyword phrases" should do exactly what you state here – which is "search the keywords in quotes on an SE, and find how many other advertisers are buying/bidding those keyword phrases in adwords." A company that wants to OWN their competition online will buy these domain names, for whatever the cost. Why? Because they can list their domains in google or yahoo or other SE adword bidding, and they can bid LOW, since most users seeing the page results on the query will see the exact keywords they searched for BOLDED.

    The point is, the business can bid the lowest amount on the keywords of their prodservs, because most users will drawn to the BOLDED KEYWORDS that the SE's present in the search query results. Your own studies how that if some company calls themselves "ABCTHEBIGGIES.COM" and bid on "EAGLE" as a general keyword to draw in more eyeballs, they will LOSE traffic to the company that has a "backbranded" link that exactly matches the user's search terms.

    So, if ABCTHEBIGGIES.COM pays $.50 a click for the search word "EAGLES", they could easily lose their recognition factor to a company that bought "eagleeyeballs.com" and only bid $.08 a click. That's because those keywords will already be highlighted within the adlink's link – matching the search keywords exactly. So the adlinks with the exact keywords searched for will show up bolded regardless of how much they paid for the adlink. This is a HUGE moneysaver for the lucky company who paid $5000 for the exact keyword domain phrase representing their prodservs, and better still, their competitors' prodservs.

    It's a no brainer to think your competitors will be pissed off when they're trying to SEO market "Eagle Eyeballs" when YOUR COMPANY owns the domain name "EAGLEEYEBALLS.COM". It really makes your competitors feel stupid everytime they use the phrase for selling "eagle eyeballs" when YOUR COMPANY OWNS THE DOMAIN. So, your competitors constantly promote your website each time they mention the keyword phrases that your company owns as domains.

    This isn't rocket science. In fact, it makes SEO experts smarter to understand this simple "equation" to website promotion. Keyword phrase domains that exactly describes the prodservs of the company, should be owned by the smartest company. Now to find out which company is the "smartest."

    They'll show up as ads, and the keywords will be BOLDED..