Is your PPC ad copy up to scratch?

4 years ago by Arek Estall

As a digital agency, you can imagine we see a lot of PPC ads.

Every day we search through hundreds of phrases, both for our clients and as market research.

One thing that never ceases to surprise us, is the quality of ad copy.  Or in fact, the lack of.

What constitutes a "poor quality ad"

Ad quality is a matter of opinion, of course. But the All Trousers definition of a "poor quality ad" is quite clear.

Poor quality ads include no sense of what makes the business different, no link to the business strategy. If it's an empty statement, it's a poor quality ad. These statements may seem OK on the face of things, but will always fall short on performance such as CTR and generating quality conversions.

For instance, take this ad from O2 Business, for the term "business mobile phone". Aside from the awkward capitalization, the ad is a treasure-trove of PPC shit.

O2 AdWords advert

The issues:

  • It doesn't actually say what you've searched for (business mobile phones)
  • It sends you to a generic business landing page, rather than a specific page about mobile phones
  • It doesn't tell you anything about the O2 experience - how about telling me why I should even "Shop Today"?
  • What constitutes a "good quality ad"
  • To even things out, let's compare that with a "better" ad.

An example from EE, one we much like more.

Well done to EE, you've nailed your target audience (small businesses).  You've enriched your ad with a phone number and a rating.  And you've even said what product you sell.  Are you watching, O2?

EE AdWords Advert

The EE advert could be improved even further, with some better call-outs and sitelinks, but it's a big improvement on the O2 ad.

Why do so many (big) companies get it wrong?

How did this happen?  Big companies, pushing out digital campaigns with such poor quality ads?

The biggest issue in our view is treating digital marketing in silo, as if it were an add-on to the marketing function.  An afterthought.

If a company like O2 hires an agency, they may want them to get on with it - isn't that why they outsourced?  Our view is that the agency should be pushing back, insisting on getting the relevant information.

Sometimes the issue can be that the digital function is in-house.  This may be due to a lack of authority for digital within the business - after all, it may not be considered a core strategic function.  Again, this is where some push-back is needed, though it's not always easy as an internal team.  

If the existing team doesn't have the necessary weight, it can be worth hiring an external agency to help focus PPC development and perhaps provide a less popular view, without creating internal politics.

The solution to better quality ads

If your PPC campaigns are underperforming due to poor quality ads, here are four options:

  • If you outsource, and your agency is doing a bad job, switch to an agency who know what they are doing.  Take a more active role in managing performance.
  • If your internal team lacks specific expertise, you could hire an external PPC consultancy like All Trousers, who can help you achieve ads that feel a true reflection of what you're offering - and help train your team
  • If your digital team has the skills but is not communicating effectively, they may need more input from other functions (such as product teams and strategic teams).  This can be achieved through knowledge-sharing workshops or better internal comms.
  • If internal politics is holding you back, bringing an external consultant can help overcome barriers.  For example a strategy consultancy such as James Good who we work closely with could be a good choice.  They act as an impartial voice, acting in the best interests of your business

Interested? Let's talk

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