Archive for February, 2010
Feb 10

If you have been writing Ad copies online and offline for some time, you know variations in Ad copy matters. In Paid Search in particular, visitors spend no more than a few seconds looking at organic search and sponsored results. Some studies have shown most visitors look at sponsored results in clutters, which means most of them will hardly read the Ad. 

I was curious to find out what made a good Ad copy stands out for the competitors. In particular whether the good old principles of advertising still apply in the digital area. In Ogilvy’s 1963 book ‘confession of an advertising man‘, he laid out a number of tips to write effective ad copies. Let’s see how many of these are still relevant today:

Tip 1 ”On the average, 5 times as many people read the headlines as read the body copy’. 
The headline remains the center price of any Google (or other Search Engine) Ad. It makes about 25% of total ad space allocation. Typically, it includes dynamic keyword insertion where search queries are added automatically to things such as the headline, display UR etc. 

Tip 2”Inject news in the headline”
What might have been true during Ogilvy’s time is a hard thing to do in Paid Search, given space limitations of 25 characters. But if you can find creative ways to make your headline sounds like newsworthy, go for it. Keywords such as ”announcing”, ”new”, ”available now” have higher click-through-rates. 

Tip 3 ”The two most powerful words are ‘NEW’ and ‘FREE”
These words definitely attract more eyeballs. The value of adding the word ‘FREE’ is a bit ambiguous. Some industry observers like Google Lady recommend to stay away from any Ad copies which includes freebies. Since advertisers pay per click, you might want to stay away from freebies hunter. They will hard convert anyway. The third keyword that has great success online is ‘OFFICIAL’. Its popularity is probably due to the fact there is a lot of junk on the web and potential visitors pay more attention to any credible Ads. 

Tip 4 ”Other most powerful words include:” This is Ogilvy’s list,as published in 1963. 

And here are Google Lady’s favorites (February 2010): 

Once we take out all e-commerce jargon such as ‘download’, ‘free shipping”, the two lists look awfully similar!

Tip 5 ”Include your selling promise to your selling promise’
The selling promise became our value proposition but it’s pretty much the same idea than 40+ years ago.  Make your value proposition relevant, unique and differentiated. Don’t forget that in an online environment, any competitor can track changes in headlines in less than 24 hours and copy it in even less. 

Tip 6 ”Headlines should not contain more than 6 to 12 words”
It’s actually probably closer to 3 to 5 in Paid Search given the 25
characters space limitations. But the idea remains the same. Your Ad copy headline must telegraph your value proposition and entice potential customers to read description lines. Don’t forget the objective of your headline is not to sell, but to connect with your readers. 

Tip 7 ”Do not use obscure headlines”
Obscure headlines, particularly ones with negative can be confusing to potential customers. I have always been interesting to find out how effective these Ads can be online: 

As a summary, it’s interesting to see that most Ogilvy’s principles are still relevant today. I would think the primary differences lie in technology progress. Some semantics might have changed slightly ”download now” but the biggest changes are:

  1. Ability to dynamically create ads with customized keyword
  2. New functionalities such as geo-targeting, day-parting (change ads depending on time of the day) and demographics targeting (for Google’s content network for example)
  3. Stronger immediate call-to-action. Potential customers are now one click away to buy products and/or sign-up services. 
Feb 10

Last week, I was privileged to attend a roundtable with David Plouffe. David is known as the chief campaign manager for Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign in the United States. He is often credited for leveraging social media to organize a grassroots efforts, that eventually led to Obama’s victory. 

There was a flurry a questions but the one I asked him was around social media. When he started putting his campaign together, as early as 2006, there was not much social media activity. For example, Twitter was not even around. Social media had also hardly been used by politicians. In that context how did he figure out his social media strategy. 

The first thing he mentioned is that he did not really. The social media campaign grew organically. He highlighted that social media pioneers were naturally gravitating towards support Obama’s candidacy. It was then up to David’s team to foster an environment where these supporters could express themselves. Initially David created a platform (Obama’s web site primarily) where they could meet and exchange ideas. This quickly extended into other channels such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. David highlighted that the campaign did a good job in using genuine media such as videos (which look ‘real’) to give a flavour of authenticity to the campaign. What suprized him is that McCain’s campaign did not make full use of social media overall even though McCain invented the concept of online fundraising in 2000. 

David was also keen to stress that ‘old school’ techniques such as email marketing played the most active role in fundraising. According to the Guardian (UK newspaper), the campaign ”included a massive amount of classic door-to-door campaigning, harvested 13m email addresses. During the course of the presidential race more than 1bn emails were sent and people made 4m donations online. Total online donations topped a record $500m (£307m), with the average amount $85.”

It is likely the social media of his campaign was over-stated by the media. Nevertheless, he will be remembered as one of the first campaign managers who understood the concept of fostering community. Recently David announced he was working on another series of projects for Obama. 

Feb 10

Of course it does. Some people argue the busiest time of the day are morning hours when people get to work and check personal emails etc. Others think lunch time is actually a good time for officer workers to relax and surf the web. Another bunch of people discourage any online marketing at night when people are probably less willing to convert. Have you noticed a lot of daily auction web site such as send daily reminder an hour or so before lunch … As far as day of the week is concerned, it is generally accepted that Monday and Tuesdays are the busiest days of the week and activity drops over the week end.

What does this mean for us Search Marketers?

Well it depends on the industry type, target audiences, services offered etc. If you sell widgets to office workers, don’t expect much activity over the week end (even though these busy execs who work the week end might offer better conversion rates). A client of us sells financial services to individuals and their click through and conversions rates are pretty much consistent throughout the week. Their offering is not time/day sensitive and since most of their ads are on Google content network (real estate and personal finance publications for the most part), theirs ads come-up evenly during the week or week end.

Another client offers professional services to (mostly) women looking to remove clutter from their home. Mots of the ads are on the search network so they only come-up when people are actively looking queries in Google. The two graphs below show that they are more likely to click on PPC ads on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Thursdays and Friday see a slowdown in click through. Activity picks-up again over the week end. One of the busiest time of the week is Sunday evening.

The second graph illustrates the bulk of the activity comes between the hours of 10am to 4pm. There is a peak during lunch time.

Google AdWords offers a tool that enable bids adjustment depending on the time of the day. By experimenting higher and lower bids, Search Marketers can increase their PPC at times that matter.
Feb 10

So today we launched our first SEM Valet ad on LinkedIn. I was curious to go through the set-up process and know how effective these could be. 

It took about 2 minutes to set-up a new ad. In one way, the process is mimicked on Ad Words where advertisers write headline (25 characters) and two lines of text (35 characters limit). The ad also includes a display and actual URL. The major difference is the inclusion of a link to my LinkedIn profile. This is how it looks like:

When it came to targeting, LinkedIn offers fewer options than Ad Words for instance. Since this is essentially a content network, there is little information available on search queries, keywords options, expected CPC etc. 

This being said, LinkedIn has a decent set of localization and demographics targeting. I chose to focus on business owners in the US and Canada. Things like seniority, business function, age, gender etc … were not relevant to us here. LinkedIn estimated that our targeting available market was 408,471 professionals. If 5% of them are on LinkedIn every day and 0.05% of them click on the ad (this is based on banner advertising industry’s average CTR), then up to 10 people would click on the ad.  I then decided to be conservative and put it in a $2 targeted CPC and $10 daily budget. In other words, my hope is to get about 5 clicks a day. 

The LinkedIn ad settings look like this:

In a week from now, I should have preliminary data on early CPC and click results. Stay tuned!