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3 Common PPC Ad Copy Flops

by Mona Elesseily

For many years, I’ve been participating in sessions/panels where I comment on PPC ad copy volunteered by an audience. As crowds tend to go wild for this type of session, in this article, I’ve decided to focus on some bad PPC ad copy and provide several fixes to improve it.

Ad #1

In this ad, I wouldn’t have focused on the company’s brand in the headline especially as it’s not a brand that’s well known. In this case, I would have let bigger names highlight their brand and focused my ad on the additional reasons to do business with my company like fast implementation, 24/7 phone support, etc.

For extra conversion bang, I’d ensure my ad benefits are reiterated in bullet point form on the landing page. Personally, I like 3-5 bullet points that are 4 to 7 words long. At least one of the benefits should be unique to your company/product/service (unique selling proposition).


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Ad #2

It’s important to focus on the features and benefits that resonate the most with your target audience. In this ad above, the company (Disney) encourages people to share baby pictures online. Many of the other ads for the same phrase (baby clothes) focus on discount offers, shipping options, etc. While it’s true people want to share pictures of their babies, they are probably not looking to paid search ads to do just that.

PPC’s sweet spot is toward the end of the buy cycle when shoppers are about to pull the trigger and buy. The offer in the ad above is geared towards the beginning of the buy cycle when stores are maybe trying to engage/establish trust with buyers. The folks at Disney should use this channel effectively and attempt brand advertising elsewhere.

Here are some quick ways to figure out if your company is targeting the right features/benefits:

  • Talk to people closest to your customers (i.e. salespeople, call center folks, etc.) and figure out what the biggest customer concerns/pain points are. Is it price? Quality? Selection? Brand? The ability to interact and share pictures? Test the variables in different combinations in your ads.
  • For example, after testing many variables, you may find that a fast shipping offer and selection is what people are looking for when purchasing your product and is what gets you the best bang for your PPC buck.
  • If above is not applicable, conduct a focus group and ask what your groups biggest concerns/issues/pain points are when it comes to purchasing baby clothing. Focus groups can be done intermittently with as few as 5-10 people to get basic insight and some initial testing points.

Ad #3

In this case, the advertiser is trying appeal to many groups of buyers with generic ad copy. I typed in baby clothes and an ad for a company that “specializes in custom made graphics, clothing, unique gift ideas” came up in the PPC search results.

In general, ad copy that is specific to products and/or specific groups of buyers tends to convert better than generic ad copy. And the more specific, the better ads tend to convert. A big reason for this is that it’s easier to hone in on relevant keyword terms and include them in ad copy headlines and descriptions.

A good tip is to structure your ads along the same lines as your sites navigation and/or category or product pages.

Here’s a possible example of how could have gone about their PPC advertising.

Keyword terms (within a single ad group):

Baby sweaters, Baby sweater, etc.

Note: emphasize phrase, exact and modified broad match terms and include negative terms in the account.

Optimized Ad Copy

Get baby sweaters today

Many baby sweater styles & colors.

Fast & free shipping. Order now!

Now, do the same that we’ve done for baby sweaters above for all the products your company sells online.

Optimized Landing Pages

It should go without saying, information and images on the landing pages should be baby sweaters specific. In my next article, I’ll tackle some landing page flops. Stay tuned!

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

About The Author: is the VP of Online Marketing Strategy at Page Zero Media where she focuses on paid search strategy and conversion improvement. In her career, she has significantly improved campaign performance for brands such as Capital One,, Cathay Pacific and The Jimmy Pattison Group to name a few. To learn more about Mona, visit her website, or follow her on Twitter @webmona.

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