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Get More Attention with Legal PPC Ad Symbols

szetela-david
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I know I promised to write this week about some new techniques for getting great results from PPC Content Networks. But I can't resist this small tangent, because it's too good not to share.

Before I get into it, just one more word about Twitter. Friends and family are worried about me -- they believe I've been sucked into some alternate universe, like Tron.

Something fascinating is happening in/on Twitter. I'll write about it eventually -- but that's an ironic statement, given the fact that since I started my Twitter obsession, I've written more words than in any similar period, almost all of them in tiny "word bites" of less than 140 characters.

For now I'll just say that Twitter is several things ("It's a floor wax AND a dessert topping!"). It's instant messaging, chat rooms, bookmark/link sharing, and microblogging. And more. And the way people and message types interact is creating a new kind of social interaction.

Find out for yourself by trying it -- please follow me: @Szetela.

On to today's topic: A few months ago, my friends at PPC Hero (which I read daily, because they post something excellent at least once per day) wrote a post about including trademark symbols in PPC ad text.

Another good friend, Brad Geddes, referred to the PPC Hero post (in his great BGTheory blog) and added a clever method for typing trademark symbols.

Both of these posts got me thinking: are there other symbols that advertisers can use in their ads?

Google's policies seem to explicitly prohibit advertisers from including symbols in ad text. If you do it the wrong way, Google AdWords may display a message like this: Google policy does not permit excessive or unnecessary punctuation or symbols, or use of nonstandard punctuation, including tildes (˜), asterisks (*),and vertical rules (|). Please see our full policy.

The "full policy" hints that it may be possible to include symbols, but the practice is discouraged: Use standard punctuation and symbols.

  • Don't use repeated, unnecessary, or gimmicky punctuation or symbols.
  • Your title may not contain an exclamation point.
  • Your entire ad text may only contain one exclamation point in total.
  • The use of symbols, numbers, and letters must adhere to the true meaning of the symbol.

But, I reasoned, doesn't Google necessarily accept "non-standard" symbols in ad text? After all, many non-English languages use characters outside the English-language ASCII character set.

So I tried a few experiments. First I tried inserting bullet points -- something I'd seen in other blog posts -- and was a little surprised to see that ads like this were accepted:

Cool! Bullets can make an ad really stand out, and it's very likely that CTR will be higher for such ads.

So I tried a few crazy variations:

Those are "greater than or equal" signs -- a bit spiffier than plain-vanilla greater-than signs.

Then I started to think about the fact that there are symbols that look like doubled letters. Like the Number symbol that looks like the letters "No:"

Savvy readers will realize this is like squeezing a few extra characters into an ad.

You can see where all this is going -- and I expect to see some pretty zany ads from now on. A few caveats:

  1. The easiest way I've found to discover and create the full range of available symbols is to fire up Microsoft Word and use the "Insert Symbols" function. Then copy and paste a symbol from the word document to your ad.
  2. Not all symbols from all fonts will work. I've experimented with the Courier font, and a few -- like the smiley face symbol - were outright rejected by AdWords.
  3. It's likely that human editors will eventually reject the ad. But "eventually" could be a looong time.

In the next column installment I really will revisit the topic of my previous Search Engine Watch column, Content Advertising. In the mean time, I'd love to hear about your own experiments with symbols in ads. Tweet me and/or join the discussion at the Profitable PPC forum!


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