The Power of Positive PPC Ads and Attitude

If working with ad copy and observing search behavior all day long has taught me anything, it’s that the speed at which people scan and click on search results tends to be a lot more recognition-primed and emotionally driven, rather than strictly logical. In other words, searchers implicitly ask themselves:

  1. Does this look like a relevant result?
  2. What’s my gut feel about this ad / search result?

You can easily deal with the first question by including keywords and keyword phrases in the headline and body copy of the ad. Searchers will recognize their keywords and be reassured of relevance.

Beyond that, ad writers can also address the underlying motivations and buying concerns of the searcher to create an even better relevance signature on the searchers radar screen.

But when it comes to gut feel, that’s when creating vivid mental images and positive associations starts to carry the day. Most PPC advertisers are smart enough to also pack keyword phrases into titles and body copy, so the subtleties of mental images and emotional associations determine winning and losing ads.

OK. Less reading more seeing, right? Let’s dive into some real examples to see if this theory works.


So without being told which ad won, and evaluating them solely on the basis of “positive attitude” and positive word associations, which ad do you think earned a higher CTR?

Ad B won the day. “Fight Alzheimer's” is just a lot more positive than “Worry About Alzheimer's.” As importantly, “Improve Your Brain Function” is more positive than “Test and Improve Your Brain.” Why? Because no one really wants to be tested, they just want to get better.

Ready for one more? Here we go:


Which ad had a higher CTR?

This time, Ad A won. Why? Because being your own boss is felt to be a powerful, universal positive. And because the “Learn How” bit says that you don’t have to have prior experience.

In contrast, “Run your own event planning business” speaks to work. Work you may want to do, but work all the same. And the “from home” part makes it sound like your newfound business might not be as glamorous as you want to believe.

Note that these elements and factors aren’t logical, they’re emotional and image-based -- but no less important in determining which ad wins!

Last example:


So what’s the difference? “15 Mins Outside Richmond” vs. “15 min drive to downtown Richmond

And what’s the difference between those two phrases?

Well, one makes you think the homes are situated admirably close to Richmond in some highly sought-after suburb. And the other one makes you imagine having to get in a car and commute every day. Guess which ad won?

You guessed it, Ad A won, because its phrasing was simply more positive than Ad B.

Let’s make one thing clear, though. We're all sophisticated marketers who love data more than doughnuts. Even though these ads were split tested for a minimum of 14 days at a 90 percent confidence level with an average of 30 percent increase in CTR, that’s still not enough to deem this a solid theory.

The point here is to give you ideas about different things to test in your ad copy. If it works for you, leave me a note in the comments and let me know. If it doesn’t, hit that beautiful pause button and test something different.

About the author

Named one of the top 20 most influential PPC experts by PPC Hero, Noran is a digital marketing consultant, columnist, speaker and instructor. She is a board member of the local Los Angeles chapter of SEMPO, as well as an Associate Instructor of the Master Certification in Conversion Optimization Course at Market Motive.

She specializes in analyzing the PPC customer journey, creating buyer momentum and optimizing their experience from click to conversion. Her passion for understanding today's customer is a key driver to her analysis of industry trends and keeping up with the latest in PPC, voice of customer, analytics, and conversion optimization.

In addition to writing for publications such as SES Magazine and ClickZ, Noran is also a frequent speaker at the SES conferences, the Internet Marketing Conference and the Online Marketing Summit.

When Noran is not online, she is either traveling or diving with sharks in the Red Sea.