Financial Services PPC Ad Copy Breakdown [Study]

A few months ago Bing Ads shared insights from a study of over 250,000 unique PPC ads. It covered more than 300 million ad impressions over a 30-day period in the travel industry. The results demonstrated how including 23 keyword variables could raise ad quality (predicted click-through rate) when they were included in the ad title or description.

Bing Ads has completed the same type of analysis for the financial services industry.

Research for Financial Services: Banking, Auto Insurance, Credit Cards and Health Insurance

The study is one of a similar scale, but this time it’s a layer deeper and provides insight by sub-verticals like banking, auto insurance, credit cards, and health insurance.

Here are a few key takeaways:

  • Auto Insurance: “Safe” was positive in the ad title, while “Fast” and “Savings” had solid CTR lift in the ad description.
  • Banking: “Savings” did not perform particularly well in either the ad title or ad description
  • Credit Cards: APR and the dollar sign performed better in the ad description than in the ad title
  • Health Insurance: When describing value, use the word “Affordable” in the ad title, and avoid the word “Savings”.

During January 2013, ads on the Yahoo Bing Network within Financial Services were analyzed. For each sub-vertical, different variables (one or two word phrases) which appeared in at least 10 ads from five different advertisers were identified and then used to calculate the ad quality.

There are fantastic insights from this study to help boost CTR performance.

Let’s take Auto Insurance ad copy tactics for example. Each ad copy variable is broken out by Ad Title and Ad Description (pictured below). Using “safe” in the ad title versus “save” correlates to higher ad quality. Each sub-vertical is broken out like this.



Top Performing Variables

At the end of the day, as marketers we want to create the most engaging ads. It turns out each sub-vertical had its own variables which performed well in that category, but not necessarily in other categories.

Here are the top combinations:



Ultimately, your business model needs to align to these value propositions and tactics. For example, if your business provides a premium service, then a “low cost” ad title doesn’t align to your strategy.

Sitelink Extensions Add Lift

As seen in the previous research on Travel ads, the importance of using Sitelink Extensions was clear. According to Microsoft internal data from this test period, financial services advertisers with Sitelink Extensions saw an average 23 percent higher CTR than with standard text ads. Lift was further amplified in the auto insurance sub-vertical where ads with Sitelink Extensions experienced a 75 percent increase in CTR.

Other Takeaways

  • Dollar signs ($) should be used with caution. They were usually associated with poorer ad quality, with some exceptions (like health insurance).
  • Sitelink Extensions consistently had high impact on ad quality; much higher than any variable of the ad copy.
  • There was variability in the analysis, so the data and recommendations should be used as a guide, and not a substitute, for performing your own ad copy tests.

An initiative of this scope produces many great insights and you can read all about them (and more) in the Search Advertising Trends in Financial Services report that will be widely available soon or by reviewing our dedicated presentation of the study results for financial services here.

Research is great, but don’t forget the importance of executing testing of each keyword and the weight it carries in the success of a campaign.

Have you been experimenting with improving your ad quality by adjusting your ad copy? We’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Related reading

Five ways to target ads on Google that don’t involve keywords
small budget guide to testing ad copy, landing pages, and more
keyword research tools you can use for free
Five ways PPC customer support can help SMBs