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Applying Big Data Insights to Ad Copy Strategy: Travel Edition

  |  April 4, 2013   |  Comments

What makes an ad engaging or compelling? What combinations of messages drive the best performance and quality?

From agencies and big brands to small businesses, the art of ad copy and messaging can take years to learn, let alone master.

What makes an ad engaging or compelling? What combinations of messages drive the best performance and quality? These are questions Bing Ads recently tackled in a study of over 250,000 unique ads from the travel industry with more than 300 million ad impressions, in a 30-day period. Here are two interesting insights you might apply to your next ad copy review:

  • The combination of the price points and percent off in ad copy had the strongest overall ad quality out of the 23 ad copy variables identified.
  • Ads that included at least one of the 23 ad copy variables (see below) in either the ad title or the ad description scored 110 percent higher in ad quality vs. ads that did not include these variables.

Research on the Best Messaging Combinations and Where to Use Them

For insights on how to improve ad quality and engagement, I spoke with Bing Ads Research Analyst Vivian Li, a PhD in Industrial Engineering who works to solve big data problems.

She analyzed all ads on the Yahoo Bing Network with at least five impressions serving on non-brand keywords in the travel vertical for a 30-day period. This surfaced 23 common keyword variables within the ad titles and ad descriptions, which appeared in nearly 70 percent of the 250,000 unique ads. She then measured the ad quality of these variables when used in various combinations.

bing-ads-travel-variables

Her conclusion is that "ads with any of these 23 variables in their title or description have a higher quality on average. For example, ads using variables in both the title and description scored an average of 110 percent higher in ad quality compared to ads that did not include them. Using the variables only in the title still provided an average lift of 75 percent and, if the variable was only used in the description, there was a 44 percent improvement on average."

And she mentioned, "Including Sitelinks in an ad served in the main line improved the likelihood of getting a click by nearly four times."

Top Performing Messaging Combination Across Travel Sub-Verticals

The study also showed the best keyword variable combinations varied depending on the sub-vertical. Ad copy strategies that performed for cruises were different than ones that worked for hotels. Here is a breakdown of the top combinations across the top five travel sub-verticals.

top-performers-bing-ads-ad-copy

When you look at over 250,000 ads serving over 300 million impressions in just 30 days, you'll come away with a few insights. Remember, even if the combination of the price points and percent off variables has the strongest overall ad quality, it has to align with your brand and offering. Using that combination may not help your campaigns, so always make sure these learnings connect to your overall business strategy.

The application goes beyond search marketing, and I hope it starts a conversation about your messaging strategy. Have you experimented with price points and sale variables in your ad copy? We'd love to hear your experiences, so comment below.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

John Gagnon

John Gagnon is a Bing Ads Evangelist (aka “search nerd”) at Microsoft. He has worked for both Bing Ads and Google AdWords, and is a frequent speaker at digital marketing conferences such as SES, SMX, and others. He has advised hundreds of clients ranging from Microsoft teams like Windows and Internet Explorer to small businesses like local garage door repair shops just getting started.

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