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Applying Big Data Insights to Ad Copy Strategy: Financial Services Edition

  |  June 27, 2013   |  Comments

When you're able to analyze over 200,000 unique ads that delivered more than 500 million ad impressions on a search engine, you'll know what combinations of ad copy messages drive the best response.

What combinations of ad copy messages drive the best response? When you're able to analyze over 200,000 unique ads that delivered more than 500 million ad impressions on a search engine - you'll come away with insights to help answer that question.

Previously Bing Ads released a study of ad quality for the travel sector from its research team. Now Bing Ads has repeated this analysis for the financial services sector (see slides below). It uncovered some not-so-obvious relationships between ad copy combinations for digital marketers to consider in its next ad copy review. Another product of the study is eye-grabbing visualizations called ad copy performance heatmaps.

  • Heatmaps visualize how ad titles and ad descriptions work together in combination to drive the best response.
  • Below you'll find four beautiful heatmaps from Bing Ads (think cut and paste to impress your team).

Financial Services Ad Copy Study Visualized in Heatmaps

During January 2013, over 200,000 unique ads and more than 500 million ad impressions with 120 variables were studied across multiple sub-verticals including: Auto Insurance, Banks, Credit Cards, and Health Insurance. For each sub-vertical, different variables (one- or two-word phrases) that appeared in at least 10 ads from five different advertisers were identified and then used to calculate the ad quality - this helps minimize the brand impact.

The analysis displayed in a heatmap format shows the disparity between the performance of each keyword when combined with other keywords in the ad title and description. Choosing the best combo of keywords provided significant lift.

One heatmap was created for each sub-vertical, with each heatmap being color-coded. Green combinations are associated with great response and red combinations with poor response.

  • Green = Great Quality
  • Yellow = Good Quality
  • Red = Bad Quality
  • White = No Data

Auto Insurance Heatmap

click to enlarge

  • "Safe" was strong in the ad title, while "Fast" and "Savings" had solid ad quality performance in the ad description. Branding terms were removed from the keywords and ad copy variables that were tested, so, for example, the term "Safe" was not part of the "Safe Auto" brand.
  • Combining "Safe" in the title had especially strong results when paired with "Free," "Fast," "Quote(s)," or "Auto" in the ad description.

Banking Heatmap

click to enlarge

  • The top performing combination was to include "Rate" in the title and "Yield" in the description.
  • "Online" and "Find" showed strong ad quality as they were present across several top title/ad description combinations.

Credit Card Heatmap

click to enlarge

  • "APR" and the dollar sign performed better in the ad description than in the ad title.
  • "Fee" improved quality when used in the ad description.
  • "Approval" and "bad credit" both did very well when included in either the title or description.

Health Insurance Heatmap

click to enlarge

  • When describing value, use the word "Affordable" in the ad title and avoid the word "Savings."
  • "Exam" when included in the title was a top performer.
  • The dollar sign experienced positive ad quality when used in health insurance ads, which was not the case in every vertical.

Get the Report

If these tidbits have intrigued you then dig into all of the findings yourself as there are more actionable insights than can be shared in this column. The complete Search Advertising Trends in Financial Services report will be released here. You'll find more specific information on each sub-vertical based on information from advertisers and ads.

It's exciting to see the knowledge that is being extracted with these studies and I'm looking forward to upcoming analyses of other verticals. Remember to use insights responsibly and make sure the ad copy aligns to your value proposition.

I'm always interested in your questions and experiences and encourage you to share them in the comments.


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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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