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Five Ways To Get Creative in Paid Search Campaigns

  |  December 6, 2013   |  Comments

Relevance and creativity must extend through the entire consumer lifecycle, from the impression to the sale. It begins with targeting but includes ad message and even landing page creativity.

There is plenty of room for creativity in PPC search. As a matter of fact, creativity may often make the key difference between success and failure of a campaign. At a panel I moderated recently for the eMarketing Association on Programmatic Media Buying, one of the areas of consensus was that even with all the advanced targeting available through to marketers using programmatic buying, video and audio advertising creative (and creativity) was equally important.

Relevance and Creativity

As more and more media are auctioned off in a way similar to search advertising, marketers' ability to make best use of each impression and each click will determine the affordability of that impression or click. Even in cases where you are being billed on a CPC basis, the decisions made by the search engine or the social media platform as to where and whether to show your ad is based on predicted eCPM/Yield.

This means your relevance -- and creativity -- must extend through the entire lifecycle of the touch points with the consumer, from the impression to the sale (assuming your objective is a traditionally defined sale). Relevance begins with targeting, but includes ad message and even landing page creativity.

Here are five ways you can leverage creativity in PPC:

1. Creative Ad Strategies

Don't rely on DKI (Dynamic Keyword Insertion). Instead, think about the buying journey your prospect is embarking on and how you can make your ad communicative, compelling, and relevant while still keeping in mind that the searched keywords will be bold-faced in the ad.

Make sure your Ad Groups are tight, so that the ad only triggers when the keyword appears in the ad (if at all possible). Should your ad be promotional? Will seasonal messaging increase CTR and relevance? What about geographic personalization? Are those seeing the ad likely already familiar with the brand or are they unaware of your value proposition?

2. Creative Keywords

Keyword expansion can be tedious and boring. What's exciting is the prospect that this process can let you find some high-volume opportunities that can really work.

If your creativity allows a high-volume keyword that generally can't get a high Quality Score to obtain one, you'll find yourself tapping high opportunity keywords that are a close fit for your product or brand. For example, banks can advertise on the keyword FDIC, capturing the attention of high net worth depositors looking to diversify their bank deposits. Perhaps corporations should highlight their donations and CSR efforts by buying the keyword "Typhoon Haiyan" (which currently has only a few nonprofit advertisers running on it and clearly has a significant volume of new searchers). The creative possibilities are endless.

3. Landing Page Creativity

Perhaps the greatest area of creative opportunity resides in the PPC search landing page. Unlike organic search landing pages, marketers have a significant level of flexibility in our PPC landing pages. There's no need to worry about animated graphical or video content being overused, as long as there's enough content on the page to satisfy Google's landing page scoring systems and the page loads quickly enough (you may want to delay any video load or autoplay to achieve this). Also, don't be afraid to almost completely eliminate your navigation on your PPC landing pages.

Some changes you may want to test to get creative are:

  • Try short form copy.
  • Try long form copy.
  • Increase the image size, or change the image altogether.
  • Do whatever it takes to engage and influence your visitors more than you are now. 

Think your landing page is great? What percentage of visitors abandon your site? Most non-brand landing pages have abandonment rates of 80 percent or higher. How can you reassure search visitors that your site -- and the specific landing pages on it -- are exactly what they are looking for?

4. Pricing Creativity

If you are in retail, consider the impact of price changes. Black Friday and Cyber Monday prove that consumers have been trained to expect discounts and deals and may not actually have a strong idea of what the non-discounted price should be. This fact allows you some flexibility in setting base prices, but remember that Google has a policy with regard to pricing accuracy whenever you send a merchant feed into the PLA ecosystem. Price is also a determinant of response within the SERP, so you may need to display a low price there.

5. PLA Image Creativity

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a better image in a PLA can be worth a thousand extra clicks. The eye scanning behavior of consumers reviewing a SERP shows that they linger over enticing images. Many studies have been done with respect to the use of head shots, particular expressions, etc. Color may also differentiate your PLA feeds from the competition.

Now that we have more targeting than ever before, you'll have to decide how to combine that targeting with creativity. Have fun!

Homepage image courtesy of Shutterstock

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Kevin Lee

Kevin Lee, Didit cofounder and executive chairman, has been an acknowledged search engine marketing expert since 1995. His years of SEM expertise provide the foundation for Didit's proprietary Maestro search campaign technology. The company's unparalleled results, custom strategies, and client growth have earned it recognition not only among marketers but also as part of the 2007 Inc 500 (No. 137) as well as three-time Deloitte's Fast 500 placement. Kevin's latest book, "Search Engine Advertising" has been widely praised.

Industry leadership includes being a founding board member of SEMPO and its first elected chairman. "The Wall St. Journal," "BusinessWeek," "The New York Times," Bloomberg, CNET, "USA Today," "San Jose Mercury News," and other press quote Kevin regularly. Kevin lectures at leading industry conferences, plus New York, Columbia, Fordham, and Pace universities. Kevin earned his MBA from the Yale School of Management in 1992 and lives in Manhattan with his wife, a New York psychologist and children.

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