5 Lessons From 500 Ads In 5 Minutes

by Mike Tyler | July 4, 2017

Want to know what the ultimate AdWords ad would look like? Read through to the bottom to find out.

Sure, you could say it’s been a busy month here at the War Room; between client campaigns, optimizing search ads and analyzing over 500 ads to distil this fine, free list of lessons on how to nail your PPC ads…

Sure, you could say we’ve been drinking plenty of coffee this month, too.

Analyzing 500 Ads For 5 Lessons in 5 Minutes

Our golden rule has always been this: Trust the data.

Between conversions, impressions, click through rates, bounce rates, and coffee drip rates, tracking everything across each channel gives us a ton of data; what would all that data be if we couldn’t extrapolate valuable lessons for future digital efforts?

It’s just numbers.

And we get it — you’ve got Netflix to watch, bills to pay, and games to play; this is exactly the article you need to get 5 quick lessons to amp up your PPC game from all the data we’ve collected over time from these 500 ads.


Lesson#1: Are you Smarter Than a 6th Grader?

When it comes to your copy, you shouldn’t be.

Whether it’s descriptions, headlines, sub-headers, text or display ads, the copy you use shouldn’t be full of lexical complexity (like using the term “lexical complexity”), but be jargon-free and at the reading level of a 6th grader.

Great copy is about simplicity; It’s reader-centric and about them instead of you; It’s about the benefits they’ll recieve after clicking your search ad instead of your company features or selling points.

Through the analysis of all of our ads, we’ve learned that simple copy is the more effective copy from an actions standpoint. Use direct words like “free,” “you,” “get,” “limited,” and others that imply benefits, scarcity, and risk-aversion from engaging with your service/product.

Lesson #2: Be Punctual With Punctuation


Or not – maybe it’s em dashes: maybe it’s colons. Maybe you stress the important words in your sentence with italics – y’know, the ones that make an impact on your ad reader.

Among the 500 ads analyzed, our top ads took advantage of punctuation in all the right places and times to encourage more of an effect on viewers. We found the following punctuation choices to be effective in our ads to improve click-through rates:

  • Exclamation points!
  • Emphasis placed on the last few words
  • $ + “free” or “save” in your ad copy
  • Odd-numbered percentiles

While ad viewers don’t read everything on a page or ad, they do scan it; the way our brains work is to distinguish the most important or notable words from the rest.

If that means exclamation points at the end of a description line or percentiles used for numerical stats (“The 10% About ___ You Never….”), these are four elements that will stand-out to your viewer, increasing your click-through rates.

Lesson #3: Don’t Submit!

If your conversion rates on your ads or CTAs involve the word “submit,” are at an all-time low – that could be why.

Paired with the idea of submitting a payment, this word sets up a strange hierarchy between advertiser and ad viewer; remember, the key to copywriting is simplicity, directness, and problem-solving; the word “submit” is derived from submission and automatically convinces ad viewers that they’re only giving something – instead of receiving a benefit.

Think about substituting that word with “get,” or even better, “get” in combination with the possessive determiner in the first-person (“Get My Free…”).

Lesson #4: Think Positive!

Which phrase sounds better?

“Save 30% Off All Sneakers THIS SUNDAY.” vs. “Don’t Spend An Extra 30% On Sneakers.”?

Not only is phrase #1 simple and direct, but it focuses on the positive sentiment of saving money as opposed to not spending money in the second phrase.

When it comes to search ads and every single ad we analyzed, 9/10 times the ads focusing on positive sentiments and benefits for the viewer always reigned supreme for conversion rates.

Lesson #5: Put Numbers On The Board

Which option speaks to you more? An article titled:

“How To Be Better at SEO” or “5 Ways To Be Better at SEO Today”?

Our advertising research and the general consensus on great copywriting reveals that articles using numerical figures–especially odd and specific ones–improve the credibility and click-through rating of headlines, body copy, sub-headers, and more!

This means better CTR and conversions for your search ads when implemented in combination with the lessons above.

However, it’s unwise to use numbers just for the sake of it; use numbers in your ads only if they are relevant or if they come from actual data!

Otherwise, you’re 1 step away from losing viewer interest and trust.

What Have We Learned?

If you use the 5 principles we derived from our ad studies above, you will succeed with your ads and notice a bump in conversions + CTR. Admittedly, you shouldn’t stop at just this article; there are multiple factors that come into play with the success of search ads; ideally, your search ads would include the following points for maximum success:

  • Simple, direct, jargon-free copy
  • Punctuation for CTA emphasis
  • Specific, odd numbers among headlines, sub-headers, etc.
  • Positive, benefit-laden copy
  • Words like “free, save, you, receive, get” when appropriate

What are your go-to best practices for search ads? Feel free to let us know – we’ve got some time on our hands while we analyze the next set of ads for part two of this series.


18 Benefits of Programmatic Media Buying

18 Benefits of Programmatic Media Buying

If you’re looking for ideas or content to inform your programmatic ad strategy, or to justify moving to a new Demand Side Platform (DSP) for improved results, this post is a solid resource.The benefits of programmatic media buying for your brand.More specifically,...

7 Ways to Create Content that Helps to Achieve Your Business Goals

7 Ways to Create Content that Helps to Achieve Your Business Goals

Content is one of the most important things brands need to thrive in the digital world.It helps companies in different ways, such as building trust, increasing brand awareness, driving website traffic, and even generating leads. In this digital world, content has now...

Google Privacy Sandbox Explained

Google Privacy Sandbox Explained

Ch-ch-changes: recently, there’s been a lot of technology innovations and policy changes shaking up the ad tech landscape, including the introduction of the Google Privacy Sandbox.Recently, movers and shakers of the internet age, such as Apple, are moving towards...


Whistler Medical Aesthetics

Read More >


Vancouver Canucks

Read More >



Read More >
What's New
Do I Need a Marketing Agency or Advertising Agency? What’s the Difference?
Read More >