Formula of a winning PPC ad

Writing good ads is one of the most important parts of your campaign.   It can mean the difference between success and failure.  Although every campaign is different, I have found general trends through testing that usually work. The overall formula I like to use when writing ads is this:

Title and Line 2: Repeating the search term, starting the pre-sell

Line 3: Reassuring the customer, showing authority, and bonus selling points if space.

Display URL: Providing confidence in next step.

As always, its easiest to see with an example. Let’s use the example of a shoe offer like shoebuy or zappos. This ad would be for a search hitting the keyword “running shoes“. Here is a sample ad:

Ads may look simple but there is a lot going on here.  So let’s break it down.

1. The search term is repeated in 2 different places on the ad, reinforcing the search, increasing quality score, and bolding that text for increased CTR.

2. Saving money. Everyone wants to save money, so in 2 places on the ad we have show they will save money. On line 1, the word “discount” and on line 2 the phrase “on sale”.

3. Urgency. The word “now” on line 2 evokes a sense of urgency.

4. Numbers and percentages. People scanning a page always stop on numbers. On line 3 we use “100%” which draws the eyes to the ad and increases CTR.

5. Reassurance and final selling points. On line 3 we provide buyer reassurance with the guarantee and the bonus point about free shipping.

6. The word free. If there is anything about the offer that is free, its a good thing to put in the ad. “Free” jumps out at people.

7. Sentence case. Capitalizing the first letter of every word usually leads to higher CTR.

8. Display URL. This is a simple display URL but effective because it further reinforces the search term and lets the person know the domain is related to what they want. Not overly hyphenated or too long. Also I capitalize each word in the domain if its multiple words.

Even though this ad doesn’t have a call to action like “click now for coupon” it should still lead to a good CTR. Once the searcher gets to your landing page, you can then close the deal with a clear call to action. I like more descriptive and informative ads, which usually work well. In addition you get more serious clicks which keeps expenses down and leads to overall better conversion rates. At any rate this is just one of the techniques that usually works great for me, there are tons of ways to write ads for different situations.

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Posted in Affiliate Marketing, General, Pay Per Click by cdfnetworks on 08|08|08
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Comment by Justin Dupre
2008-08-08 15:27:16

Amazing post. Absolutely sexy and neccessary for any noob to PPC like me.

This gets my gold star of approval!

Justin Dupre
Affiliate Marketing with an Attitude

Comment by Jason Tibbons
2008-08-08 15:55:44

Another stellar post. For people that keep asking for specific informations this should answer them.

Comment by Muneeb
2008-08-08 16:21:20

I would just say “WOW”

That was one of the most informative post i have ever read in my whole carrier, don’t think its flattery or something… really it actually gave me a lot !

Thanks for sharing your experience and knowledge

Comment by Affiliate Marketing
2008-08-08 16:45:39

Very good breakdown of an effective ad. Great post!

Comment by Jason - Jabarch
2008-08-08 17:38:56

thanks Chad, I never thought about the “100%” point. That is a really good piece of info.

Comment by Pay Per Click Fool
2008-08-08 18:46:29

Nice one CDF … good analysis

you can also stick the keyword on the end of the
display URL for extra boldness :)

Comment by Jason G
2008-08-08 18:51:09

Nicely Presented!!

Comment by Gee
2008-08-08 18:52:20

Chad, I was hoping you spill the ad secret. Oh well, it’s out now. there goes my test and work. People got it for free.

Comment by Jeff
2008-08-08 20:52:35

I hardly think this was a “secret”. But it does break down a successful ad by it’s psychological and practical components.

Comment by Gee
2008-08-08 18:52:45

was hoping you DON’t spill the ad secret*

Comment by TipJar
2008-08-08 20:24:52

Gold, pure gold.

Comment by Toki Tover
2008-08-08 23:05:42

thanks Chad for the great template to follow!

Comment by Mike
2008-08-08 23:44:48


I think a lot of this is common sense but as usual, the way you lay it out is invaluable and provides much needed insight into something as standard as writing effective ad copy.

I’d love to see a follow-up post discussing writing ad copy based on specific keyword themes. Ie. the format for the ad you posted above may be great for keywords like “discount running shoes” etc. but may not be great for other types of keywords.

Keep up the great work…this is the kind of writing that makes me read your blog versus the million other “make money online” blogs who give “Top 5 incredibly vague tips for making money online that you’ve read a thousand times before!”

The devil is in the details and you help shed some much needed light on those.

Comment by Tim
2008-08-09 00:20:41

I’ve spent hundreds of hours and tens of thousands of dollars on my PPC and I can tell you without a doubt that your PPC ad will not perform very well. It looks spammy, it’s not ***unique*** to a searched term, and UNPERSONAL.

***It doesn’t sound like what I’d tell a close friend about great shoes for sale***

What I DO like about your article, very much so, is the way you presented it so nice and simply in simple graphical form and further explanation below it. A++++ for that. I just wish the ad you chose to explain for would be better, but as you admitted yourself, you think it “should” lead to a good CTR. But if I had a nickel for everything I thought “should” work but didn’t test out, I wouldn’t be posting comments on random marketing blogs ;D

Comment by Chad
2008-08-09 00:53:24

Well, I can either take an exact ad/niche I am running and display it for everyone to copy. Or I can give something very similar in style and formula. I chose to show something similar. I also have done a fair bit of testing and can tell you from experience that this ad would work well. ;)

The “what you tell a close friend” is one style of ad, this is another. Like I said there are tons of styles for writing ad copy. Thanks for your comment.

Comment by Sipboy
2008-08-09 09:21:13

Chad, I agree with you. I have also used a very similar style you talk about here that produces very good CTR. I must add that the “100%” tip sound like gold. I will be borrowing that one. I too have spent thousands of dollars on PPC and this stuff you are talking about works. I also stick the keyword at the end of the display url for added boldness like @Pay Per Click Fool. I just wanted to point that out because I know you are the real deal from reading your blog from time to time. I hardly ever comment, but I felt it was necessary to defend you on this one because this person sounded like he is attacking you. Actually, you could argue for many other styles that work great in PPC. I started out using the “Rich Jerk” approach to PPC years ago and it also worked great for the type of stuff I was promoting at the time. I have since been using this style you talk about here because I promote more diverse products now. @Tim, I don’t want to sound negative towards you, I just think people should know that Chad is offering good info. I think different products deserve a different approach. I have seen a big difference from one product to another product in testing out styles. Maybe you are promoting different types of products than him. I’m not saying you are wrong, I just think that you style works for some products but not all of them. Some products need more of a personal touch, such as beauty products. Products that have price as a major benefit seem to work better for me in this style. Just my two cents.

(Comments wont nest below this level)
Comment by Dave
2008-08-10 02:49:37

Chad is offering some great tips here… as some others have implied, there is no “one size fits all” approach though… Chad mentioned that as well. The best “type” of ad will be different depending on the persona you’re targeting.

As always, test, test, test. :)

Comment by SEO I-COM
2008-08-11 13:10:14

Great article!
in addition, You can use this tool to test different ad variations:

Comment by Iman Yusef-Yahya
2008-08-14 21:12:28

As so often is the case, many people explain the what, but not the how… which is not the case in the instance of this post. What you have here is a simple dissection and easily understood formula that anyone new to the Google adwords game can follow. Bravo!

Comment by Frank
2008-08-16 12:30:13

Great post man, really solid tips, cheers!

2008-08-16 20:32:06

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2008-08-24 13:07:04

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Comment by CrazySugar
2008-08-24 14:07:56

Do you find that does better than

2008-08-27 21:55:56

[...] des astuces pour détecter des niches adsense et sur les variations de mots clés à utiliser. – CDFNetworks (en anglais) avec des astuces pour Google Adwords [...]

Comment by Ken Savage
2008-09-02 03:55:30

I always thought it was so important to have a relevant display url as well. So many times I see an ad for a service and the domain its going to his something unrelated.

Comment by Ken Savage
2008-09-02 04:00:30
2009-11-29 21:03:47

[...] des astuces pour détecter des niches adsense et sur les variations de mots clés à utiliser. – CDFNetworks (en anglais) avec des astuces pour Google Adwords – Spyfu pour voir quels mots clés sont utilisés [...]

2010-01-29 09:11:18

[...] des astuces pour détecter des niches adsense et sur les variations de mots clés à utiliser. – CDFNetworks (en anglais) avec des astuces pour Google Adwords – Spyfu pour voir quels mots clés sont utilisés [...]

Comment by ex recovery system
2011-12-06 11:43:02

This is a very detailed and very helpful explanation of extremely important points to follow in PPC. Many, many thanks to you!

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