In the life of any PPC account, you come to a point where returns are diminishing and your results … Read More
Earlier this year AdWords rolled out their new Extended Text Ads (ETAs). It seemed like a rushed global roll-out, but the opportunity to get up to 60 characters in the title (two lines of 30 characters each) instead of 25 was a huge opportunity. The addition 10 characters afforded by the single 80-character description was also a nice bonus.
However, ETAs are like the awkward guy at the party because we know they’ll eventually replace the old ad format, but Google wasn’t committing to when that will happen. Further complicating things is the spotty adoption. Look at this SERP for “auto insurance quote” I just did today:
From what I can tell, these 4 ads are all the old format and insurance is one of the most competitive industries out there. These are professionally managed and spend a ton of money, but they’re not using ETAs. Even a search for “idaho fall plumber” turned up an ETA:
ETA Deadline Set
But it looks like Google is ready to push people toward adoption a little harder starting in 2017. From an email sent to all AdWords advertisers (check the email inbox, maybe even the spam folder) here is what they said:
Starting January 31st, 2017 you will no longer be able to create or edit standard text ads within AdWords. After this date, you will only be able to create and edit text ads using the expanded text ads format. Existing standard text ads will continue serving alongside expanded text ads.
- You don’t have to worry about this until after the holiday season (if you don’t want to)
- You’ve got 4 months to test and find ETAs that outperform your current ads
- More characters available for your ads
However, this still leaves us with 2 different ad formats in our accounts, which live in different areas of AdWords Editor, etc. Not ideal, but evidently it won’t be an issue in 4 more months.
In PPC, ad copy is a crucial part of your success or failure. If you can’t connect with your potential customers, their needs and their emotions you won’t get the click. If you don’t get many clicks, your click-through-rate (CTR) suffers and that lead to low Quality Scores (QS) and high costs. And as important as ad copy is, you likely are writing sub-optimal ads right now without even knowing it. Consider this story.
For many people, the thought of speaking in public inspires more fear than death, so you can imagine how I felt at my high school graduation when I would be speaking in front of several hundred people (small high school, I know). I prepared diligently and had my remarks approved by the school administration. I rehearsed. But when I stood to speak a very unexpected thing happened.
I couldn’t see anyone.
All I saw were the spotlights in the back shining directly on me. It was like I was speaking to an empty room. My apprehension was gone and I gave my address without a problem.
In this case, the spotlights had limited my view so dramatically that I couldn’t even see the crowd I was speaking to. That was great for me, but this spotlight effect is ruining your ads.
What Is The Spotlight Effect?
The original use of the term is to describe how people believe they’re noticed more than they are. However, for our discussion today we’ll consider how it’s related to a couple other concepts. The first is called the false-consensus effect. This is how people tend to overestimate how much their opinions and views are similar to their customers. The second is narrow framing, which is when someone thinks of a decision as A or B. For example, the current US presidential election could be described as narrow framing if a voter considers it a decision between only the Republican candidate or the Democratic candidate (when in truth there are several other options).
How It Hurts Your Ads
The two effects have different impacts on your ad copy, but both can be debilitating. When suffering from false consensus an advertiser tends to write ad copy that they find appealing, but doesn’t resonate with customers. A common red flag for this is when jargon or buzz words start appearing in ad copy.
With narrow framing you may only create one challenger ad and put it out there against your champion. When the champion continues to triumph time and time again, it may be more because you’re missing the opportunity to try a radically different challenger and not because the champion ad is THAT superior.
How To Overcome It
To overcome false consensus, you first need to admit that you aren’t your customer. You work in the business/industry every day and you likely are far more knowledgeable than your customers. Once you’ve admitted that to yourself, here are tips for fixing it:
- Talk to more customers/clients directly – This could mean you shadow a salesperson on the phone, on pitches or in a store. The idea is to hear what customers are saying directly.
- Talk to the sales team – If you can’t talk to customers, at least interview your best salespeople. Find out how they work. Ask them what customers are saying. These men & women are dedicated to closing deals, so they know the major concerns and where your product/service is the best fit.
Now let’s move on to narrow framing. Since the root problem is viewing the decision as an OR decision instead of an AND decision, the key is to get beyond 2 solutions. OR is naturally a binary decision so use this advice from Nudge, “…keep searching for options until you fall in love twice.” This seems like extra work, especially if you feel like your first attempt is killer awesome. But that’s why we’re talking about this. If you look outside your narrow framing there could be several options that are even MORE killer awesome that you just needed to take the time to find.
As I was browsing my #ppcchat column in Tweetdeck the other day I came across this screenshot from Josh Leibner:
— Josh Leibner (@JoshLeibner) August 19, 2016
As you can see, AdWords seems to be testing a call-only format where they add the company name to the title along with the phone number. The Display URL and description remain the same and the prominent “Call” CTA is still there, so it’s somewhat of a small change. However, I really like it because the call-only title format with just “Call XXX-XXXX” always seemed sub-optimal to me. Why couldn’t there be a keyword rich title like before and just have the CTA show them the number? Very few people care about whether it’s local or an 800 number anymore so I see this as an improvement. What do you think?