Campaign, copywriting and clicks

Creative copywriting has a key role to play in the future of Google Adwords and social media, and Campaign magazine was happy to spur the debate by publishing this letter.
Dear Editor,
Clair Beal’s lament about the dearth of good copywriting (“The art of aopywriting is as important as ever”, Campaign 23 September) made me recall how I learnt my craft at Colletts in the early 80s, where I worked in Tony Brignull’s group.  

The first ad I wrote was a dealership ad for Neff cookers, which was the lowliest type of ad in the print ad food chain at the time.  In other words you stared at the bottom and worked your way up to press ads, posters radio and TV; building on what you learnt as you progressed.

Well, the solution to today’s copywriting problem might just be found in the most unlikely of places, Google Adwords.  Like it or not, Google Adwords is in pure copywriting terms the most demanding direct response medium ever invented.  As their Chief Economist, Val Harian, puts it, “The problem is that conveying a call to action in three lines of text is a highly specialized skill.”  He’s right.  But at the moment this “highly specialized skill” is either being practised by the advertisers themselves, or their account managers at PPC and media buying agencies, simply because there’s no one else to write the ads for them.  (And surely they have more valuable things they should be doing with their time.)

But this is all beginning to change.  There’s a new breed of copywriter out there –ATO, or Ad Text Optimization copywriters –  who specialise in writing Google Adwords ads. 

In the same issue, talking about the philosophy behind the Brutal Simplicity of Thought idea, Maurice Saatchi could have been talking about ATO copywriting when he says, “It means the only possible words, in the only possible order.”  Perfect.

Surely, we cannot ignore the role copywriting can play in a words only medium that will attract more money this year than ITV1.  What’s more, the benefits are mutual. ATO copywriting will make Google Adwords more effective, and writing Google Adwords ads could help train a whole new generation of copywriters to write truly focussed, concise, simple, effective copy. 

Or, to paraphrase JFK, think not what good copywriting can do for Google, think what Google can do for good copywriting.

Bob Maddams
Chief Creative Officer
The ATO CO Ltd