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ATO – SEO for PPC

25 May 2013

PPC ads have to be ASA compliant.  Proof positive, if needed, that paid search has come a long way and has now matured into a fully-fledged medium.  And as paid search continues to establish itself in the mainstream and attract ever larger slices of advertisers’ budgets, its importance will rise higher up all our agendas.

A new development is the rise of ATO (Ad Text Optimization) in PPC.  Until now, all you had to do to write PPC ad text was to use the keyword a couple of times, describe a benefit and give a strong call to action. Or you could simply let an automated programme generate your ad text. Then you could sit back and let your keywords and bid prices battle it out to get the click.  This has led the majority of PPC advertisers to write their own ads.  And even major PPC advertisers who employ PPC agencies leave the writing of their ads up to their account managers.  Meanwhile, creative agencies are too busy crafting TV commercials and the like to bother with PPC.

But some people are beginning to question whether this is all there is to maximising the effectiveness of PPC.  The argument is being fuelled by a growing awareness of ATO, which basically does for PPC what SEO does for websites.  It places a greater emphasis on the writing of the ad text to deliver higher CTRs.  As a result, the argument goes, PPC advertisers also get more quality clicks, i.e. more buyers and less browsers; higher Quality Scores; lower bid prices and higher ROI.

As PPC becomes more sophisticated perhaps the timing of the advent of ATO is spot on.  PPC advertisers are also becoming increasingly aware of the competitive environment of a search page where they appear shoulder to shoulder alongside their competitors, and what their ad text actually says is now the key element that makes them stand out and win the click.

This has all conspired to place more emphasis on the actual writing of ad text like never before, and has placed ATO at the centre of the debate about the immediate future for PPC.  The problem is though that not many companies can afford to employ full time copywriters of PPC ads who are well versed in the techniques of ATO writing.

That said, this could open up a niche for specialist copywriting companies such as The ATO Co as we employ copywriters who apply ATO to write higher performing PPC Ads for advertisers. It looks like ATO has arrived, and it won’t take long before we know if it’s here to stay.