A Client’s Guide – how to approve a Google AdWords ad text

Just because a Google AdWords ad text is only a few lines, this doesn’t mean that writing an effective ad is easy. Far from it, it’s the opposite that’s true. An AdWords ad text has to be incredibly precise, contain the most relevant information and communicate clearly and effectively in just a few words. It also has to compete against up to twenty other competitors on a search page all saying something very similar and all trying to win the same click. Now, that’s a tough copywriting challenge in anyone’s language.

Many AdWords advertisers simply throw their hands up in despair and rely on stuffing their ads with keywords and paying high bid prices because the way they see it, there’s no alternative. The trouble with this approach is that the users are faced with search page after search page of poorly written ads. Most of these ads get ignored, and those that do get clicked on end up costing the advertiser way over the odds.

However, there is a solution. Write better ad text. Write an ad text that is more relevant to the user’s search, that has clarity and isn’t gobbledegook, that communicates with the brand’s values and tone-of-voice, that is thought about and Yes – crafted – with perhaps a few direct response copywriting principles thrown in for good measure. And guess what happens? Hey Presto – your ad text's CTRs start climbing, so too do their Quality Scores and as a result your bid prices go down.

This copywriting approach for AdWords ad text is called ATO, which stands for Ad Text Optimization. It takes an experienced ATO copywriter to write ATO ad text, but any client can judge their ad text – and hence take the first steps towards improving it – by applying these ATO principles when they approve their AdWords ad texts.

The Ten ATO Golden Rules

1. Clarity – sometimes the concise nature of AdWords means that an ad text simply doesn't make sense because it hasn't been written by a professional copywriter. Or the writer is trying to say too much. This only confuses Users and they immediately move on.

2. Format – an ad text that is made up of two separate statements - separated by a full stop at the end of ad text line 1 – is, according to Google, likely to attract 6% more clicks when the ad text appears in the top positions.

3. Sitelinks and Callouts – does the ad include Enhanced Sitelinks and Callout Extensions?

4. Display URL – the spaces after the / in the Display URL is a valuable extra copywriting opportunity, not least for repeating the Keyword to boost relevance.

5. Landing Page – does the ad link to the Landing Page in what it says?

6. Brand TOV – does the ad capture the brand's tone-of-voice? When ads are written by professional copywriters they say the right things in the right way.

7. Does the ad text try to sell the product/service or win the click? Remember, it's the job of the ad text to win the click, not make the sale. Persuasive copywriting is needed to persuade the User to click through to the Landing Page, which is where the selling takes place.

8. Capitalization – ad texts with each word capitalized win more clicks.

9. Keywords - the keyword needs to be featured in the ad text twice twice to boost relevance. Dynamic Keyword Insertion is a useful tool when used appropriately .

10. International - international brands also need to ensure that their ad text is transcreated, not just translated, for each individual territory. Very often, simply translating English ad text into foreign languages without recourse to local language and culture results in nonsense ad text, poor ROI and damaged brand image.
By Paul Booth

Paul is the Chief Executive Officer of The ATO Co, which delivers ad text effectiveness measurement and ATO AdWords copywriting for UK-only and international brands in over 80 countries around the world.