The Creativity in PPC: Ad Copy Lessons from Advertising Masterpieces

July 20, 2015

In anticipation of the new season of Mad Men (which begins later this month), I thought it might be worth exploring the creative side of PPC. Unfortunately, PPC specialists too often forget their creative merits. Amidst all of the researching, monitoring, and overall managing of client expectations, it is easy to downplay the importance of being creative in the search engine marketing industry. Today, I’m here to preach the other side of the story and encourage you to embrace the Don Draper or Peggy Olson that lies within you.

Don Draper
Day in and day out, web marketers approach their marketing problems with analytical solutions. We diagnose our accounts pragmatically with bid changes and budget management. Ultimately, we are spoiled with instant results, updates, and modifications, and seemingly, we have little in common with our distant cousins in traditional marketing. Most of the time, we live our lives separately from our print and broadcast brethren. If we are lucky, we might brush shoulders with this other media at a ten-year family reunion, but most likely, we are on our own for the holidays.

That being said, PPC is an important component of any company’s marketing plan. Search marketing is a trusted and proven marketing method that can effectively build leads and website traffic much to the client’s satisfaction. Our campaigns and efforts often run in the background of an overall marketing scheme, and if our efforts are successful, then the campaign receives little attention and little fanfare.

So, after downplaying the glamour of the web marketing industry, you are surely asking, “Where does my creativity and inspiration come from all of this?” (Or maybe you are just asking for another picture of the dapper Draper.)

Well, at Hanapin Marketing, we often try to remind ourselves of the power and opportunity we have in writing AdWords ad copy. This is our chance to take risks, flex our creative muscle, and really test the limits of our campaign efforts. To better illustrate my point, I thought it might be interesting to re-imagine some of the most adored print and broadcast advertising campaigns as PPC ads and give a brief ad writing tip to go along with each.

Don’t Be Afraid to Think Different

Apple - Think Different
You’ll See Why 1984 Won’t be Like
1984. Apple Comp Unveils Macintosh.

Don’t be afraid to let your PPC ad display your corporate and product image. If your product is revolutionary, your ad copy should convey that message, too. Whether or not you are ranking in the top spot on a SERP, an ad that offers something new and innovative in a saturated ad space can really attract the attention of a potential consumer. 

The Headline Is Important

A Diamond is Forever
The Honeymoon is Only the Beginning.
Diamonds She'll Love at De Beers!

Great ad copy will distinguish itself from competitors. The best way to achieve this is through a clever headline. Take some risks and occasionally rotate ads in that have unique headlines. You might find one that pays off!

Provide a Call to Action

I Want My MTV
The 24 hour Rock-N-Roll Channel.
Call Your Cable Provider Today!

Give a searcher a reason to click. An ad can be incredibly creative, but you won’t see leads unless you inspire your audience to act in favor of your cause or product. Why is it important for them to click through your ad? 

Make it Simple

In this respect, who better to learn from than Volkswagen? Considered one of the best ad campaigns of all time, the message was timely, simple, and clear. Don’t hide what the product is and what it offers. Believe in the service and be honest and straightforward with your audience. If you are lucky, you’ll have a tiny fraction of the success the "Think Small" Volkswagen ads did.


As you can see, we aren’t that far removed from our print and broadcast ancestors. We possess the same power to deliver a message to an audience and make them fall in love with our brands and products. Admittedly, these ads might not translate with the same significance as the original masterpieces, but take note that PPC has the capability of delivering a powerful message in its own right.

It has been fun re-creating the ads of the past. Can you think of any influential advertising campaigns you’d like to see as a PPC ad?

Caleb Levell
Caleb Levell is a search marketing consultant at Hanapin Marketing. His interests include search and social marketing, online collaboration, and social media for business and non-profit organizations. He blogs at PPC Hero and SEO Boy.

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