What to Do When You’re Stuck in a PPC Text Ad Rut


Writer’s block can be frustrating, overwhelming and infuriating.  It’s one thing when you can’t think of what to say or how you want to say it in something casual like a business email.  It’s another when it comes to PPC text ad writing.  Ad creation is part of the fundamentals of our PPC life and one poor ad can be costly.  When we know we need a new ad, sometimes we struggle to think of any new ad copy we want to test.  This is especially true if you’ve been working on the same account for a long period of time.  We’ve all been there.  If that’s you, here are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing again to get out of your text ad rut.

Look Back at Past Results

By looking back in time, you may see some past top performers that may spark some new copy ideas.  Maybe there are some old gems that are worth revisiting. You might also find some seasonality trends that you hadn’t noticed before that may be impacting your current ad tests. Either way, looking back at the trends in your past ads can help set you up for new ad testing ideas.

Look at Search Engine Results

Go to the search engines where your ads are being featured and type in a few of your highest impression keywords. Read through all the other ads and organic results.  This allows you to reconnect with what your target audience is seeing. Here’s a couple more ways to use the results pages to your advantage:

  • Take note of ad copy similarities and think about how you can make your text ad stand out from the others. Maybe your ads show in a different geographic region, but this will still give you a baseline as to what some of  the competition is featuring. For example, I searched “buy dog food online” in Google (see screenshot below).  This is a great example: you can see that the top three ads all have almost the exact same copy in their headlines.  That’s not what is going to get someone to click on one ad over another.
  • Look at the other offers being advertised. In the above example, I might be more likely to click on the Petsmart ad because I’ll get another $30 off of $100.  That might be the offer they should highlight since it’s more than the 20% off one.  Apply that same principle to your ads.  If you have a better offer, make sure it is being highlighted appropriately.  If it’s not better (say it’s only 15%), eliminate it from your ad completely.
  • The organic results can give you new insights into other copy to try. Using the same “buy dog food online” example, as I scrolled down to review the organic results, I found a few ideas to contemplate for ad copy.  In this instance, knowing how many brands are available for purchase might be a huge selling point to include for someone doing such a generic search.  I should be able to find either my dog’s brand or the one that’s right for my pooch with 500+ options, right?  Another listing mentions auto-delivery (which only one of the above ads references).  Customers are going to need more food at some point, so that convenience might be key for some of them.  Lastly, two listings reference “cheapest” which might again be important for someone not searching for a particular dog food brand.  From this example, you can see how the organic listings can spark the ideas you need for your own ad copy.

Look at Current Ad Copy Results

 Analyze your ad copy to determine top performing results by:

  1. Headline 1
  2. Headline 2
  3. Description Text
  4. URL Paths

You may be able to create a “mismatch” ad of the top performing components from your different ads.   Staying with the dog food idea, here is how this might look, with the top winning segments in red italics:

Look at Your Ad Extensions

Take a peek at your sitelinks and callouts to see if any messaging there is standing out from the rest. You can then create a new test ad featuring that particular message. Just be mindful about how the repetitive copy might impact that particular sitelink’s or callout’s results if you choose to keep it running. If I have multiple ad groups with the same or similar copy, I figure this out by downloading my ad report and then creating a pivot table in Excel to see how each copy segment performed across multiple ad groups in one campaign.

Look Back to The Basics

You don’t always need to test an entirely new ad, but just a slight variation of your current winner. Some variations to test include:

  1. Use of Capitalization
  2. Dynamic Keyword Insertion (DKI) vs. non-DKI
  3. Variety in Punctuation/Symbols (Look at the dog food ads. One has a period at the end of headline 2.  Some use “&” while another uses “+” – who knows what little change might make a major difference in your ads?)
  4. Wording in Your Call to Action (Get vs. Buy vs. Shop vs… You get the idea)
  5. Switching the order of headline 1 and headline 2

Check out 10 AdWords ad copy testing ideas you can use right now for some additional ideas.

Look to a Co-Worker

Get another set of eyes on your ads. Ask a co-worker who is completely separated from your accounts for their insight.  As an outsider, their perspective might open up a whole new world of testing ideas for you that you couldn’t see from the trenches of everyday account maintenance.

There you have it – six ideas to help you get through your text ad writing stump.  Writing Ad Copy To Beat Your Competitors Where They Aren’t offers additional sound advice that you should also consider.

What other tactics do you like to use when your stuck in an ad rut?  Comment below to let us know!