Content Marketing, Convince and Convert, Digital Marketing, Social Media Measurement

5 Memorable Lessons from my Sarah Palin PPC Campaign

Thanks to everyone for participating in my “Are you man enough to write a PPC ad about a woman VP” contest. Many excellent entries (see original post). Here are the results:


McCain is 72 years old 
Avg US life expectancy is 78 years 
Is Palin qualified? Read This 
DailyKos.com   1.31% Click-through rate      

 

Sarah Palin’s Secrets 
What the GOP doesn’t want you to 
know about McCain’s running mate 
sify.com 

2.66% CTR

 

Sarah Palin Revealed 
What makes her so special and 
why the Democrats should worry 
johnmccain.com 

3.62% CTR

 

Who is Sarah Palin? 
Exclusive stories, photos and more 
on the Vice Presidential candidate 
newsminer.com 

4.89% CTR!!!

 

Congratulations to Russ Hollmann (@hollmann) for winning the PPC Contest. He gets $200 from yours truly. 

Thoughts on the Outcome

I’ve been looking at the results and thinking about why Russ won and what we can learn from this contest. I’ve learned 5 lessons from this experience.

1. Mindset of searchers. Interestingly, Google took 3+ days to approve the ads. A call to tech support couldn’t even resolve it. Amazingly, they began running immediately after Palin finished her convention speech (insert conspiracy theory here).

Consequently, once the ads finally went live, I suspect there were more pro-Palin searchers than anti-Palin searchers, hurting the CTR of the lefty-slanted ad candidates.

On a similar conspiracy-scented note, the ads were set to run evenly for testing purposes. However, Google served 175% more of the pro-Palin or neutral ads than they did the negative ones. Hmmm.

2. URLs matter. I forgot that I had to put “real” URLs on the ads – not like the old days when you could do whatever you wanted. Thus, instead of having the same URL for each ad, I had to have the actual URL of the news story to which I linked. See above. For some, DailyKos is Kryptonite. The JohnMcCain.com URL may have been interpreted as less than objective (shocking, I know). The sify.com URL seems mysterious. Newsminer.com sounds objective and “newsie”. That may have helped Russ’ entry.

3. Don’t minimize your audience. Of all the finalists, the winner was the most even-handed. The other ads were clearly more appealing to one side or the other, which may have truncated their appeal commensurately. If you’re running a PPC campaign and are looking to maximize clicks, it may not work as well to take a strong stand in the ad itself – wait for the landing page.

4. Specific promises. In comparison to the other finalists, Russ’ entry promised stories, photos and more. I have seen through 15 years of Internet marketing experience that when you tell people exactly what they will get when they click, they are more likely to take you up on that offer.

5. Use of impact words. While all of the finalists used turns of phrase to make their ads interesting and engaging, Russ’ inclusion of “exclusive” may have helped win the contest. Given that by the time these ads launched, pretty much everyone not in prison knew at least something about Sarah Palin, the appeal of “exclusive” information may have been extremely intriguing.

How do you interpret these results? Add a comment

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  • EKG

    I think your 3rd point might be the biggest thing here. The add with the highest CTR is also the only non-biased sounding ad. This would indicate to people searching for information that the content also won’t be biased. There is so much mud slinging that goes on with the elections it’s nice to just get the facts.

    When it comes to campaign ads Google also specifically states that they don’t want any hateful or negative ads up, which is probably why those pro palin ads were served more than the negative ones.

    I’m curious also, did these ads average at the same positions?

  • EKG

    I think your 3rd point might be the biggest thing here. The add with the highest CTR is also the only non-biased sounding ad. This would indicate to people searching for information that the content also won’t be biased. There is so much mud slinging that goes on with the elections it’s nice to just get the facts.

    When it comes to campaign ads Google also specifically states that they don’t want any hateful or negative ads up, which is probably why those pro palin ads were served more than the negative ones.

    I’m curious also, did these ads average at the same positions?

  • Jason Baer

    EKG –

    I suspect you’re right about the non-biased nature of the winning ad. Average position for all ads was 1.7. Thanks for your comment.
    j

  • Jason Baer

    EKG –

    I suspect you’re right about the non-biased nature of the winning ad. Average position for all ads was 1.7. Thanks for your comment.
    j

  • Russ Hollmann

    I’ve had success elsewhere with this format of “problem” AND “solution”. I actually didn’t even think of pro palin/anti palin at the time, just more in mind of searcher.

    Jason, you mentioned a chance to do a guest post for the winner – I was thinking of a Loren Feldman style video, sans shirt and all. simply saying that you either know your sh*& or you don’t ;)

  • Russ Hollmann

    I’ve had success elsewhere with this format of “problem” AND “solution”. I actually didn’t even think of pro palin/anti palin at the time, just more in mind of searcher.

    Jason, you mentioned a chance to do a guest post for the winner – I was thinking of a Loren Feldman style video, sans shirt and all. simply saying that you either know your sh*& or you don’t ;)

  • Jason Baer

    Congrats on your hard earned victory, Russ. If you want to go semi-nude video blog post, that’s your call!

  • Jason Baer

    Congrats on your hard earned victory, Russ. If you want to go semi-nude video blog post, that’s your call!

  • http://www.fortyagency.com/ James Archer

    I’m not sure I’ve ever been so happy to lose a contest. :-) My entry was one of the more sensationalistic ones (just for the heck of it), but I’m glad to see that the more stable entry took the lead. That seems like a continuation of the general trend *away* from the easy win as the public becomes increasingly media savvy.

    (Side note: I wonder how the URL at the bottom affected clickthroughs. I think people more more attention to that than we usually give them credit for.)

  • http://www.fortyagency.com/ James Archer

    I’m not sure I’ve ever been so happy to lose a contest. :-) My entry was one of the more sensationalistic ones (just for the heck of it), but I’m glad to see that the more stable entry took the lead. That seems like a continuation of the general trend *away* from the easy win as the public becomes increasingly media savvy.

    (Side note: I wonder how the URL at the bottom affected clickthroughs. I think people more more attention to that than we usually give them credit for.)

  • Jason Baer

    Indeed. I’ve regained a modicum of faith in people!

    I agree that URL made a difference. We’ve tested it for clients, and it can be a big factor. In fact, even the difference between including the “www” and not including it can have an impact on CTR. Amazing.

  • Jason Baer

    Indeed. I’ve regained a modicum of faith in people!

    I agree that URL made a difference. We’ve tested it for clients, and it can be a big factor. In fact, even the difference between including the “www” and not including it can have an impact on CTR. Amazing.

  • letstalkandchat

    I just found a great company that builds websites for info products. To keep your costs low, they’ll mentor you on how to create your site, design a marketing funnel (one of the guys works in Hollywood and makes really slick videos), and the other guy programmed Myspace. If you’re looking to have professional web design for your small business and not waste any time or money then check their site out. Check them out: http://www.mikelmurphy.com/easy-info-product-site-system/

  • Kyle Jones

    Probably the biggest mistake people make when doing their own PPC advertising is choosing the wrong keywords just because they want to get traffic. A couple of things to know are 1) General keywords get lots of searches and traffic but are less qualified and less likely to buy. When you’re paying for visitors, you want results, not just traffic. 2) The keywords that are being bid on must be extremely relevant to the product/services you are offering. If it was a retail store, would you want to pay for male motor bikers to walk into Victoria’s secret? Nothing against bikers, it’s just not the target market – and that’s what happens when you bid on general, broad keywords. You get lots of untargeted visitors so your ROI doesn’t work. If anybody wants help with this, call my buddy Simon here: 302-401-4478.

  • http://www.acewebacademy.com/blog/ Kate Hudson

    very interesting contest…congrats Russ!!!!!