Skip to main

5 Memorable Lessons from my Sarah Palin PPC Campaign

Authors: Jay Baer Jay Baer
Posted Under: Content Marketing
Listen to this Article

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


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

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

2.66% CTR

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

3.62% CTR

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

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 URL may have been interpreted as less than objective (shocking, I know). The URL seems mysterious. 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

My digital marketing training workshops for agencies>>

Get my blog posts in your email>>

Blog Banner Image

Get our best tips in your inbox! Join the smartest marketers who receive our ON newsletter.

Join the Social Pros LinkedIn Community

Join a community of real social pros doing social media on LinkedIn. Receive all the inspiration and ideas straight to your feed and add your thoughts to the conversation.

Follow Social Pros on LinkedIn

Subscribe to Social Pros Podcast

b2b influencer

Ready to Get Started?

I am looking for...