Ads In The Wild: Sometimes It's Better To Keep 'Em Guessing

This is the first in a weekly series of posts from one of our PPC Hero Allies, Jeff Sexton of BoostCTR, where he’ll dissect and analyze ads he sees various places online. Jeff’s “Ads In The Wild” series will give an in-depth look at the philosophy and strategy behind these ads and will provide a lot of actionable advice for anyone looking to improve their ad copy.

What’s better: the ad with the celebrity voice you instantly recognize, or the one you kind of struggle to match up with the right actor?

I tend to side with the vaguely familiar but not instantly place-able voice, myself.  Was that really Inigo Montoya hawking Crestor?  Nah… Well, yes, actually!

Either way, the trend with voice work is to move away from the professional but anonymous “Voice of God” announcer to embrace a more “authentic” sounding voice.  And if that authentic voice is also a celebrity voice, so much the better.

Which would seem to be a fact totally unrelated to Facebook advertising, except for the question of whether a parallel might not exist for visual ads.

And, yes, apparently there is a parallel trend for visual ads.

Recently Jennifer Sheahan of FBAdsLab fame has recently stated that photos with a little bit of cinéma vérité to them tend to test better than recognizably stock photos, echoing a similar trend in Web Optimization tests that’s been  growing for the last 5-6 years.

And of course, celebrity photos, especially celebrity faces, also tend to test rather well for visual ads, including Facebook ads.

But what about celebrity photos that are so “authentic” (i.e., photos of the rough and unpolished individual behind the celebrity mask) that you can’t quite place them?  Would that be the best of both worlds?

Well, decide for yourself:

Online Arrests Facebook Ad







What’s great about this head shot, is that you sort of know who this is, but not right away.  She just looks like a woman who’s had a really, really bad night that’s culminated in a police mug shot.

But it’s not an anonymous woman… and so you stare at it a bit more.  And, of course, read the ad to try to gain a little context, which is exactly what the advertiser wants.

Only after you’ve read the ad does it hit you that this is THE mug shot splashed all over the news of the infamous ex-Astronaut and convicted felon, Lisa Nowack.

And along with the headline, this is one Facebook Ad combination which works.  The combination of schaudenfreude and (for the right audience) fear of similar exposure, really does inspire a click.

Something you can use?  Maybe!  Celebrity is culture dependent, and with Facebook’s targeting, you can really zoom in on some interesting micro-cultures out there.  Microcultures and niches wherein vaguely familiar celebrity-hood might not be so out of reach.

And even if the exact tactic isn’t applicable to your situation, the larger principle is:

Sometimes getting them interested to know the story behind the picture is worth more than just smacking them between the eyes with celebrity power or sex appeal.

Jeff Sexton is the Optimization Manager for BoostCTR, a crowd sourced ad writing solution that connects advertisers with Boost’s network of expert copywriters and provides guaranteed performance improvement. You can try BoostCTR for free here, and you can contact Jeff here or follow him on Twitter.