Ads in the Wild: Words as Pictures

This is the seventh in a weekly series of posts from one of our PPC Hero Allies, Jeff Sexton of BoostCTR, where he dissects and analyzes 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 actionable advice for anyone looking to improve their ad copy.

Facebook ads allow for wonderful targeting control, but pretty much zero typographical control.  You don’t get to

  • Pick the font,
  • Control the font size,
  • Change the font color
  • Add in white space,
  • Use bullet points,
  • Or otherwise control the ad layout, unless…

You do so within the ad image.  And in some cases, where the headline or call-to-action prove so tribal in nature and galvanizing, it makes sense to forego pictures in favor of a bold headline in a big-a** font, featuring prominent, attention grabbing colors.

Here are some examples of ads that do just that:

Facebook PPC AdsNotice some similarities between these?

Well, most of them definitely take advantage of colors – either with bold black backgrounds, punctuated by reverse font and highlighted with screaming reds, or with the even more direct approach of super-saturated magenta.

But the real similarities has to do with the headlines.  First they’re all extremely short, with a maximum of 4 words/symbols.  This allows for larger font and a quick-scan comprehension, both of which are maximally important if you’re getting your words to replace an image.

Second, and perhaps most importantly, they are all extremely tribal in nature: they’re calling out to members, immediately attracting like minds and getting discarded by others.

In half a second you’ve figured out either that you’re interested in baking or not, want to publicly declare your desire to smack congress or not, or if you’re the kind of mom that wants to join the “I heart my kids” group.

So should you consider using your image space as a large-text billboard rather than an opportunity to grab eyeballs with striking images?

The short answer: Test It!

The longer answer: only consider testing it if you:

  • Can boil down your call-out to 4-5 words
  • Are advertising an inherently tribal product or service, meaning one that impacts people’s self-identity.
  • Or, if there really aren’t any suitable images.

On that last point, here’s a pretty good example of an ad where I think most of us would be hard pressed to come up with a striking, alternative image, and where the large-font call-out works just fine as a substitute:

Facebook Google PPC Ad