Heroview – Analyzing Ad Strategy With Tom Demers

As Co-founder/Director of MeasuredSEM and former Director of Marketing with Wordstream, Tom Demers (@TomDemers) is one of those PPC experts that many PPC marketers want to talk to.  That’s why we chose him to participate in our first-ever live #Heroview – real-time discussions with industry experts via Twitter. There are many SEM experts we at Hanapin Marketing want to meet and learn more about, so we thought you, our readers, would want to hear their advice too! Our Heroviews will be available on Twitter (@PPCHero) and here on our blogs every month. Our interview with Tom Demers, below, is about PPC ad strategy, ad copy, and ad metrics. It’s amazing how much insight Tom was able to cram into 140 characters!

Thank you to everyone who participated on Twitter this past week. Stay tuned for more Heroviews coming your way soon!

April 22, 2011


PPC Hero: Hello everyone and welcome to our first live interview! Today, we’re featuring Tom Demers to see what his take is on ad copy/testing.

Tom: Thanks for having me guys.

PPC Hero: So without further ado, lets get started! How are you today Tom?

Tom: Great, thanks guys! Very sunny here in Boston 🙂

PPC Hero: To get started, tell me a little about yourself. How long have you been working with PPC?

Tom: I’ve been working in search for over five years – in-house, agency side, independent consulting and I’m currently doing PPC & SEO consulting full time at MeasuredSEM.com.

PPC Hero: Impressive. Given the theme of our interview today, how would you rate your experience writing ad copy and testing?

Tom: Pretty extensive, particularly since I’ve started doing some work with the folks BoostCTR– an ad writing network. They write ads for a variety of clients and have a lot of different copywriters, so have a lot of ad tests lately.

PPC Hero: So what is your typical thought process when going about testing different ads?

Tom: I try to think about the audience, and then look at what the data is saying – do I need more conversions, more clicks, or?

PPC Hero: How many variations of an ad do you prefer to have running at any given time?

Tom: Depends on the volume of the ad group – ideally 4-5, but for lower volume groups I run two to get to stat significance faster.

PPC Hero: How should the ad copy for branding campaigns differ from ad copy that’s meant to bring in conversions?

Tom: First, you know: mention the brand :), and also be more disruptive. You want to be remembered.

PPC Hero: What are the most important metrics YOU take into consideration when evaluating ad copy?

Tom: For me it’s: ROI first, conversion volume and costs second, CTR third.

PPC Hero: So what are some red flags that an ad is doing poorly? Perhaps something not as obvious as poor CTR, etc.

Tom: Consistently low quality scores within a tight ad group are a bad sign, and ads that perform worse than their peers. This is a great peer calculation worksheet: http://www.chadsummerhill.com/calculate-peer-comparisons-ppc-data-analysis/.

PPC Hero: Should your ad copy strategy differ between Google, Bing and other third tier engines?

Tom: My approach is typically similar to begin with, but then you’re reacting to different data, so your iterations should be unique.

PPC Hero: How should your ad copy strategy differ between the search network and the display network?

Tom: Completely! Display network ad copy should be disruptive & seductive because of the different level of intent. On the other hand, Search network copy should be relevant & satisfying.

PPC Hero: What is your ad copy advice for PPC accounts with low traffic, in terms of testing ads and writing content?

Tom: Test fewer ads & use tested approaches. If you have a high traffic part of your account, try to transfer successful lessons from there into lower volume portions of your account.

PPC Hero: From your experience, what are the biggest mistakes PPC ad-writers tend to make?

Tom: Ignoring the search query/targeting options and leaving off calls to action: be relevant and tell people what to do next!

PPC Hero: Are there any particular types of ad copy experiments more people should be trying?

Tom: I really like things like symbols (http://bit.ly/fXNupg). You can also try a JARRING, challenging headline as a test too.

PPC Hero: Interesting.. Recently you’ve been working with ad text crowdsourcing. What is the most surprising thing you’ve found so far?

Tom: The most surprising thing is the consistency with which small tweaks have double to triple digit impacts on CTR & Conversions. There are lots of good examples here: http://bit.ly/gswdcU.

PPC Hero: Something to look into. Well, that wraps up this month’s #heroview. Are there any questions the audience might have for Tom?

  • @JARooney8423: For display network ad strategy, do you mean surprising/distracting disruptive, or inciting disruptive? Can you go too far?
  • Tom: Yeah depends on the objective – for direct response & attention I like disruptive but depends on the client too.
  • @JARooney8423: Interesting! Do you find that you don’t need a call to action if your content is really eye-catching all by itself?
  • Tom: I think a CTA never hurts but particularly on Facebook I think a lot of times the image does the work.
  • @SEM_PPC_MattV: Where do you see the PPC industry going? (I’m being intentionally un-specific here).
  • Tom: More display/content, more creative-based (focus on ads and landing pages) & dramatically better tracking.

Tom: Thanks guys! This was fun – cool format and great questions!

PPC Hero: Thanks again for your time, Tom. Some very good insights!

Tom: Anytime! Stay dry!