Search Psychology – Using Creative Outlets for Writing Ads

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So your client has one brand, but LOTS of different audiences in which to market that brand.  How in the world are you going to reach all of them!?  Chances are, you’re not.  However, by thinking outside the box and using unconventional research tools, you can write effective ads catering to different audiences.

Now, I am not going to go all Sigmund Freud on you… this is really just about exploring how people think and how they find things they want based on different factors in their lives.  As search marketers, we must tap into the minds of our target audiences.  There are three segments we will take a peek at – geography, demographics and economics.  Researching within these segments can give you an insider view on how to best market your client’s brand.

“Instead of needing lots of children, we need high-quality children.”

Margaret Mead has the right idea and I am convinced she would have made a brilliant Internet marketer.  We need to create quality ads that appeal to the right audience and get the right traffic to our client’s websites.  Writing for the masses just doesn’t work anymore.


What appeals to Southerners might not appeal to Northerners.  East Coast and West Coast – totally different mentalities. You wouldn’t use the same vocabulary trying to target a “Valley Girl” versus a “Jersey Girl.”  So how do you reach both of those groups with the same product?  (The only way the same ad would work for both of those ladies is if your client sells hair products…)  First, take a look at the language that you are using in your ads.  If you are targeting the Midwest for a client who sells soft drinks, you will likely use “pop” to describe their products.  On the East Coast, you will use “soda” and if you are targeting anywhere in the South, you just use “Coke” to describe anything carbonated.

Of course, Google makes it easy for Internet marketers to implement geographical targeting.  You can target by region, state, city, zip codes and even a specific mile radius.  You can even use Analytics to see where the most traffic is coming from.  However, it’s figuring out how to speak to those people that’s the difficult part.  Use the Internet as your tool – seems pretty basic, doesn’t it?  Have you ever done a search to see what a particular area of the country is all about?  What are the top attractions in the area?  What do people like to eat there?  What is the fashion like?  Where do people shop?  What groups settled there originally and how does that impact the area?  What is the history of the area?  Finding these answers should give you a good start on writing effective ad copy for that geographical region.


Gender, Age, Race, Married or Single, Professional or Trade.  Ever thought about these factors when writing an ad?  Well today is a good day to start.  You can use local government websites to find all sorts of information about the demographics in your advertising area.  It’s information gathered from the census survey and other big brother efforts. J  Take a peek at this screen shot from a site called Stats Indiana comparing three affluent areas around the country.  We see a break down of population growth, employment stats, race stats, industry types and average salary.  All of these things can make targeting the correct demographic a bit easier.

Consider this scenario:  your client produces fine lingerie (Think Pink!).  We all know that even though lingerie is made for women, it’s really for men.  So how to you appeal to both genders?  You need to write an ad appealing to men so they will buy lingerie for their ladies.  You also need to write an ad targeting ladies since they will likely want the same product for more practical purposes!  To do this, try different calls to action and varying headlines in your ads.


Prospective customers of varying socioeconomic status will respond differently to the same product.  Again, what is important to one group will not be important for another and therefore, your ads need to reflect this.  When targeting a more middle class audience, try using language touting the company’s discounts and deals.  Conversely, you might want to try language giving product benefits and not even mention cost when attracting an audience with a larger wallet.   Consider another scenario: two couples are going on vacation and are looking for rental cars.  They search “rental cars” on Google and this is what they find:

The jet-setting power couple that makes $200k a year is more likely to click on the top ad while the newly wed couple that is watching their pennies will probably click on the bottom ad.  I guess you could say, put your ad copy where the money is…

It’s not technical, it’s not scientific… it’s just how our brains work based on different factors that each of us encounter in our lives.  Advertising based on search intent is a HUGE topic and a little overwhelming to understand, but it can be an even bigger help to Internet marketers.  To learn more about the “technical side” of search intent, check out Jessica C’s post on Session Based Broad and Advanced Location Targeting.

I would love to know your thoughts on this!  Have you tried it in any of your campaigns?  Have I convinced you to start!?

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9 thoughts on “Search Psychology – Using Creative Outlets for Writing Ads

  1. Pingback: PPC Roundup 8/26/11 — Top Secret Edition

  2. Felicia CooverFelicia Coover

    Hello Pankaj!  Thanks for reading PPC Hero.  If the businesses have these terms as broad match in their campaigns, then they will show.  Even if they were a broad modified match both would show.  The first showed for “cars” and the second appeared for “rental.”  Let me know if you start using different ad copy to reach your audiences!

  3. Felicia CooverFelicia Coover

    Thanks for your comment!  I do agree that it is tricky for the e-commerce companies to do this kind of writing.  However, there are times when you can use this for e-commerce.  What if you have a client who sells bridal favors and sorority garb… same company, different products, different audience… the ads need to be written differently.  It is possible to target different areas via zip code in search but it takes a lot of time, effort and lots of ad groups!  For example, you can target East LA and Bel Air geographically via zip code – but would you write the same ad for them?
    This post is really meant for you to think outside the box on where to find information on your target audiences and use it to help write.  Like I said – not a science… but definitely something to think about!

    1. Gargoyle Consulting

      Ah, I see what you are saying now. I think I mistook what you initially wrote about. Yes, writing different ad copy for categories with obviously different audiences (sorority garb) is a best practice and should be taken into account. Yes, different geographies have different dialects, which needs to be addressed. I was referring more to categories that transcend gender and age groups – something like a Lamp.  While there is still data that says “the majority of people who purchase lamps online are women aged 35-65” if you were to make ad copy that focused on this demographic only then you would potentially lose customers that aren’t in this demographic.

      1. Felicia CooverFelicia Coover

        Yes – I agree…it would be really hard to segment gender at this time on search and even in display to a point.  We get so wrapped up in the metrics and the technical part of search marketing that it’s a good reminder to stop and remember that the people that read our ads are REAL HUMANS!  Keep me posted on results of your experiments with this kind of writing – I would love to hear what you find out.  As always, thanks for reading and keep on keepin’ on! 🙂

  4. Anonymous

    I agree with your post in the most part.  But there is many more factors than just these few. However geographic is less of a factor in the UK.  The other major thing I consider is time of day and what frame of mind this put the searcher into.
    I do think the best PPC-ers already consider many of these factors- but then again I did graduate in Psychology 

    1. Felicia CooverFelicia Coover

      Thanks for reading Richard!  Yes, indeed… this is just the tip of the ice berg per se.  I think that looking into these different elements of people’s habits and how they view products is really vital to our industry.  I am totally diggin’ the idea of time of day and people’s frame of mind.  I guess that is why infomercials for burger slider grills and the infamous slap chop do so well at 3am! 🙂

      1. Anonymous

        Thanks for replying.  I’ll have to youtube them ad’s I think we have the George Forman grill as a close contender.

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