Good ads are like a good handshake welcoming someone into your brand. Without the right combination of words, extensions, and customizers, your ad becomes a passing wave as your potential customer scrolls past. Be too aggressive with your words and the ad becomes a choking bear hug, ultimately turning someone away from your brand.

So what is the right combination? How can we look a potential customer in the eye, stick out our hand and pull them in again and again?

Here at Hanapin, we often spend time talking about analytics and data. But just being good at crunching numbers isn’t going to take your brand all the way to the top. You’ve got to put on a different hat. You’ve got to use your words. Finally, you’ve got to be creative.

So let’s break it down.

70 Characters

I often hear grumblings around the office related to ad writing woes. “I can’t say all I need to say in 70 characters.” “I’m not any good at writing ads.” “I don’t know how to describe this service/product/etc.” Well, I’ve good news for you: chances are people aren’t even reading every word of your ad. So if you are going to put an ad out there and extend your hand, you want to make sure the words you do use are effective and to the point.

Keep in mind that with all of the following suggestions, the assumption is your account structure is in tiptop shape.

Where is the first place you should turn to find the right words? Your landing page, of course. You should pull features and benefits from your headlines and hero images. Put it on a tee for the Wizards of Google and Bing. Landing page congruency is an easy way to score points with algorithms and improve quality score.

Use your keywords. If your keywords are important enough to bid on, they just may be important enough to be featured in your ad copy. This is where DKI comes in handy. Through execution of the Creative Testing Cycle, time and time again we see ads featuring DKI coming out on top with improved click-through and conversion rates.

I am in need of some ski gear for my upcoming trip to Breckenridge. When searching for ‘ski pants’, I feel my chances of finding what I am looking for are greater with the ad from Sierra Trading Post versus the ad from Wal-Mart based solely on the fact that I find ‘ski pants’ in the extended headline of Sierra Trading Post. My eyes glaze over all the other words in the ad as I hone in on exactly what I typed.




Going beyond DKI and using your keywords in ad copy, using ad customizers creates unique ads so, when done effectively, your ad can mirror exactly what your potential customer is searching.

Ad customizers are a fantastic tool, especially for ecomm. With customizers, we can sync inventory with sale prices, as well as feature countdowns to sales and events.

I need a new Patagonia jacket to round out my ski gear. I also need a good deal. In the examples below, a simple countdown customizer alerts me to the approaching sale deadline, creating a sense of urgency.



Ad Extensions

So you say you can’t say what you want to say in 70 characters. Luckily, you don’t have to with sitelinks, callout extensions, review extensions, call extensions, location extensions, extended sitelinks, (am I done yet?), app extensions. These are all opportunities for you to give your brand value beyond description lines 1 and 2.

I haven’t even touched on the ever-growing list of automated extensions.

For the same max CPC, you can buy a headline and 70 characters or you can buy a multitude (I don’t have an exact number, have I mentioned I was an English major?) of ad combinations using extensions. Simple concept: use them or lose them.

After all the skiing (and falling) I’m about to do, I might want to cozy up under a nice warm blanket. In the ad below, we see a nice bit of real estate being used. Rating extensions, social extensions, and sitelinks are all playing a part in introducing me to the site.


Are you selling boots? Let your customers know you also carry socks and gloves with extensions. Do you offer several different packages of ski lessons? Again, use your sitelinks to highlight programs and special packages. Does your company put to practice values no one else does? Call attention to these special values in sitelinks or callouts.

In summation, use your description lines to target keywords and landing page specific text and use your extensions to bring to light all the wonderful ways that set you apart from your competition.

Test To Find The Best

We have all these options available to us, but that doesn’t mean we are going to hit one out of the park just by using every option available to us. This is why testing ad copy is so important.

Don’t know where to start testing? Just tap into the curious part of your brain and start asking questions:

  • Is stating the sale price better than stating the percentage off?
  • Is an emotional appeal better than features and benefits?
  • Does an exclamation point trump a period?
  • Is using the brand name important?
  • What happens when we swap description lines?

Constant testing improves the health of your campaigns while simultaneously giving you insight into what resonates with your target audience.

Make That Lasting Impression

While there are many steps between a click of an ad and a repeat, satisfied customer, the ad is the first touch point. Don’t let your ads reach your customer with a limp hand and a loose grip. Start off strong:

  • Be choosy with your words
  • Customize the experience
  • Use your extensions
  • Test, test, test

Use this simple strategy to move your ads from a peripheral blur to a hard-to-turn-away lasting impression.

What about you? How do you greet your potential customers?