Applying Creativity to PPC and Display Advertising

Published: March 3, 2017  by 

Content marketing and social media get the creative rap in digital marketing. Both are visual and lend themselves to plenty forms of expression – but they’re not the only channels of marketing to use the right-brain.  Pay-per-click (PPC) and display advertising get to flex their creative muscles more often than you might think.

Yes, PPC and display advertising are often data based, but they’re based on much more than that. A lot of thought goes into the ads that appear in your search results and follow you around the web. Effective PPC and display campaigns take the time to analyze client goals, creative strategies, and challenges. BigWing’s search engine marketing (SEM) team walks us through their creative processes of how they combine data-centered strategies with creative applications.

Start With Research Subhead

Start with Research

PPC and display are more Da Vinci than Pollock. The SEM team doesn’t jump blindly into any campaign – they layout groundwork first.

“Whenever we get a proposal request, we always have to do the research on the client. We use the Google Keyword Planner, as well as other tools to get ideas for the best keywords,” SEM specialist Debra Davis says.

This process identifies every opportunity the client can take advantage of while staying keyword-relevant to their business.  It provides the building blocks to a successful campaign.  The SEM team also makes sure they’re familiar with the client’s best landing pages and tone.

“When setting up a campaign, I always read through their entire website to find the best landing pages for the ads that I create, and I want to match their messaging style. It’s very important to have consistent messaging in campaigns,” Debra says.

Understand Client Goals Subhead

Understand Client Goals

BigWing SEM specialist Rebecca Roper starts her creative process with three questions to help understand client goals.

Is the client interested in branding?

This helps determine if brand awareness should be the focus of the campaign, rather than a specific call-to-action. An ad that focuses on a specific brand will try to appeal to the emotions of a prospective customer. It focuses on building a relationship between the business and ad audience.

Will the campaign target users with a specific call-to-action?

If user engagement is the goal of the campaign, you need to capture the right audience with the right message. The SEM team uses audience targeting to identify users by specific actions they’ve taken online and offline. The targeting allows them to show an ad to the audience most likely to engage with it.

Does the company wish to retarget users who have previously visited their site?

Retargeting users who have previously been to the site will include or exclude users who acted a certain way online in the past.

“Retargeting ads should stir the sentiments of the user, whether it is from their single site visit or history with your brand,” Rebecca says.

Once these questions are addressed, messages start to take form.

Think About User Experience

Think About User Experience

“The digital world is constantly growing and changing. It’s important to make sure your ad creative meets the gold standard in display ad formatting,” Rebecca says. “HTML5, mobile, native, responsive, and video ads are examples of formatting that not only allow you to show ads in potential premium placements but allow you to create an ‘experience’ in how you speak to your customers.”

The key to creating an effective experience is emotion. Rebecca explains that it’s necessary to understand the needs and motivations of the prospective customers in order to understand who that costumer is and be mindful of how you would speak to them.  Determine how you would phrase a call-to-action for that person.

Get Hyper-Local

Get Hyper Local with Paid Search

“Another method of creativity is extending your targeting tactics,” Rebecca claims, “Hyper-local targeting allows us to target users where they’re actively engaging on their mobile devices, at very specific locations, in real-time.”

Rebecca uses competing car dealerships as an example. One dealership might show a car ad to mobile users who were at the competitor’s dealership. According to Rebecca, “These targeting extensions matched with ads that display specials, promotions, or sales are a great method for reaching customers in the right place, at the right time.”

Keep A/B Testing in Mind Subhead

Keep A/B Testing in Mind

There are many ways to express the same message, and A/B testing allows you to test two different messages to determine which one is more effective. A/B testing is essential in every campaign.

“In the PPC department, we always do A/B testing. We use various metrics in order to determine which ad is performing better and we adjust accordingly,” Debra says.

The PPC tracks campaigns through engagement. Rebecca also uses this when creating display ad campaigns.

“I track our ad creative using dynamic UTM tags,” Rebecca tells us, “so that we can monitor engagements in Google Analytics. New visits, time on site, bounce rate, and pages per session are a good way to measure the quality of a user that comes from a display ad. Ultimately, user engagement is how success is measured.”

Don’t Be Afraid of Plays on Words

Keep it exciting and fresh – don’t always fall back on the same wording as your competition. Relevant puns and plays on words can grab attention. During A/B testing, don’t be afraid to use messaging that’s outside the norm. It can make a lasting impression. Some industries, like medical and legal, have compliance rules, but it’s important to keep an eye out for clever, attention-catching opportunities

Overall, creativity can play a big role in both PPC and display advertising.

Learn why you shouldn’t ignore Bing as a component in your paid search plan.