Bad SEM/PPC Advice: Keyword Insertion Creates High Quality Ads

I recently read a blog post entitled, “Session: Creating Compelling Ads“, which summarizes one SEM professional’s conclusions from a recent SES lecture. The author describes how using dynamic keyword insertion in ad copy helps increase ad quality and effectiveness.

If after reading this post you’re not already convinced that the strategies he discusses are a bad idea, keep this quote from his blog in the back of your head:

Dynamic keyword insertion allows us as ad writers to appear much brighter and much more creative than we truly are…

I’d first like to point out the differences between compelling ads and high quality ads; trust me there’s a big difference.

A compelling ad will never motivate a searcher to purchase, submit their personal information or download your whitepaper. All an ad can do is motivate them to click through to your site.

A high quality ad is more than just compelling, it qualifies the searcher. It sets your company apart from the competition, and maybe most importantly it accurately describes your company’s offering.

Thinking that keywords are the only piece of PPC strategy that qualifies your audience is a thought every SEM professional should forget.

The basic theory of why dynamic keyword insertion is compelling is because it presents the searcher with copy featuring the exact words queried, and in attractive bold text. Keyword insertion, by itself, only makes the ad stand out from the group, provided most advertisers aren’t already using those same techniques. Keyword insertion does nothing to qualify clicks. Generally it increases CTR but decreases conversion rate.

This is from my experience and tests with both e-commerce B2B/B2C and lead generation clients. Don’t take my word for it, run your own test.

Which ad is more relevant, compelling, and accurate to your intentions if you’re in the market for a new LG 9400 mobile phone?

The top ad doesn’t use keyword insertion, but is still bold and attractive to the eye. It’s much more descriptive of the phone’s features, and gives me the impression that I’ll find the exact model of phone I’m looking for.

The second ad uses dynamic keyword insertion. The headline grabs my attention because it matches my search exactly and if I’m price shopping I’ll like that they offer discounts and free shipping. The only problem is that when I click-through, CellPhoneShop.net doesn’t offer the LG 9400. This ad will have a great CTR, but no one will purchase. A perfect example of how keyword insertion can be very ineffective.

One of the first SEM lessons I learned was from one of my colleagues (Vern), which was that in a perfect world with an infinite amount of time, accounts would be set up bidding on one exact match keyword per campaign with one ad group that triggered one highly targeted ad that lands the searcher on a relevant page. Relevance is key to writing successful ads as well as developing strategy, not a user’s perception of relevance, as was demonstrated with the mobile phone example above.

Because I’m a rational professional, I understand that with some advertisers, keyword insertion has its place (eBay). I also understand that we don’t live in a perfect world, and that no one has the time to write an ad for every keyword that describes your 10,000 item product catalog.

Understand that using dynamic keyword insertion on a large scale is taking the easy way out; it’s a lazy way to manage PPC. Highly effective campaigns are a production of hard work, testing and human judgment, and not automated tools like bidding software, broad match keywords or dynamic keyword insertion.