Search Marketing - Course

Paid Search

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Ad Copy and Ad Extensions

Digital Marketing Lessons

Paid Search
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Digital Marketing - Study Notes:

Ad copy

As copy and what we say to the consumer are extremely important. When people search, they have a need or want, they ask a question, and we return a response. This is our ad.

Ad copy can be rendered in different ways on mobile and on desktop.

Character limits

We have character limits. So organic results tend to be a lot longer and bigger, but they’re less controlled. The challenge for us as marketers is to work around the character limits of the paid search ads.

These are the character limits:

  • Headline 1 is 30 characters.
  • Headline 2 is 30 characters.
  • There’s a free-form description
  • Path 1 and Path 2 are 15 character notes that come after the display URL.

What I recommend with those is inserting relevant keyword ideas into your Path 1 and Path 2, just to make it appear more relevant to the searcher.

Other considerations

Ads are linked to ad groups, and that means they’re linked to list of keywords. So the closer your keywords are, the more relevant your ads can be.

Well-written ad copy can improve the search experience with your brand. It is an experience with your brand. It is that question and answer. It will drive more clicks, and it can increase conversions because you are funneling people into the correct part of the landing page.

We’ve begun with our landing page and our CTA brings them to the next level. So, if your CTA in your ad says “Sale ends Sunday”, something like that can cause what’s called urgency or a click rush and people will dive in. There’s also additional ad features during promotional offers, which’ll have a time limit. Time limits are great CTAs because they encourage action today, quick and fast action. Also, because you’re paying for that click, you want the action as soon after the click as can possibly happen. So having a time-sensitive or a time-impending CTA can drive that click, and then ultimately, drive the action on the web page that you do want them to take.

Best practices

Structurally, around ad copy, we’ve just got several things we need to consider:

  • Relevant: Is it relevant to the search? If someone has looked for flights to New York, and they get an ad saying, “Cheap flights to Paris”, that’s not relevant. I don’t want to go to Paris. So I’m definitely not going to click that ad. So is it relevant? And the best way to make it relevant is, does it contain the keyword? And when your keyword is contained in the ad, Google or Bing will make it bold, and psychologically, people will see bold in the ad and they’ll spot that and they’ll go, “Oh, that ad is relevant to me”.
  • Attractive: It must be more attractive to them. So if you include things like your offer, and your USP, your brand values, and so on (within those character limits), you can make it attractive.
  • Directional: We’re doing it for a purpose, so it has to be directional. So buy now, whatever it may be, download, tell the person what they have to do next when they land on that landing page. And then, when they’re on the landing page, have additional copy of CTAs to tell them where to go. To download, to buy, to add to cart, whatever it may be.

So the core elements of ad copy is relevance, attractiveness, and directional activity around calls to action, or CTA.

Here, we have an example of some copy here that contain our relevance, our attractiveness, and our directional action here.

So the search query is cheap flights to Paris. The ad says, “Compare cheap flights to Paris”. So there’s a comparison aspect which is attractive because I know there’s going to be multiple carriers. I do want a cheap flight. So if I want to compare price, that leads very nicely into my cheap flight search.

The second thing is it’s an attractive offer. It’s an attractive offer to book because we’re able to see every deals. And the fact that I’m looking for a price-sensitive search, I can compare those prices and I can see deals.

The CTA is directional. It’s telling me to compare. It’s telling me how I can find. It’s these types of words because, ultimately, any kind of research-based activity and comparison-based activity we’ll want those kinds of CTAs just to tell them, “Okay, no you can’t compare here. No, you can’t find here”. And we are, again, feeding into that best airfare deals. So this will be a perfect example of relevance, attractiveness, and directional action to be taken within an ad.

Ad extensions

The next level is to enhance your ads, with what’s called ad extensions. And we’ve a number of ad extensions available to us. These, on a very basic level, increase the size of the ad.

  • Sitelink extensions: These are clickable links below your main ad copy.
  • Callout extensions: They are non-clickable short copy pieces below your main ad copy.
  • Structured snippet extensions: These are non-clickable descriptions for certain items from a predetermined list.
  • Call extensions: These show your phone number with your search results. They can be clicked to call on mobile search.
  • Message extensions: For mobile only, these send a text message to the business. These are very useful for trades people and so on who may use their cellphone or their mobile phone as their core communication device.
  • Location extensions: These show the map location of your store or office from Google maps below your PPC ad. If you are a maybe a convenience store, perhaps you don’t particularly sell online, but you do want to drive footfall within the store. Having that map location integrated with your Google Ads allows you to bring the offline element online and online element offline
  • Affiliate location extensions: These show the locations of other businesses that sell your products – for example, stores where Nike products can be found. You might not sell your particular product on your website, but other retailers might. If you’re like a shoe brand, you might not have that facility to sell that product online, but you might want to direct people to where they can buy it in store.
  • Price extensions: These show the price of your main products or the products you want to feature below your PPC ad. These will be the products that you want to call out particularly in that search. Not everything you do, but maybe you want to call out your top-tier products.
  • App extensions: These promote downloads of your mobile app when people search for your products or brand.
  • Promotion extensions: These show a discount or sale offer and the end date for the promotion to encourage clicks and conversions. It can create more clicks, conversions, and you can set the run dates for that particular extension. These are useful if you have a time-sensitive promotion in your campaign plan.

The most common used extensions are sitelinks, callout extensions, and call extensions. By default, you should probably include sitelinks and callout extensions in all of your ads. Depending on whether you have a phone facility or not, you should include call extension. So sitelinks, callouts, and call extensions will be the three top-tier ad extensions that advertisers should use in all PPC advertising.

This is an example of where they appear. So you can see the callouts are just below the ads there with the structured snippets. And then, we’ve got our deep dive into action using our sitelinks. So this can give just an additional piece of space. As you can see, that ad’s a lot bigger than the other ads on the page. So visually, it takes up more room on the search results page, and can ultimately lead to higher click-through rates.

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Cathal Melinn

Digital Marketing Manager @ Digital Marketing Institute

  • 13 years’ experience in search and display
  • Worked at Yahoo! Search in 2005 as a Senior Search Strategist for the UK Financial Services vertical
  • Moved to the world of agency in 2010 as Head of Search and Online Media for five years 
  • Currently working at the Digital Marketing Institute as a Digital Marketing Manager
  • Previous clients include Apple, Vodafone, Expedia, Virgin, Universal Music Group, Amazon, Compare the Market, and HSBC
Cathal Melinn

Data protection regulations affect almost all aspects of digital marketing. Therefore, DMI has produced a short course on GDPR for all of our students. If you wish to learn more about GDPR, you can do so here:

DMI Short Course: GDPR

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ABOUT THIS DIGITAL MARKETING MODULE

Paid Search
Cathal Melinn Cathal Melinn
Skills Expert

This module begins with the key concepts of paid search and demonstrates how to set up a Google Ads account and create a paid search campaign. It explains how to manage a paid search campaign budget effectively and outlines the different methods that can be used to optimize your paid search campaign. It also covers how to measure and report on the success of a paid search campaign.

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