How to Write Digital Advertising Copy
When I first started writing this blog post, I joked to a colleague that I should name it “You’re Not Don Draper (But Neither Was He).” This is because throughout the AMC series Mad Men, the protagonist, Don Draper, frequently workshopped ad copy among his colleagues. So much of the drama of the show tied into how the ad copy and marketing strategy they developed throughout the current episode was applicable to each character’s lives. However, the constraints he faced while writing ad copy faced him to consider carefully how different mediums matched the message he was trying to share.
For example, in the season finale of the first season, he pitches an ad campaign for an innovative Kodak product. It’s a little projector wheel that displays images. What Don realizes throughout the episode is that this strange, little wheel is more than just a display unit, but a way to relive old memories. As he presents his findings to Kodak, he displays precious family moments and suggests a new name: Kodak Carousel. Because he incorporated the product into the pitch, it meant much more to those in the room than if he were to just go up with a fancy poster board.
In that way, it’s important that the message of an ad matches the medium (Don’t believe me? Just ask Burger King UK). When you consider how to write digital advertising copy, it might be tempting to throw some banal platitudes on a page with a cute stock photo and hope it performs well.
However, writing Facebook Ad copy and writing Google Ad copy takes a lot more than that. It takes careful consideration of the medium at hand, knowing how to reach your desired audience, and finding creativity among constraints.
What’s The Benefit? Writing Facebook Ad Copy
Facebook Advertising is a visual medium at heart. It is structured differently than Google Search Campaigns and will serve better as a method of display advertising. As such, it gives a marketer more space to test ad copy, colors, and craft a compelling story that tugs at the consumer’s heart. When you consider how to write digital advertising copy, you have to keep in mind the benefits that lead a person to buy.
At first glance, it’s tempting to interpret that as “What cool features does my product or service have?” However, there’s a lot more to consider. When Set Fire Creative begins writing ad copy for Facebook, the main question we ask is “What problem does this product or service solve?” The Motorola Razr came out in 2004, it offered a sleek body with titanium trim. It was cool, edgy, and thin. It was an improvement over cell phones at the time, but it didn’t really try to solve any consumer problems. However, when the first-generation iPhone came out in 2007, it sought to solve questions such as “What would make a phone easier to use?” and “How can we help people stay more connected?”
The most significant focus that Facebook Advertising places are on audience networks. By segmenting its users into relevant audience profiles, they only show advertisements based on relevant interests. For example, if a Facebook user frequently interacts with restaurant ads or follows a couple of restaurant pages, then Facebook will likely segment that user as “Frequent Restaurant Visitors” or something similar. If a local restaurant then runs a Facebook Advertising Campaign set to target the “Frequent Restaurant Visitor” audience, then the campaign will bid on that individual user against other ads targeting that audience to show themselves to that user.
Unlike Google Search Advertising, Facebook takes one visual advertisement and shows it in a variety of locations. Therefore, one Facebook campaign can display a Facebook Advertisement as a native Facebook post, in abbreviated form in the margins of the Facebook Wall, as an Instagram Advertisement, and within the Facebook Audience Network to display advertisements on partner websites. Therefore, Facebook Advertising serves the company best as a “Push” marketing strategy to potentially convert users with display advertising. Contrasted with a Google Search Campaign, which requires users to input relevant keywords to search out advertising, and therefore would be a “Pull” marketing strategy.
What To Include In Your Facebook Ad Copy
Writing Facebook Ad Copy is simple as laying a catchy hook, crafting a compelling story, and setting up a compelling offer.
- Hook: When someone is scrolling through their Facebook or Instagram Feed, you may only have one second to catch their attention. A hook is your best tool to ensure that somebody stops and reads your ad. Use questions and emojis to get their attention.
- Story: If the hook is what catches your attention, the story is what draws you in. An anecdote that explains the products or service’s use and what problems it solves. A good story should be able to enthrall a reader and get them to see a problem or issue your way.
- Offer: Finally, the call to action. The offer should wrap up the ad neatly and feel natural to what the reader just experienced. The point of the ad is to drive the potential buyer towards a specific, clear call to action on your website or landing page.
Framework & Structure: Writing Google Ad Copy
Although there are many forms of advertising available on Google, most turn to it for running search advertising. A Google Search Campaign must compete in a crowded scene by crafting compelling copy and distributing it based on collected Keyword Ad Groups. Google Search Advertising is traditionally known as “Pay-Per-Click” advertising, but that moniker is no longer accurate to describe the service. In modern practice, a user builds a campaign based on relevant Single-Keyword Ad Groups, which provide a skeleton to host ad copy based on the ad groups’ keywords. Therefore, if the campaign uses the phrase “red running shoes” as a keyword (keywords can be phrases, not just single words), the ad copy should repeat the keyword “Red Running Shoes” in the first headline of the Google Ad.
That’s right, I said “the first headline”.
When we begin to brainstorm on how to write digital advertising copy for a new Google Ad campaign, we first consider the parts of a Google Ad. A well-structured Google Ad will have three headlines, two descriptions, and two “URL Paths”. By setting up the Google Search Advertising as such, the campaign provides a firm organizational structure to build the Google Search Campaign’s skeleton. Each of these different parts of a Google Ad features character limits for each part. These character limits may seem daunting at first, however, I find it to be a prime example of Jonah Lehrer’s phrase “Creativity Among Constraints”.
When you review new Google Ad copy, you might notice that your Google Ad might use a different URL extension that you have a page for on your site. That’s because the URL you see displayed in the ads is a URL referral system developed by Google to create a “path” to your designated landing page while using relevant keywords to increase the expected Click Through Rate of your ads, and improving your Ad Rank overall.
So when you see “https://yourwebsite.com/relevantkeyword” in the Google Ad, it really takes you to your desired landing page. It’s a way to increase Ad Relevance when someone searches, and it gives you a competitive advantage against ads using similar keywords.
What To Include In Your Google Ad Copy:
The structure of Google Search Advertising is clearly organized in order to help your ads perform to the best of their ability. The skeleton of Google Search Ads are
- Single-Keyword Ad Group (SKAG)
Your account is what glues all efforts together. Within the account, you can set up different campaigns with different goals and calls to action. Within each campaign, a Single-Keyword Ad Group holds relevant ads based on specific keywords and interests. Each one of these Ad Groups should specifically measure one keyword to measure ads of a similar type. In order to improve your ad relevance, you take the keyword that the SKAG is named after and place it in your first headline of the ad. As part of Google’s Quality Score that measures your account, having a high ad relevance is critical in ensuring that your ads are shown to your target audience. Ads with a higher Quality Score may even be given better placement on the search engine result page than ads that bid more than you.
Where Can I Learn More About Writing Digital Advertising Copy?
Many sources online offer free advice and training on writing digital ad copy and digital marketing such as Simon Sinek, Sabri Suby, and our own blog (As a frequent contributor to the blog, I stand by the quality of my work). In most cases, it’s not enough to write one ad that “knocks it out of the park”. Frequent adjustment of marketing strategy elevates an ad, expands its audience, and helps to make sure that the ad is continuously seen by persons who are in your target market. Experienced digital marketers found at Set Fire Creative know more than writing creative ad copy, but also how to fine-tune that marketing strategy to meet your needs. Reach out to us today to learn more about how our team can elevate your copy and improve your strategy!
Matthew is a Brand Strategist who has a passion for learning, and for improving the world around him. He does this by helping share the stories small businesses have to share and building bonds between businesses and communities. He’s currently working through a movie marathon of all the Academy Awards Best Picture winners.