Oscar Wilde once said, “I love to talk about nothing. It’s the only thing I know anything about.”

Wilde’s wisdom was about 125 years ahead of its time as SEM ad copy thought leadership. Boost Media has analyzed more than 1.3 billion retail AdWords ad impressions and found that it would be better to do nothing than to word-stuff ads in an attempt to nearly (but not quite) hit the 70 character limit in the body of an ad. Inspired by Wilde, we wrote our own poem about these ad length findings:


Ad Length Intellectualis

OFT have we added unnecessary words;
“Use all characters” that is what we have heard.
True, with a body of all 68 to 70 spaces filled,
We see a 28% CTR lift fulfilled.

Yet when we come up short;
With a mid-ranged 65-67 letters to sport,
Travailed is our CTR with a 22% drop.

Authors who stop at 62-64 characters confirm:
Nothingness performs better than adding immaterial terms.
These emptier ads produce an average click-through-rate.

Many common folk in the field
Produce ads with a mid-range character yield.
Standing out with sweet notes of whitespace
Is one way to garner customer attention in a crowded place.


Poetry aside, consider these ad copy insights.

  1. Use SEM data to inform copy length testing across marketing channels.  Small differences in SEM ad length are correlated with wildly different attention-grabbing capabilities.  How might copy length be impacting your brand’s performance outside of the search results page? In 1997, Apple changed the personal computer world with its 15 character slogan, “Think different.” Using inspiration from your SEM data, uncover copy length best practices to fit different advertising contexts.
  2. Eliminate deadweight.  If using fewer characters in ad copy performs best, the next step is to figure out how to pack a bigger punch using less space. The best way to do this is to identify words that add no value. This can be done through large scale SEM analysis. Read the post from last week for ideas on how to get started.

Tune in next Tuesday for more CMO insights plus retail SEM ad copy benchmarks.


About Boost Media

Boost Media increases advertiser profitability by using a combination of humans and a proprietary software platform to drive increased ad relevance at scale. The Boost marketplace comprises over 1,000 expert copywriters and image optimizers who compete to provide a diverse array of perspectives. Boost’s proprietary software identifies opportunities for creative optimization and drives performance using a combination of workflow tools and algorithms. Headquartered in San Francisco, the Boost Media optimization platform provides fresh, performance-driven creative in 12 localized languages worldwide.