When I first took a look at this contest, I thought I knew exactly why the winning ad won — but it quickly turned out that my initial impression was wrong. Here, take a look for yourself:

So, the main element that I initially clued into was the winning ad’s simple claim that the FLIR E60 was a “Top Thermal Imaging Camera.” This is usually a lot more important than most people would think. Time and time again, I’ve seen a simple, totally unsubstantiated, claim for quality, or cool styles, or ease of use transform PPC Ad performance.

Now, in traditional copywriting, ad writers are taught to always substantiate claims and to steer away from unsubstantiated statements like that, but in PPC Ads, there’s so little space, that I think the ad copy is given a temporary pass on substantiating claims — with the searcher willing to click through to the landing page and “see for themselves” if the advertiser can walk the talk.

And that means that PPC Ads are one of the few places in all of advertising where (temporarily) unsubstantiated claims can work and work well — which is exactly what I thought was going on in this contest!

But then I saw the ad group for this contest: “FLIR E60.” In other words, the ad group and keywords were PRODUCT SPECIFIC, which means the searcher had already done his research, and already KNEW that the FLIR E60 was “top quality” and what he wanted.

In other words, the searcher likely didn’t need anymore reassurances around the capabilities and quality of the product, so that the unsubstantiated claim in the top line of copy was unlikely to be the main differentiator in performance.

And then it hit me — the “Free Level III Tech Support 24/7″ was actually working AGAINST the losing ad. If the searcher already knew the FLIR E60 was the infrared camera he wanted, what he may not have known was how easy or difficult it would be to use. From the product videos, the E60 looks pretty easy to use. But, SOMETHING must be hard about it if it requires “Level III Tech Support,” right?

So the very claim used to sell the product worked against the ad — it raised a concern that wasn’t already there. And that’s how the winning ad came to boost performance a whopping 301%

And that’s two tips from the boosters you can take to the bank:

  • Don’t dismiss the power of an unsubstantiated claim
  • Don’t raise concerns that aren’t already present in the mind of the searcher

Oh, and then there’s always: test you best ads and your assumptions to find out the REAL truth. Doubtlessly, this client thought that Free Tech Support was a big selling proposition or deal sweetener, something you’d obviously want to include in as many PPC Ads as possible. But the test says otherwise doesn’t it.

And those are some tips you can take to the bank.