OK, without any other pre-amble, pick the winner of this contest:


Got it? Good. Now pick the winner of this contest:


So you’re probably wondering, “why the double contest?”


Because the feature that many experienced ad writers would most likely see as a winning edge — the inclusion of 2012 in the title — simply isn’t. Or at least, it’s not a winning edge all the time.


In the first contest, Ad A is the winner, beating out Ad B with an impressive 174%. So in this case, it seems as if using 2012 in the title to clearly communicate that this is the currency of the anti-virus software is a winning change.


But in the second context, Ad B is the winner, beating out Ad A by an even more impressive 213% increase in CTR.


So what gives?


3 Take Aways


Frist, you have to look to searcher psychology. Mac users want stuff specifically designed for their Macs and not a bastardized piece of software that’s been “ported-over” from its Windows version. So the ad that best emphasizes “designed specifically for the mac” or “Protection for your Mac” is going to be the winner. Those are the ads that best match the searcher’s psychology.


Second, you just never know. While it’s great to have rules of thumb that more-or-less consistently produce better performing ads, sometimes the results will surprise you. You gotta test, because as I said last week: testing rules and opinion drools


Third, ongoing optimization of your ad words isn’t formulaic and it isn’t easy. It takes a lot of testing of a lot of different ad writing approaches. But it IS worth it, as the kind of more-than-doubling CTR results prove.