Before we do anything else, pick the winner:

So without preamble, Ad A won the contest, more than doubling Click-Through Rates. And in looking at this win, I couldn’t help but see the results as part of a larger pattern, wherein ads containing copy about:

  1. Compatibility Matching, and
  2. “Affluent” Singles/Men

almost always lose to ads that offer the chance for the searcher to “find” matches on their own and that leave out any mention of affluence.

So if they don’t respond to these factors — or if searchers actually do care about them, but are offended at such a bald mention of them in PPC copy — then what DO they seem to respond to?

Answer: potential dates who are “mature” (even when the add isn’t specifically aimed at over-40 singles) and “ready to find someone” (which in this ad takes the form of “looking for dates”).

Now, this may not seem like that big a deal, because it’s “just” online dating, but the dynamic IS a big deal when you think about it in terms of using PPC to find out what your prospects ACTUALLY care about rather than what you THINK they care about.

And once you have that insight it’s applicable to far more than just PPC — it can then be used to improve landing pages, Web copy in general, and even e-mails.

But you’ll never get those insights unless you test, and unless your PPC ad writers come at the ads from different angles, testing out different appeals. In other words, unless you have multiple ad writers capable of adopting an outside perspective on your business and industry.

So what kind of testing are YOU doing? And what are you learning from those tests?