Which of these two PPC ads do you think had a higher CTR? Read both ads, make your decision, then scroll down to discover the answer.


PPC Ad #1

Background Checks - Ad #1
PPC Ad #2

Background Checks - Ad #2

Today’s contest reveals an interesting lesson.

But before I reveal the winner (and the lesson), I need you to pick the ad that you think was clicked more often. If you were searching for a way to conduct online background checks, which ad would you click?

Got your answer?


The winning ad is ad number two. It was written by “cartmetrix,” and it improved CTR by 69%.

Here’s why I think it won…

1. The winning ad switches up the title text by using DKI and using the alternate text “Instant Background Checks.” The word “instant” implies speed, which is an important buying criterium for anybody doing an online background check. Contrast this with the original title text, which says “Online Background Check.” The word “Online” does not imply speed, so “Instant” is the better word here.

2. The body copy in the losing ad starts with the price: $29. This is a huge “speed bump.” I expect it stops many searchers from reading any further. Now, listing the price is not necessarily a problem. But placing it first in the body copy is premature because searchers don’t yet know what they’re getting for $29. Furthermore, the price is followed by a comma and then the number 3. This makes the price harder to read, and may be confusing to non-American audiences where commas are used in place of periods in prices.

3. The winning ad leads with the offer: “3 Years of Unlimited Checks – $29″. This sounds like a bargain. Any person who is hiring a lot of employees or needing to do a lot of background checks is going to find this appealing.

4. The losing ad, on the other hand, lists the price first (not a good idea), then promises “3 Years Unlimited Searches.” The word “Searches” is far too vague. I don’t know if a “search” is equivalent to a “background check.” I’m reminded of the ads that promise a free credit report — but then charge extra for the credit score. The wording in the losing ad feels the same way. Am I going to get unlimited searches (which are basically worthless), or unlimited background checks? The losing ad doesn’t say.

5. The losing ad uses the second line of body copy to advertise “Free Customer Support.” Not bad. But I don’t imagine this is top of mind for most searchers. They don’t assume they’ll need customer support, so they may not see the value in this. There’s another potential problem here… promising free customer support makes me question how well the site works. Will I need customer support? Because I’d really like it if the service “just worked.”

6. Rather than address a problem that hasn’t happened yet, the winning ad gets into the mind of the searcher by saying, “Find out Who’s Hiding a Past Today!” This phrasing is masterful because it kills two birds with one stone: 1) It gets into the mind of the searcher, and 2) gives a clear call to action at the same time. What’s more, it generates instant curiosity. If you have a person you’ve just interviewed, you might even be thinking about what THAT person may be hiding. Hard to resist.

The bottom line: The new ad wins because it is structured better (offer, then price), uses clearer language, gets into the mind of the searcher, uses a clear call to action, AND creates curiosity. (Whew!)

By the way…

Boost Media writers are standing at the ready to improve your pay-per-click ads on both Google and Facebook. Sign up today and give them their marching orders.