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Hurry, Sale Now Off!


So as an agency, what do we do with our PPC activity when clients have a sale or promotion that they want to draw attention to, and how do we utilise the valuable space being paid for at the top of the search results? The natural temptation is to write new ad copy promoting the sale and run that as widely as possible across their activity. Well contrary to popular belief, post-sale ad copy analysis across clients has revealed that promotional ad copy underperforms compared to the established, brand or product-focused messages running on an account.

Although it may seem counterintuitive, we’ve seen clear cut evidence that NOT tailoring your main ad copy to include sales messaging might actually be more effective. A recent, first-hand example that demonstrated this was where a sale event ad for one of our clients performed poorly compared to our always-on, brand messages.

It’s clear to see, in this example, there has been a stark contrast between the sale copy and the generic copy. The interesting thing here though is that this is not a unique example, in fact it’s a phenomenon we are seeing across all of our clients that run sale-based copy messages. Furthermore, these findings have even been mirrored by the client’s overseas PPC activities, where the overseas team have reported the same experience and no longer even run sales messages in ad copy.

And, it’s not just us who are noticing this change. In his article, The fall of ad copy, long live ad copy, Nicolas Ross from PMG talks about a recent A/B test they ran for one of their clients during a promotional period. This test specifically wanted to look at the success rate of evergreen ad copy verses promotion-driven ad copy.

On explaining his results, Ross said, “the outcomes we found were captivating. Our evergreen copy drove a 30% higher click-through rate over the course of the promo period, as well as a 19% lower cost per click. Ultimately, this decrease in CPC helped facilitate increased efficiency, saving us thousands of dollars.”

Why do sales messages in PPC perform poorly?

Many studies have shown that users don’t fully read the paid ads at the top of their search results but simply skim them for relevance, searching for their “keyword” within the copy (galling for those of us that pour our heart and soul into crafting them!). Therefore, a generic message will generate a better ad rank by being tailored to the campaign compared to a sale message, which is often a non-tailored piece of copy used across a campaign.

In that respect, writing our ads to satisfy the system’s quality score criteria provides a greater competitive advantage in the search engine results page (SERP) than shouting about the latest sale. Equally, the copy being shown is more likely to include positive, targeted trigger words for the consumer, encouraging a click.

How do we suggest promoting a sale via PPC?

So, you’re probably wondering how we would suggest promoting a sale if not with newly crafted, promotional copy. Accord’s approach is to run ad copy with a brand or product focus which is relevant to the campaign and then use ad extensions to promote sales and promotions.

Sitelinks, promotion extensions, price extensions and callouts all provide opportunities to include sales messages and promotional information, while protecting account performance.

Sitelinks, in particular, are fantastic places to extend sales messages to consumers. They offer space directly beneath the main ad copy to showcase a sales message and take users through to the most relevant landing page. With sitelinks, it is also possible to apply a start and end date. This generates an easy way to schedule sales messages and ensure that they come offline at the appropriate time.

These findings reveal more than ever the importance of relevance within PPC copy. Even if copy has been well crafted and perfectly demonstrates how amazing a client’s sale may be, if it isn’t getting to the top of the SERPs and triggering consumer interest through relevant wording, it may not be as successful as hoped.

We believe that utilising extensions like sitelinks to drive sales and promotions is a highly impactful way to drive performance as it allows not only a specific message to be put across to consumers, but tried and tested copy to continue to triumph in the results.

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