I got an interesting geo-targeted ad today on Gmail:

If you can’t read it in this screenshot, the headline is “Bay Bridge Closed” followed by the description: “Over Labor Day weekend, the SF – Oakland Bay Bridge will be closed.

On the one hand, kudos to the Bridge Authority for using online marketing to get the message out to the masses (in addition to road signs anywhere within 30 miles of the bridge, it seems). Of course, being the consumate search marketer that I am, I couldn’t help notice a few flaws in the ad text.

My biggest suggestion to improve the ad would be to add a call to action to get me to actually click through and read about the closure. For example, you could do something practical like”

SF – Oakland Bay Bridge closed over Labor Day. Get alternative routes now!

Or you could try one of the four basic human emotions. We could start with fear:

Don’t get stuck in hours of traffic this Labor Day – Avoid the Bay Bridge at All Costs!

Vanity:

Be a smart driver, find out all the details about the Bay Bridge Labor Day closure now!

Greed:

Save gas by avoiding the Bay Bridge over Labor Day. Use the money for a picnic!

Exclusivity

Limited offer! First 1000 visitors get free “I Survived Bay Bridge Closure” sticker!

So good start Bay Bridge, but next time read Blogation before you write your ad . . .

2 Comments

  1. James August 27th, 2009

    Hi David, I think you missed the mark on this one. The ad is about generating awareness, not about motivating action. Their line starts out as 'Bay Bridge Closed', instantly separating it from junk ads and other useless information that clamors for our attention. Compare this with all five of your ads where the meat of the message is buried inside 'fluff'."SF-Oakland Bay Bridge" – Everyone calls it the Bay Bridge, so why would you add the prefix?"Save gas by…. " – sounds like you're about to sell a message about spark plugs. I'd stop reading.Now that I'm aware, I'll start wanting to know more, but I don't need to take action for another week.In one line, they did pretty well. Now let's see if they can pull off redirecting the bridge in a weekend!

  2. David Rodnitzky August 27th, 2009

    Interesting observation James but I think your argument has two problems:1) It goes against experience which suggests that having a call to action – no matter how cheazy – will get a higher CTR than not having one; 2) If the CTR is lower, even if the objective of "awareness" is met, eventually the ad will stop running because Google won't be making enough money on it!

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David Rodnitzky
David Rodnitzky is founder and CEO of 3Q Digital (formerly PPC Associates), a position he has held since the Company's inception in 2008. Prior to 3Q Digital, he held senior marketing roles at several Internet companies, including Rentals.com (2000-2001), FindLaw (2001-2004), Adteractive (2004-2006), and Mercantila (2007-2008). David currently serves on advisory boards for several companies, including Marin Software, MediaBoost, Mediacause, and a stealth travel start-up. David is a regular speaker at major digital marketing conferences and has contributed to numerous influential publications, including Venture Capital Journal, CNN Radio, Newsweek, Advertising Age, and NPR's Marketplace. David has a B.A. with honors from the University of Chicago and a J.D. with honors from the University of Iowa. In his spare time, David enjoys salmon fishing, hiking, spending time with his family, and watching the Iowa Hawkeyes, not necessarily in that order.