"Killing Your Darlings" – the PPC Dangers of the Creative Ego
Published: December 28, 2012
Author: Molly Shotwell
PPC isn’t magic; it’s math, statistics, diligence, common sense, and creativity. The first four elements are pretty black and white — which is not at all to say that all practitioners are equal, just that the pursuit of excellence in those elements doesn’t play favorites.
Then there’s creativity: display ads that pop, landing pages that compel swift and clear action, ad text a browser can’t click on fast enough. Or not.
Although we all preach hard data and A/B testing — make a living with them, in fact — there exists in many of us a devil on our shoulders, whispering in Don Draper’s voice that within us lies a great idea, a clever word combo, a brilliant design that will set us apart from the field.
This voice is great, and healthy — to a point.
In creative writing, the phrase “killing your darlings,” widely attributed to no less an expert than William Faulkner, refers to the distasteful idea that what you, the author might see as a transcendent turn of phrase will actually fall flat in others’ eyes and should be cut accordingly, without sentiment.
And oh, yes, it applies to PPC.
Ever spent a little too much time on ad text that you’re certain will spike CTR? Ever slaved away on a creative until the colors and fonts aligned and set off a little bell in your brilliant little brain? And, most importantly, have you ever given those strokes of genius just a little more leeway on an A/B test than you might have if someone else came up with them?
There’s a reason “killing your darlings” sounds barbaric: it’s damn hard. But a great account manager has both the creative juices and the data reverence to go with the numbers, every time. And if that means you end up going with this…
…then, CTR willing, you pretty much know you’re cut out for this.
– Hillary Read, Marketing Manager