Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising continues to spread to more and more social networks (think Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.) and native ad formats (think Yahoo Gemini and the new Bing Native Ads announced last week.) With so many PPC ads shown for something other than a response to a keyword-based search, advertisers need to up their ad copy game. They need content-caliber ad copy.

What Is Content-Caliber Ad Copy?

Simply put, content-caliber ad copy meshes interest-based cues with a direct call to action (CTA). It is one part article headline and one part PPC ad, like a former Buzzfeed writer became a radio pitch man. Catchy, but also brief and to the point.

Perhaps a few examples will help illustrate what I mean:

This is from the Yahoo homepage.


This is from the Buzzfeed homepage.


Notice that these ads are right in line with regular ol’ posts and articles. In the Yahoo example, they put the image on the other side and the image is slightly larger. The tiny “Sponsored $” tag is grey on white and almost invisible. Buzzfeed is at least more transparent by clearly marking the post as promoted by Clean & Clear. However, the formatting is exactly the same as the surrounding content.

Writing Content-Caliber Ad Copy

You know what a content-caliber ad looks like, but if you’re going to create such ads yourself, you need to understand the underlying principles that make them successful:

-The content is the primary focus. Each has a headline that is focused exclusively on the content of the article/post. Whether it’s BFF bracelets or game rumors, content-caliber ads put the lead up front.

They use emotional appeal. Our Yahoo ad is trying to evoke the excitement of getting a big scoop on upcoming gaming news. Buzzfeed is really laying it on thick with copy like “loving the real you” and “you deserve”. Authenticity and entitlement are strong emotional cues that get your ad, instead of the surrounding articles, clicked.

-They still use CTAs. It wouldn’t be PPC if you didn’t tell people what next step to take. Our Buzzfeed ad is obviously pushing toward the purchase right away, whereas the Yahoo ad is trying to get you to read the article before making the ask. Either way, you see the ad copy specifically stating what the next step is if the reader agrees with the ad copy.


Give these methods a try and see how your CTR responds. Good luck!

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Robert Brady
Robert Brady is the Senior Manager: Software, SMB & Strategy at Clix Marketing, a company that provides PPC management for SMBs. He currently resides in Idaho Falls, ID, and can often be found skiing , mountain biking, or playing ultimate Frisbee at the park on a Saturday morning. The best way to say hello is through Twitter, where you can find him @robert_brady.