Pay-per-click (PPC) marketing has boomed in the last decade as more advertisers have discovered the benefits of this unique tool. Rather than a large fee up front, PPC advertisers pay a small fee each time someone clicks their ad. PPC ads on search engines, Facebook, and other popular platforms can move a website to the top of a search results page without having to “earn” the position. It can also give massive returns when done correctly: a brand might pay $3 for a click but make a $300 sale.
Google rewards advertisers that come up with PPC landing pages that are relevant and interesting to visitors by charging them less per ad click. This incentive, combined with the potential high returns of PPC marketing, have sparked great creativity and ingenuity in ad content. As brands compete for top advertising spots on the web, the end results can be impressive. Here are the most creative PPC advertisements of the last ten years.
Back in 2014, Terminix got creative with its PPC advertising, using the title “You Are Dead Meat” and the description, “Serial termite killers looking for victims. Pathologically deadly.” This creative and comedic ad catches attention and stands out from other pest control ads that may have come up with a Google search. The most successful PPC ads use humor or another unique, eye-catching factor to make the ad pop. Users appreciate a brand’s sense of humor or clever wordplay and are more likely to click on the ad to experience more of the same.
As if the name of the company wasn’t enough, this brand went a step further with the content of its PPC ads. When users searched for “Gourmet Chocolates,” the company’s ad came up with the same title. The description, however, gets hilariously creative: “Frosted balls, dingleberries, nutty delights & more. Funny & delicious!” Clearly this website is targeting a specific type of consumer, but the ad may have caught others off guard just enough to reach a new demographic. Piquing the audience’s curiosity with this outrageous ad works in this brand’s favor.
Back when the iPhone 6s first came out, Samsung.com got courageous with its PPC ads on Google. Anytime a user searched for “iPhone 6s,” a Samsung ad would pop up with the headline, “Awkward You Obviously Mean S6 – Samsung.com.” This humorous competitive ad takes advantage of people searching for the new iPhone without even mentioning the Apple brand. Ingenious! The description takes the opportunity to tell visitors what the Samsung S6 has that the iPhone doesn’t – “Our battery lasts up to 4 hours from only 10 minutes’ charge!” There’s no telling whether this creative and slightly cutthroat PPC ad campaign actually converted iPhone users, but it certainly grabs attention and speaks to Samsung’s clever content.
While this PPC ad isn’t funny, it does make smart use of a current event. During the disastrous BP oil spill of 2010, searching “oil spill” came up with this PPC ad from BP.com: “BP Oil Spill Response,” with the description “Info about the Gulf of Mexico spill. Learn more about how BP is helping.” This ad may have helped cool down heated feelings toward the company during this tumultuous time. Despite the clever timing and content of the ad, however, BP spent about one million on the PPC in less than one month. This is an example of poor PPC execution but good creative ad content.
The well-known Snickers ad campaign, “You’re not you when you’re hungry,” got ultra-clever when using Google Adwords. This brand took advantage of users misspelling their search terms, creating a campaign using the top 500 search terms and generating a list of 25,381 misspellings using an algorithm. Whenever a user searched one of these misspelled words, the PPC ad from Snickers popped up with the misspelled word and funny description: “Yu cant spel properlie wen hungrie Grab yourself a Snikkers.” This funny and super creative ad campaign is sure to make users chuckle and appreciate Snickers’ smart choice to capitalize on common user mistakes.
In 2009, a senior copywriter named Alec Brownstein used Google Adwords to get himself a new job with the top five creative directors in the U.S. He bid on their names under the assumption that they would Google themselves and see his ad. And he was right! Four out of the five directors contacted Alec Brownstein, and two offered him a job after an interview. An example of the ad using one of the director’s names: “Hey, Ian Reichenthal. Googling yourself is a lot of fun. Hiring me is fun, too.” This ad took some gumption but clearly worked out in the advertiser’s favor. The best part is, the ads only cost him $6 as the price per click was just $0.13.
PPC advertisers can see hefty profits with the right campaigns. A lot goes into PPC landing pages and ad groups before the public sees them. The top tip when creating a PPC ad campaign is to remember that a little creativity goes a long way.