Paid search is often a crowded and competitive place. This is to be expected: if a keyword is commercially lucrative, and has a substantial search volume, anyone operating in that space is going to want to bid on it. And, with Google suggesting that you use the target keyword in your ad text – with most people putting it in the headline – you end up with everyone saying the same thing. So how can you help ensure that someone clicks on your ad and not a competitor’s’? One way is to be disruptive.
But what do we mean by disruptive PPC? This can mean a couple of things. Either: standing out on a search results page where you’d expect to appear, whilst saying something surprising or different, or by appearing for a related term with messaging that tries to tempt the searcher away from their original search.
Samsung has done some great disruptive PPC at least a couple of times during new iPhone launches. They’ve cheekily ‘stolen’ traffic away from people searching for new iPhone models by highlighting superior points about Samsung’s own comparable model, or poking fun at the iPhone offering.
They did this in a couple of inventive ways back when the iPhone 6s launched: first with an “Awkward you obviously mean S6” tagline, showcasing the superior charging feature on the S6, and secondly capitalising on the negative PR of the iPhone ‘bendgate’:
More recently they’ve done this again with the iPhone 7 Plus, during a time when stock issues were causing problems for Apple:
Ok so hands up, this was one of ours, for our client National Accident Helpline – a personal injury claims company. We tried to stand out from the crowd in the highly competitive ‘no win no fee’ space, by at first glance telling the searcher to do the opposite of what we wanted them to do, which is to make a claim.
The client almost had a heart attack when we proposed this ad, but the reasoning came from a place of sanity: we learnt that consumers were worried about the risks involved with making a no win no fee claim, yet no one was really talking to consumers about this, and offering them advice to calm their fears. By running this eye-catching ad, which then leads into “Until you know the risks involved”, we both caught the attention of the searcher by saying something different to everyone else, whilst coming across as a caring, helpful source. This led to some great results, but as with every great PPC message, was swiftly copied by competitors!
When thinking about how you can be disruptive in your own PPC efforts, there are a few things you can think about in order to come up with ideas. The beauty of PPC is that you can test ads against each other, so why not try something a little different against that best practice ad?
1) Surprise the searcher – think of ways in which you can say something that the user would not expect to see, but which is justifiable when addressing a searcher’s underlying motivation for performing that search. For example, with a care home client of ours, we once decided to break the mould of putting ‘Care Home in [location]’ in our headline, and think about what a user is really feeling when they are searching for a care home. It’s likely to be an overwhelming emotional decision about a loved one, and so we decided to reference that directly, and appeal emotionally to the searcher as a caring, understanding provider:
Think about the emotional thought-process behind someone’s decision to search for what you provide, and how you can speak to them in a way which directly addresses their concerns, rather than just stating what it is that you provide.
2) Hijack competitor terms with points of differentiation – does your product have an exciting point of differentiation that someone who’s looking into a competitor product might be interested in? Make a table of product features for you vs your competitors and look for any areas where your product stands out above the rest. Use this as a focused point of messaging in an ad that bids on your competitors brand terms. This is the approach Samsung used when bidding on iPhone 6S, when they were referencing how fast the Galaxy S6 charges.
3) Pounce on negative competitor PR – another tactic to implement when bidding on competitor terms is to reference any negative PR they’ve experienced, and turn it into a positive about your own brand. We’ve seen this with the iPhone bendgate example, where Samsung used it as a chance to state that their phones don’t experience the same problem. This works best if it’s timely, so set up Google Alerts to find out news about your competitors – particularly if it’s around the time of a new launch when there may be teething troubles.