Now, I jacked this graph from a Google image search, and it’s satire rather than actual data. But it’s pretty much true, right? People find it hard not to pay attention to scenes that jump out of their mundane lives and slap them in the face.
Since moving in to PPV advertising, I’ve tried several different approaches to varying degrees of success. I’ve tried informational adverts, humour to capture attention, and the subject of this post – shock marketing. While it’s not suitable for all offers, shock marketing is something that naturally integrates very well with PPV. When you’re dealing with interruption marketing, or springing pop-ups on a user who is otherwise engaged, you really need to have an ace up your sleeve to tear them away from whatever they’re expecting to see on the page they’ve clicked through to.
Many people fail to drive a sufficient CTR with their PPV creatives simply because they try to be too cute. They’ve been raised with conventional marketing wisdom that says that if you explain the right benefits to the right user, you’ll enjoy eventual success. While that’s true to an extent, the nature of pop-up and pop-under display adverts is intrusive.
You could be slinging Vodka to an alcoholic and there’s still a good chance that he’ll give you the cold shoulder. Maybe ten years ago you’d enjoy an easier ride. Unfortunately people are naturally inclined to turn a blind eye to advertisements these days. That’s unless they see something so outrageous or so targeted to their needs that they can find the reason to put aside whatever they were doing before.
When I approach my PPV campaigns, I always do so with the same mindset: “How can I make the user stop and stare?”
Research shows, from a number of sources I truly can’t be bothered to dig out, that you have a matter of split seconds to grab the user’s attention. Miss the boat and you’ve paid to be forgotten.
Picture your target audience. Can you honestly see these users pissing themselves in excitement at the thought of what the next 750×550 might bring?
Well, the way I see it, if you want people to catch a message on a highway billboard, you’re going to have more luck if a car has just been trashed in to the support beams. People will stop and stare.
One of the offers I wanted to test out was an auto insurance quote form. There are some great insurance lead gen opportunities, and PPV is a brilliant way of making your living with them.
The problems with auto insurance offers are pretty well documented. Most affiliates are priced out of the PPC space due to advertisers with budgets the size of Texas. The cost efficient platforms to market these offers are PPV and social media networks like Facebook. But it’s not easy to get the average floating surfer to pay attention to an auto insurance offer.
Unless you’re extremely targeted or extremely relevant, it’s going to be hard to interest people with a subject like insurance. I would personally enjoy crunching my balls against my desk more than I would being distracted from my Facebook photo creeping by a loose promise of cheaper car insurance. That’s just me.
I decided to use PPV to target several Chevrolet related websites. I was looking for users who were actively looking to buy a new or used Chevrolet. I can’t remember why I chose this brand. It was something to do with it being the most crashed vehicle in a certain state for three years running. I can’t remember.
As most PPV experts will tell you, you’re going to enjoy a lot more success if you target your traffic source and then try to match it to an offer that fits the demographics. By settling on this Chevrolet crowd, I already had an excellent idea of what my target audience was hoping to see.
It would be very easy to put together a basic creative with a few bullet points and a strapline like “Best Insurance Offer For Your New Chevrolet” or whatever. This will often be successful, but it wasn’t shocking enough – in my eyes – to draw the number of clicks that would be necessary to keep the campaign profitable.
Instead I ventured back to Google Image Search and retrieved a pretty horrific image of a crushed Chevrolet, the result of a high speed car crash. When you have eye-catching provocative imagery, it becomes so much easier to pull the user’s attention off the page. I split tested several different titles and while I’m not going to out my own techniques for driving an image like this home, it goes without saying that bolder is better.
If the aim of your campaign translates in to shocking the user, there are no shortage of directions you can take to get the job done.
How about dating? It struck me just how many advertisements choose to depict stunning women and the guarantee that you could date one of them. But what is the shocking opposite? Well let’s just say the search term “unhappy middle aged man with fat ass ugly beach whale” might have taken a Googling last month.
Got a work from home offer? Pick the ugliest face you can physically stand to look at. Paint it with the tagline “This man needed an excuse to work from home…” Maybe you can see what I’m getting at here. Sometimes being all cute with the benefits of the product simply isn’t good enough for distracting a user. Forget your marketing degree – if you’re one of the 0.06% of readers to actually have one – so much PPV success hinges on being calculating, nasty, and very aggressive. Any attention is good attention. The worst thing that can happen is for somebody to ignore your ad.
It’s possible to get away with shock marketing tactics using traffic sources like Facebook too. But everybody knows that a Facebook intern has the kind of threshold to provocative imagery that a baby has to it’s first tooth. You’re not gonna get very far before some bitch is crying about it. I use PPV for my most aggressive marketing campaigns, simply because there’s not much you can’t get away with.
I would recommend taking a look at your offer and working backwards. Often the best way to come up with an ad creative is to take the single biggest lure of the offer and dump it on it’s head.
Want To Meet Hot Single Girls?
Or how about…
Want To Be Scouting For Beach Whales At Fifty? (Well, you better join now then….)
Want Cheaper Life Insurance?
Or how about…
Want Little Baby Jack To Give Up His Dreams Because You Died And Left Him Nothing?
The push is often greater than the pull.
You’re probably beginning to see why I resent the industry I work in, but that’s just the way it goes. You’ve gotta take advantage of fears and dreams. Shock your audience in to taking action and stop being so nice.
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