Beyond Transparency. How to balance clarity and impact in Google Ads

Observe the following text, on the glass door of an Italian restaurant not far from my office…

What comes to mind?

To me, it’s two things.

1) Unnecessary

What is the function of the text? I’m assuming that the purpose of ‘mind the glass’ is to alert people to the presence of glass, as opposed to empty space.

A reasonable aim… But with that in mind, it doesn’t need to be spelled out. The actual signifier comes from the fact that there’s writing – or any clear marking – there at all…
not from what that writing says.

And it certainly doesn’t need to be repeated in translation to get the point across (I can’t read much Italian, but I can see it just fine).

2) A wasted opportunity

So if the proprietors want text on the door to signal its presence (which doesn’t look necessary – and of course it may just be a legacy from some earlier stage in the life of that glass pane – but I’m no expert on health and safety rules…) – they could then be making use of that text for something… better.

They could use it for something that would help with their deeper objectives: to gain customers and be maximally profitable (perhaps among other, less mercantile aims… But let’s take those two as given).

They could write, for example, “welcome”. Unimaginative, but probably effective.

What's in it for us?

And so to us, with our choice of text in ads and landing pages.

We need to be clear, and we need to be sensitive to how much our audience may NOT know (i.e. beware the Curse on Knowledge).

And yet – sometimes we don’t need to state the obvious – and we pay an opportunity cost by doing so.

Instead of a bald statement – we can usually serve the necessary information along with a side of persuasion…

Info headline:
BlueTech Cameras

Info + persuasion:
BlueTech – Clarity in Every Shot

Info headline:
GreenLeaf Tea

Info + persuasion:
GreenLeaf – A Sip of Nature

Info headline:
MaxCharge Batteries

Info + persuasion:
MaxCharge – Power for Longer

The ‘persuasion’ variants omit ‘cameras’, ‘tea’, ‘batteries’… and that should be just fine. The product category will be perfectly clear from the context of the search results, the URL, and the nature of the benefits proposed…

This is particularly useful for us as paid search practitioners with just two headlines usually appearing from our RSAs (the 3rd rarely shows in practice). The first headline is best used to clarify who and what we are, and the second for a CTA.

Speaking of the CTA… That can usually be made more persuasively rich too – especially with a greater focus on WIIFM ‘what’s in it for me’ (i.e. the user).

Bald CTA:
Shop Now

Rich CTA:
Capture Your Next Memory

Bald CTA:
Order Today

Rich CTA:
Unwind with Every Cup

Bald CTA:
See our range

Rich CTA:
Stay Powered Up All Day

So in our choice of CTAs too, there’s usually an opportunity to add more persuasion – and it’s usually worth taking.

While we always need to be wary of assuming things are clear that aren’t, we needn’t do what the restaurateurs are doing… That is, fixate on transparency, and reduce impact.

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