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October 13, 2008

The Woot Ads: A Step in the Right Direction

by Anthony Verre

Congrats to Google For Allowing the Woot Ads

It’s a hot topic: The Woot Suicide Ads.  The ads sprung up in midst of the financial crisis (economic meltdown) and there are plenty of people up in arms about it. Why?  Believe it or not, the Woot ads are a step in the right direction, the place where PPC ads need to be headed. Check out the story that’s made it to Sphinn’s Hot Topics: “Google Allows Ads Mocking Suicide

The First Woot Ad Yanked

The Second Woot Ad Yanked

The Second Woot Ad Yanked

I hate to qualify answers, but in light of looking like a complete and utter heartless monster, this is a case where I must.  Do I find the ads distasteful?  Yes.  Do I think it’s a good thing to “joke” about suicide and encourage it?  No.  However, the ad, in itself, is brilliant.  The marketing behind it is brilliant.  And, before you start condemning Google (and Woot), think about what it means for PPC advertisers.

Why The Ads Work and Why Need More Like Them

1) Ads That Are More Like Ads

If you do any amount of searching on search engines, then you’ve read standard PPC ads; for example,

Standard PPC Ads

Standard PPC Ads

Exactly.  The same robotic tone, with the same robotic savings, deals, and calls to action.  It’s not that these ads don’t work; people still click on them. It’s that they aren’t conversational.  There’s nothing that sets them apart, nothing that makes them unique.  They all sound the same, and while the text indicates they offer different deals, they aren’t offering different deals.

The Woot Ads were unique, were conversational, and had a subconscious, subliminal language that was speaking to users on level that the “traditional” PPC ads cannot and never will achieve.  It gave the ad an edge over other ads.  More importantly, it give Woot an edge over other competitors vying for the same marketplace and consumer.  Finally, it was an ad that actually functioned like an “ad”.

2) Allowing Google To Become Big Brother

I’ve been in the search marketing game for a few years now.  And the love/hate relationship with Google is constant among us.  What the Smackdown! blog is doing is empowering Google to limit the creative freedom of advertisers.  When you boil it down, that’s exactly what it comes to.

While the entire theme of this blog is based solely on what Google is doing, and disecting and criticizing it, this post has done completely the opposite.  Here’s what it looks like when you search for “goog” today:

The Woot Ad is Gone

The Woot Ad is Gone

Business is about competitive edge and occupying space within a marketplace.  If all our PPC ads look alike, sound alike, and talk alike, then there’s no advantage.  Accordingly, (follow me on this) you feed into the Google money machine: you allow them to curb creative language that can lead to advantage within the marketplace, which in turn, sets the trap for Google to base ads displayed solely on bidding wars and their phantom AdWords algorithm.  They are going to do this anyway, but now you’ve given Google consent that this is how you want ads to look and sound.

I, for one, applaud Woot for having the courage and the creativity to break the mold.  It was genius.  Like it or not, it was.  And, now that people have made a big enough stink about it, you’ve allowed Google to become hyper-vigilant against anything that doesn’t fit the traditional standard.  I thought Google had finally loosened up the reigns a bit.  My mistake.  It was probably just a bunch of disgruntled employees who watched their friends get laid off because Google Stock fell through the floor.


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