What is Ad Copy? (+ PPC Ad Copy Examples!)

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Published: Feb 28, 2024
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To say that advertising has changed throughout the past century is an understatement.

While the definition of "ad copy” is “a marketing tactic involving paying for space to promote a product, service, or cause,” its purpose has broadened as marketing channels have evolved. Despite a huge advertising “space,” innovative technologies, and clever new tactics, it’s more difficult than ever to make your message stand out.

This is where writing effective advertising messages, or “ad copy,” comes into play. Effective ad copy compels people who scroll social media, search the internet, or check emails to click on your ad and see what you have to offer. It’s important to know how to do it well. 

Advertisement Copy Explained

What is ad copy?

“Ad copy” refers to the copywriting of advertisements — the combination of headline, main body, and call to action written to form an ad.

  • Headline: This is the hook that grabs the reader's attention.
  • Body copy: The definition of body copy is the "meat" of the advertisement — it gives the reader more detail on your product or service.
  • Call to Action: This is the part of copy advertising that inspires the reader to take action through a "push."

It’s daunting to select from various advertising methods or channels. Should you use a video or an infographic? Should you post to Instagram, Google, or YouTube? These are important questions, but by far, the most crucial consideration is what your ad actually says. The words you use make or break your message.

So, before you throw your whole advertising budget on the latest trend, make sure you become familiar with writing effective ad copy.

Why Is Ad Copy Essential? 

Ad copy makes your products or services stand out to your target audience. Effective copy convinces people that your product or service is the one that offers the best solution, which helps improve your conversion rates. 

The best copy can boost sales and increase your profits. The key is to avoid the hard sell and appeal to customers based on their most pressing needs and pain points. 

What Are the Types of Ad Copy for PPC Channels? (+Examples)

With so many PPC channels available, it’s important to learn how to write effective copy ads for each channel. Here is a list of common PPC channels and examples of copy that nailed the assignment. 

Copy Created for Social Media Ads

The most important part of writing effective ad copy for social media is to know your audience. Pull them in with catchy headlines and keep it simple. Use clear, concise copy with strong calls to action. Make sure whatever you highlight about your product or service resonates with your target audience and their needs. 

A book on a screenDescription automatically generated
Image Credit: Screencap of a Cisco Umbrella ad

This LinkedIn ad from Cisco Umbrella effectively highlights a need for the product by telling you how much money your company could lose if you fall victim to a ransomware attack. 

The company reinforces the need with the statistic that by 2031, ransomware attacks will happen every two seconds (This is a prediction from Cybercrime Magazine. If you use scare tactics in your copy, make sure the statistics are real). As an IT professional for a big company, this ad might make you perk up while scrolling through your LinkedIn feed.

Because of its conversational tone, this ad also appeals to people who aren’t managing IT. You might just want to download the eBook to learn more about phishing and how you can prevent it while doing your job. Nobody wants to be the person who costs their company a billion dollars. 

The ad also includes a clear call to action that encourages people to download and read the book. There is a clickable link in the ad and a download at the bottom of the sponsored post. 

Copy Tailored for Display Ads

Display ads are Google’s answer to traditional magazine and newspaper ads. If a company sells ad space on its website, these ads will display as a banner on top of the screen or to the side of the screen. 

Because it’s easy for internet users to ignore these ads, you need clever copy to make them stand out. First, research your audience and your ad platform. Your target audience will differ based on the website on which you choose to advertise. 

Learn about the platform’s core audience and write copy that addresses their pain points. Highlight your product or service’s key benefits and sell them as solutions to these problems. 

A person in a blue uniform and glovesDescription automatically generated
Image Credit: Screencap of a Jobs Ohio ad

This display ad from the Ohio Economic Development Corporation pops up when you log onto the Forbes website. Since Forbes is a popular publication for entrepreneurs and high-level executives, this ad will likely reach people who could be in the position to start a business in Ohio. 

The ad cites a strong economy and a diverse talent pool to effectively outline why business owners should consider moving to Ohio. Its call to action is a simple “see why,” which leads the viewer to the Jobs Ohio website.  

Copy Crafted for Paid Search Ads

If you’ve been in digital marketing for a while, you’ve likely learned how to create copy for search engine optimization (SEO). At a minimum, you're likely well aware how effective this strategy is. SEO involves writing keywords and phrases into your website and other content marketing to boost your organic search ranking. 

Search engine marketing (SEM) is similar, but you pay to move your listings to the top of search engines. Just because you pay to be at the top doesn’t mean you don’t need a compelling headline and great ad text. Your ad displays alongside competitors who also pay to end up at the top of the searches.

SEM ad copy creation is all about intentionality. You write for people who skim the internet, so you need to include the right keywords to pique a potential customer’s interest. 

With paid advertising in content marketing, you don’t have a lot of time or space to make your pitch. Use benefit-oriented language and strong calls to action to create a sense of urgency and compel people to click on your ad. 

Google has gotten creative with its paid searches. If you sell products, you can add multiple product images to show people what you offer. 

A Google search for “red party dress” brings up multiple Google ad examples, including this one from Macy’s

A collage of women wearing red dressesDescription automatically generated
Image Credit: Screencap of a Macy's ad

Macy’s created a specific landing page for this query. When you click on the ad, it directs you to a page full of red cocktail dresses. The ad itself features a variety of dresses that appeal to different people who might want the dress. 

The ad copy goes beyond basic product descriptions and evokes emotion with the phrase “make a big splash.” This ad also highlights free delivery and free 30-day returns, which makes the purchase seem less risky. 

Copy Dedicated for Video Ads

Video is an engaging form of content marketing because you can connect with potential customers better than you could with static ads. Movement, music, and tone of voice can tug at your viewers’ emotions in a way that’s difficult with static imagery. 

But you still need effective copy. Video ad copy could be scripted subtitles or anything else that enhances your video. If someone watches a Facebook video with the sound off, your subtitles take over for the script. 

You can put ad copy in the video through infographics or captions that highlight special offers or direct viewers to your website. Video ad copy also includes your video descriptions and tags. 

Like other PPC ads, video ad copy outlines and communicates key benefits to your target audience.

A group of people sitting at tables in a cafeDescription automatically generated
Image Credit: Screencap of a Starbuck's ad

This video from Starbucks aims to establish their café as the place where real life happens. The tagline, “Every table has a story” appeals to anyone who would walk into a Starbucks and have a cup of coffee. The video itself chronicles a young woman’s budding design career through its highs and lows. 

The ad copy in the video description appeals to emotions with words such as “warm and fuzzy.” It’s a combination of good ad sentences that resonate with anyone, regardless of where they are in life, and invites them to write their own story at a Starbucks table. 

Copy Written for Online Marketplace Ads

If you’re in e-Commerce, it helps to know how to write advertising body copy that differentiates you from the competition. Online marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay have tons of competitors, and you need effective advertising and catchy headlines to reach your target audience in a crowded field. 

A mug with a logo on itDescription automatically generated
Image Credit: Screencap of a Bones Coffee ad


In e-Commerce, compelling headlines and benefits-oriented product descriptions are the way to stand out with a potential buyer. Or you can use the scarcity approach to make shoppers feel like they are in a special club. You might write copy directly on the marketplace listings or use Facebook ad copy and other social media to drive traffic to your website. 

This Facebook ad from Bones Coffee Company immediately draws you in with the “New Mug Alert” header. The example advert uses words such as “exclusive” and “select few” to create a sense of urgency and motivate shoppers to take advantage of the limited-time offer. 

8 Tips for Writing Effective Ads That Convert 

Ad copy does more than provide information about your product or service. It drives action. Before you begin to write, think up a strategy to determine how to best reach your audience. 

Follow these tips and master the art of turning views into clicks and potential revenue. 

1. Know Your Audience and Solve Their Pain Points

Great ads work because they speak directly to your audience. Before you can speak to them, you need to know who they are:

  • What are their demographics? 
  • Which search engines and other digital channels do they use to find you?
  • What are their biggest concerns? 
  • What features of your product or service appeal most to their needs?  

Pay attention to current customer testimonials and feedback. Send out customer surveys to gain insights into your best buyers. Doing so will help you understand the challenges or frustrations your clients experience. It can also shed light on why they consistently choose your products over competitors. 

Once you know what your audience wants and how you can give it to them, you can start drafting compelling copy using the keywords that appeal to them. Highlight your product or service features as benefits that can solve their pain points.

2. Gather Insights from Your Competitors’ Ads

Your customers offer valuable information about their needs and expectations, but your competitors are also a great source of information. Read through competitor ad copy to get a glimpse into their marketing strategy. 

Take note of any keywords or phrases that stand out. Use SEO optimization tools to scan their website and other ad copy for frequently used words. Compare their organic search results with paid keywords to see what they highlight about themselves. 

Don’t forget about their organic following as well. Look through their social mentions and how they interact with followers. All this information will help you position yourself against your competitors. 

Competitor keyword research gives you an idea of what they offer and how they position themselves, so you can write ad copy that positions your company as the better option. Or you could go after a different target audience altogether.

3. Include the Right Keywords

Choosing keywords for ad copy is slightly different than how you would do it for SEO. You still want to add the keywords and phrases that appeal to your customers. However, you also want to use the ones that will attract people who are likely to click on your ad and take advantage of your offer. 

High-quality keywords will help you appear in relevant searches and appeal to your customer base. Avoid being too specific. Only describing your product or service limits you to specific queries. 

For example, you might be tempted to write an ad featuring the keywords “best kid-friendly wedding venues.” This phrase might appeal to people looking for kid-friendly wedding venues, but you might not show up in a general search for “wedding venues in XYZ City.” 

Do some keyword research. Then, brainstorm multiple ideas for each digital platform and test different versions of each ad before you launch on a large scale. That way, you’ll better understand which keywords land with your audience. 

Then, put your keywords in your headlines and use the ad body copy to flesh out your offer and add your call to action. 

4. Avoid Passive Voice and Talk Directly to Your Target

In the digital sphere, you might have seconds to capture a potential buyer’s attention. You want your ad copy to count, and passive voice will not help you achieve this goal. Passive voice tends to be overly wordy, and the goal of ad copy is precision. 

Active voice is a lot more direct. It feels more like you’re talking to your target and helps them understand your offer quickly. Consider the difference between these two lines of copy: 

“Sign up now and get 25% off your next order.” 

“A discount of 25% on your next order will be offered for signing up today.” 

The first sentence is short and punchy. It tells the viewer exactly what to do and what they will get when they sign up. 

5. Be Concise and Use Action Words

The example above is also effective because it uses the action words “sign up now.” Powerful verbs inspire people to do something. Marketing pioneer David Ogilvy once said, “On average, five times as many people read the headline as they do the copy.” 

In a sea of hundreds and thousands of posts on the internet, you have limited space to convince people to buy from you. Concise copy with action words has the power to conjure images of people who use your product or service. 

In the Macy’s ad discussed earlier, the copywriter started the ad with the words, “Make a big splash.” With four simple words, a person can picture themselves all dolled up in the red cocktail dress, making heads turn as they walk into the party. 

Action words make it more enticing to click on your ad and read more about what you have to offer. Once you’ve brought the shopper into the store, you can expand on what you have to offer with even more ad copy. 

6. Use the Psychology of Persuasion and Emotional Triggers

When you appeal to a potential customer’s emotions, it can help them connect with your ad or compel them to buy your product. The Cisco Umbrella ad discussed earlier uses frightening statistics to play on a potential customer’s emotions. Anyone who is reasonably worried about becoming the victim of a ransomware attack might be interested in the company’s book.  

You need step one to implement step six. Knowing your audience lets you tap into the right emotional triggers. You’re not limited to fear. You can also use words and phrases to create excitement about your product or create a sense of FOMO by adding clues such as “limited time” or “act now.” 

Examples of emotional triggers include: 

  • Human relationships
  • Familiarity
  • Hope
  • Sense of urgency
  • Instant gratification
  • Value and proof of value
  • Trust
  • Credibility
  • Desire to belong

7. Include an Irresistible Call to Action

Your call to action can make or break your ad. If you manage to drive people to your site but don’t have a clear CTA on your landing page, they might leave without taking action. 

Emotional appeal comes into play when it's time to write a call to action. One of the most common ways to compel action is to tell your customers that the offer is only good for a limited time. Using terms such as “act now” or “sign up before we sell out” communicates urgency to a potential customer. 

Start your CTA with a verb. If you run an e-Commerce site, start with a word such as “buy” or “order.” 

If you sell software as a service or an actual service, you could write “schedule a demo” or “contact a sales rep.” 

Stand out and add emotion to your CTA. If you work for a restaurant, your CTA could say, “Plan a date night they’ll never forget,” with a link to your reservations page. 

8. Ensure Your Ad and Landing Page Copy Relate to Each Other

People will click on your ad because it resonates with them. They are drawn to keywords and ad copy that meets their needs. Consistency is important on your landing pages. Otherwise, you risk appearing to bait and switch your customers. 

Make sure the keywords in your ads appear throughout your landing page content. If you offer a specific discount or promotion in your ads, make sure you list it on your landing page. 

If your ad encourages people to sign up for a free product demonstration, put a sign-up form on your landing page so potential customers can get into your queue faster. 

How Can AI Help You Write Better Copy for Your Ads? 

Technology has improved to the point where you’re no longer alone in your quest to create ad copy that sells. Artificial intelligence (AI) can use machine learning and natural language processing to generate ad copy from a simple prompt. 

However, AI-generated ads are not as effective as those you write yourself. AI doesn’t understand human emotion as well as you do and can’t achieve the same results as great storytelling. However, it can be a great tool.

Some effective ways to leverage AI in ad copy include:

  • Create a list of keywords: AI can help identify keywords to include in advertisements.
  • Create a buyer persona: Ask AI questions to better understand your audience. For example, if you tell your AI to respond as a 34-year-old, busy mom with young children, you can then ask the bot questions to understand this target customer. 
  • Refine copy: You might enter your copy into the tool and ask it to rewrite it using active voice. 
  • Analyze: Since AI is good at web crawling in seconds, use it to analyze your competitors’ websites and ads and make a list of keywords and other themes. 

Don’t rely on AI to write your copy for you. Instead, use it as a supplemental tool to make your writing better. 

Start Writing Ad Copy That Converts

Effective ad copy is a must for anyone who wants to attract customers and make more money. It takes some effort because you have to get to know your audience and build a deep understanding of what motivates them to buy. 

Armed with this knowledge, you can use concise, action-oriented language that appeals to your audience. You’re not in it alone. Compose.ly can help. Our network of freelance writers includes experienced copywriters who understand what it takes to write copy that converts. We will meet with you to determine your goals and write dynamic ad copy that gets you noticed online. 

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