PPC Marketing Lessons from Finding Nemo

by Frank on August 3, 2010

finding nemo
My wife and I recently had a baby – our second – and our 2-year-old has been feeling a little displaced.  So she and I have had a lot of Daddy-daughter dates.  One of her favorite things lately to do is watch Finding Nemo with me.

If you haven’t seen the movie, or don’t remember it, the basic storyline is this: young clownfish gets nabbed by a diver from his home on the reef for the diver’s fishtank in Sydney.  Young clownfish’s dad – a no risks, accountant-type personality – is forced out of his comfort zone to go find and rescue his son.  Along the way, he meets Dorie (voiced by Ellen DeGeneres, who makes the movie), a forgetful and unreasonably optimistic fish who – along with sea turtles, three sharks who have gone vegetarian, some sea turtles, and a pelican – helps the dad recover his son.  It’s a good movie, but having to watch it almost every other evening the last couple weeks, I recognized something interesting.

Does Your PPC Ad Copy Tell a Compelling Story?

In watching kids movies like Finding Nemo, I always worry that I’m going to have to be the bad guy when I explain things like “Pelicans actually just eat fish – they don’t listen to them or talk to them, much less help them.”  Hopefully that won’t be her first clue that the world is a rough place.

Most websites hover at or below a 1% conversion rate.  If the average website were Finding Nemo, this would mean Nemo’s dad gets eaten 99% of the time.

But my PPC Marketing brain invaded my jaded grown-up perspective on animated movies.  Imagining under what circumstances creatures with conflicting priorities (like predators and prey) might work together for a common end was totally plausible.  In fact, marketing people spend their careers attempting to do more or less the same thing every day, don’t we?  Our customers get hit with thousands of marketing messages every day trying to sell them, convince them, or otherwise cause them to do something.  And yet most websites hover at or below a 1% conversion rate.  In Finding Nemo, this would mean Nemo’s dad gets eaten 99% of the time, and that’s not a very fun movie to watch (unless you’re into horror flicks, I guess).

But that’s not how Finding Nemo worked, did it?  In the movie, Nigel the pelican confesses, “Fish gotta swim, birds gotta eat.”  But then there he is, helping Nemo’s dad find his boy – instead of eating him.  Why?  Because Nemo’s dad had a compelling story.  He wasn’t just another fish, he was a dad, struggling against the odds to swim across miles of ocean in order to find his boy.

Take that same approach and evaluate your PPC Ads.  Be honest: Are you selling a commodity? Is the only difference between your thing and your competitor’s thing price? For example: if I look at the PPC Ads under a search for “vacation” I see these two side by side:

Boring PPC AdBetter PPC Ad

While the first one (“All-Inclusive Deals”) appeals to my logical brain and makes me think of Vegas-style package deals with cheap food and hotels, the second ad (“all-inclusive vacation”) appeals to my imagination. I can picture the white sand contrasting with the bright blue ocean, the sunshine, the fruity drink with a paper umbrella. The second ad offers me an experience, where the first one just offers me a deal.

As with all marketing – and PPC marketing in particular – it would have to test out, and there are other factors besides just the PPC ad copy.   I’d probably try capitalizing the first letter of the headline in the second ad, for one.  But my guess is that the second PPC ad – which is in a lower spot – gets a much better conversion rate simply because it offers a compelling story.  It appeals to my imagination.  And, according to DiscoveryNews, daydreams of foreign travel are almost a mini vacation in themselves.

Do your PPC ads tell a compelling story?

  • Welcome back, Kotter!

    It’s funny you bring this up; I’ve been thinking a lot more about post descriptions as they relate to organic search results and how that affects click-through. Just like your example here. Too many of us are too good at finding logical reasons to buy from us. And yet NOBODY buys something (especially something good) because it’s the logical thing to do. You gotta get some endorphines involved, ya know?

    And what are you doing searching for vacations? You know you’re a LONG way away from getting to do anything that even resembles that ….

    bd
    @bdunc1

  • Welcome back, Kotter!

    It’s funny you bring this up; I’ve been thinking a lot more about post descriptions as they relate to organic search results and how that affects click-through. Just like your example here. Too many of us are too good at finding logical reasons to buy from us. And yet NOBODY buys something (especially something good) because it’s the logical thing to do. You gotta get some endorphines involved, ya know?

    And what are you doing searching for vacations? You know you’re a LONG way away from getting to do anything that even resembles that ….

    bd
    @bdunc1

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