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Top 10 Google Ad Campaigns That You Should Consider as Successful Examples

April 2, 2019

In the data-driven world of paid search, it’s easy to forget how to be creative. A fun, innovative and well executed PPC campaign can work wonders for your business.


In the data-driven world of paid search, it’s easy to forget how to be creative. A fun, innovative and well executed PPC campaign can work wonders for your business. I’ve researched and compiled 10 of the most creative paid search campaigns of all time.

While these examples are very successful, it’s not necessary to copy them, but get inspired for more creative ideas that might work for your business!


1- How to Get Your Dream Job by Using Paid Search

Back in the summer of 2009, senior copywriter Alec Brownstein decided he wanted a new job. He decided to target 5 creative directors and bid on their names on Google AdWords. Brownstein presumed that if he often searches for his own name on Google than they would too and this would be his way of getting their attention – and he was right!

Since Alex was the only person bidding on the names of the five creative directors, he wanted to work for, the average cost per click was just 0.10 Pounds.

The Ad was linked to his website. The result of the PPC campaign promoting himself? 4 out of the 5 directors he targeted gave him an interview and 2 of those 4 offered him a job!

The best part of the campaign is that it cost him a grand total of 5 Pounds!

This really was a clever way to play on the vanity of some of New York City’s top creative directors. You’re really tempted to Google your own name, aren’t you?


2- The Infamous BP Oil Spill

Probably the only one on the list I couldn’t class as a complete success but I certainly couldn’t leave it out. Back in 2010, in an attempt to manage their brand reputation, BP decided to cap the gallons of bad publicity via the use of paid Ads. They bid on over 1000 search terms related to “oil spill” and ranked in position 1 for most of them. This allowed them to direct users to a dedicated page on their website called “Gulf of Mexico Response Page” and explain what they were doing to rectify the ocean disaster.

Genius right? Well not really… BP got their tone of voice completely wrong. Instead of talking to users on a human level, I can only assume they got their finest lawyers to write an industry jargon-filled sentence to confuse the hell out of everyone.


3- Ann Summers – Sexy Paid Search

A string of bold Ann Summers PPC campaigns that won the Revolution Awards in 2011 managed by ICrossing, saw them use an innovative way of using paid search as a branding tool.

Their strategy was all about brand awareness. They tapped into current events by bidding on popular news-related search terms. Combine this with some cheeky brand related ad copy and you’ve got yourself an award-winning PPC campaign. Doesn’t sound too difficult now does it?

Not only were the ads shown over 1.5m times, but the campaigns were also picked up by the mainstream press. The BBC, The Guardian and The Independent all wrote about the Ann Summers paid search campaigns. All of this brand exposure cost them just 4.500 Pounds.

The campaign worked so well because the strategic decision to use these intrepid ads tied in perfectly with the Ann Summers brand image.

4- You’re not you when you’re hungry

While it’s common practice in the PPC world to target misspelt search terms, Snickers took this to a whole new level. With the help of AMV BBDO ad agency and Google, they were able to obtain a list of the top 500 search terms. Then, using a clever algorithm, they generated a list of 25,381 misspellings.

Jessica Langdell from AMV BBDO reveals the list of incorrect spellings that brought a surprising amount of traffic for this Snickers campaign.

(wether, gool, ness, amazin, definately, wierd, vacum, moonsoon, publically, facw)

In just two days Snickers reported around 600,000 ad impressions. With a click-through rate of 1.05%, 5.874 visitors made their way to the campaigns mini.

Although I’m not quite sure how the ad agency got Google to approve the campaign considering it’s against Google’s ad policies to run the ads that do not use commonly accepted spelling and grammar.


5- Kleenex Catches Colds

This campaign won the award for the “Best Use of Digital Media in 2013” and rightly so. The geniuses over at Mindshare developed a unique adaptive planning strategy. They realised when people get a cold or flu they turn to Google, years ago they would have gone to see a doctor. This insight into a fundamental change in consumer behaviour allowed Mindshare to use Google to geographically target cities nationally with flu outbreaks, in real time. Thus allowing them to focus the PPC campaign where it was relevant.

For 18 months, Mindshare analysed search trends related to cold and flu and compared it to other data. This included calls to Government health lines and doctor visits. This mode they built allowed them to predict relevant flu outbreaks, at the city level, in real time.

How effective was it? In the 2012 and flu season, 96% of Kleenex UK’s media spend went to regions of the country suffering a live flu outbreak. Total sales increased by 40% year-on-year in the first two months. That’s a staggering extra 432,500 boxes of tissues sold.


6- Sky News

Sky News had the challenge of using paid search to target users who searched for specific new stories. To get ahead of their competition, sky news collaborated with Unique Digital, who took it RSS feed and ran it through their Darwin Optimiser technology. This created keywords that were highly relevant to particular news stories.

A pre-divided PPC budget was in place, which allowed the spend to be reviewed daily in the event of a major news story.

Why did this work? The keywords are highly specific this means that costs per click were low. Click volumes totalled over 100,000 clicks, whilst CPCs were priced under 25p each.


7- The Perfume Shop

The Perfume Shop os the second largest retailer of branded fragrance. They teamed up with Net Media Planet with the objective being to use PPC to increase brand awareness and saliency for the Perfume Shop whilst generating sales of specifically branded fragrances.

The Perfume Shop used the fact that they sell celebrity perfumes to push their ads onto celebrity videos on YouTube for 6 months. Net Media Planet used its Mercury platform technology to bring the relevancy of paid search to display advertising. They targeted videos of celebrities who have their own fragrance brands – such as Sarah Jessica Parker, Beyonce and Peter Andre. They received over 9 million views from the ads and gained a 236% ROI from the campaign.


8- Converse “Domination”

One of my favourite, Converse, the global footwear brand, with the help of the marketing agency Anomaly took a novel and innovative way to connect with their teenage audience online. They really captured their target audience in a fun and creative way.

Through the study of insights, they use Google Adwords as a platform that let them tap into any given moment in culture by becoming relevant and fostering ‘converse-ations’ rather than selling their product directly.

They created a campaign that targeted search terms that their prospective customers might be searching for. A few examples of these are:

“The first day of summer” “Spelling bee” “how to talk to girls” “how to kiss”

Instead of presenting the viewer with an ad, Converse started a dialogue through the ad copy and multiple interconnected microsites that engaged the user in a deeper content-rich experience. It allows them to be there for their audience during cultural moments and its one long path that leads back to their brand.


9- Argos – predictive analytics in performance marketing

The winner of the best PPC campaign from the Search Awards 2014, saw Argos team up with Summit, a company who specialises in online marketing for retail clients. It’s not the first time Summit has won an award working with Argos either!

What set Summit apart from the other shortlisted entries was the use of predictive analytics to predict how customers would behave and adjust bids and ads in near real time. To increase the accuracy of these predictions Summit used data from sources such as weather, TV, location and seasonality. This strategy saw Argos achieve a new record in sales from PPC while maintaining costs.


10- Matt Simpson, Who used Facebook ads to get a date

On April 2nd 2011, Matt Simpson launches a Facebook Ad campaign with the sole purpose of finding himself his ideal woman.

“I’m a single guy with specific taste. I’m only interested in women with the potential to become my intellectual and spiritual partner over the long term”.

On any given night, these women may be in bars. Or coffee shops. Or yoga classes. Or laundromats. In the unlikely case that I’m in the same place at the same time, the only filter I’d manage to apply is physical, At the first meeting, a woman is like a Facebook profile with her privacy settings too high.

How did he do it? Mr.Simpson took full advantage of Facebook’s audience targeting options. Mr.Simpson created ad parameters to target single women aged between 28-34. Their interests would include; yoga, meditation, and books by spiritual authors. He also demographically targeted them to be within 25 miles of his hometown.

Mr.Simpson then created a Facebook fan page with a free contact form. In five days, his campaign drove 30 clicks and 5 leads via contact form for 20 Pounds. That’s just 4 Pounds per lead!

So I hope you were inspired or at least entertained by this collection of creative PPC campaigns.


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