Didn’t Win The Powerball Or Mega Millions Jackpot? Try Your Luck At The AdWords Jackpot!

Image provided by the Multi-State Lottery Association.

Image provided by the Multi-State Lottery Association.

Chances are you didn’t win this past Friday’s $190 million Mega Millions drawing or Saturday’s $600 million Powerball jackpot. However, the great news is that if you’re an SEM account manager, you can still try your luck at winning the AdWords Jackpot!

What’s An AdWords Jackpot?

An AdWords Jackpot happens when all of the paid search ads for a search query are the same or are pretty similar. In this case, of course, having an ad that’s like all the rest is not a winning hand. Here are a few examples of hitting the AdWords Jackpot:


You’ve probably come across many AdWords Jackpots in the past, particularly when searching on queries that trigger product listing ads, like this:


Of course, the reason I call this “hitting the AdWords Jackpot” is because it’s just like hitting a row of lucky 7’s when playing the slots in Vegas – and because there are valuable optimization opportunities to be had here!

Image used by permission from Shutterstock.com

Image used by permission from Shutterstock.com

Any SEM manager’s ongoing PPC campaign optimization activities should include periodically running a few searches on your most high-impression keywords using the AdWords Ad Preview Tool. Be on the lookout for any potential AdWords Jackpots!

What To Do If You Hit An AdWords Jackpot

In this article, I’ll focus on what to do when you win a standard text-ad AdWords Jackpot (excluding PLAs) – these jackpots generally arise due to a complete lack of marketing creativity on the part of the SEM manager, or excessive usage of Dynamic Keyword Insertion.

AdWords Jackpots represent a great opportunity for an SEM manager to do some good old-fashioned marketing and optimize ad text in such a way to differentiate one’s products or service offerings among a crowded pool of similar ad listings.

My respected friend and colleague, Perry Marshall has a pretty cool system for writing compelling and emotion-evoking ad text, which he calls his “The Swiss Army Knife,” as shown here:


Perry’s ad creation process is basically an effective, structured way of brainstorming entities and relationships wherein you list out things like:

  • Your customer
  • A thing that your customer loves
  • A think that your customer hates
  • You (the advertiser)
  • Your customer’s worst enemy
  • Your customer’s best friend

Next, draw lines between the different entities in your list, then try to brainstorm ad copy that connects two of them. For example:


Now, look how differentiated this new ad is compared to the boring and similar search listings on a search for [boston divorce lawyer], and you can start to see the power of this structured ad brainstorming technique.


Not An Ad Copy Writing Genius? Don’t Worry – The Bar Is Pretty Low

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that most text ads stink. Hopefully I’ve demonstrated here that with just a bit of creativity and effort,  it’s possible to do way better than the rest of pack.

Best of all, the odds of realizing better ROI for yourself or your client are millions of times better than winning the Power Ball or Mega Millions. So what are you waiting for?

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: SEM | Google: AdWords | Paid Search Column


About The Author: is founder and CTO of WordStream, provider of the AdWords Grader and 20 Minute PPC Work Week.

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  • http://twitter.com/PowerballUSA Powerball USA

    Interesting take on PPC. What we found particularly comment worthy though was that your 2 big hitters in your title – “Powerball” and “Mega Millions” are both controlled keywords in Adwords so you can’t run PPC on either of them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=46106497 Tyler Eastman

    Doesn’t not having the keyword in your title hurt your CTR? I agree that creativity is important, however in tests I’ve found that many times the relatively boring ad has the best ctr because its not trying to be clever, just very relevant.

  • Thomas Rasinen

    Good insight with the exceptions of the lower case headline and question mark in your sample ad.

  • Thomas Rasinen

    Any data on lowercase or question mark in the headline?

  • Andy Taylor

    While I agree your divorce lawyer ad is differentiated, I wouldn’t necessarily say it would help with CTR or conversion rate. It says nothing about a lawyer, which might be pretty detrimental to snagging someone looking for a lawyer. It also doesn’t clearly define what you’re offering, other than revenge and a smile. While I do love some sweet sweet revenge and smiles, I don’t think I’d be drawn to an offer for them if I were looking for a lawyer.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=46106497 Tyler Eastman

    Divorce the Sleazeball
    Is He Sleeping with “Her” Now?
    Get Revenge & a Smile on Your Face!

  • http://www.facebook.com/mr.larry.kim Larry Kim

    i’ve found this to be true in non-jackpot scenarios.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mr.larry.kim Larry Kim

    find an adwords jackpot and try out the process of testing something different!

  • http://www.facebook.com/mr.larry.kim Larry Kim


  • http://twitter.com/sammmer Sam Mazaheri

    This is great Larry! I saw this situation on a search earlier today but didn’t have the clever term to describe the problem.

  • http://twitter.com/jwdlatif Jawad Latif

    It is good to be different to get attention but the example which you quoted here doesn’t serve the purpose. I would never click that Ad because it doesn’t define your product/service.

    Who is your husband with?
    Is He Sleeping with “Her” Now?
    Get Revenge & a Smile on Your Face!

    The above Ad can be of ‘mobile spy software’. Why would i be clicking it when I am looking for a Divorce Attorney?

  • lucky heart

    making add seems cool… http://nepalclimbing.com/

  • Kenny Tse

    Great article Larry I agree that standing out against competitors in the SERP with not only relevant but also UNIQUE ad copy is paramount to engaging with the right consumers.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mr.larry.kim Larry Kim

    thanks kenny!

  • http://www.facebook.com/mr.larry.kim Larry Kim

    the point is just to come up with something that is both relevant but also unique and differentiated from the rest of the adwords jackpot

  • http://www.dpom.co.uk/ Brett Dixon

    Great Article…We do exactly this and it works fantastically…we stand out more in lower positions, pay less per click and CTR is through the roof! Whilst all of our competitors ads are the same, we are absolutely rinsing it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mr.larry.kim Larry Kim

    good job brett. looks like you found the adwords jackpot!

  • http://www.facebook.com/mr.larry.kim Larry Kim

    it varies by jackpot, but this particular ad in the example had double digit CTR (15%) and the previous ad (boring one) was at 2%.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mr.larry.kim Larry Kim

    nope. the keywords in the ad have very little impact. it’s more the bid and CTR that matters. Find a jackpot in your account and give it a try!

  • http://www.facebook.com/mr.larry.kim Larry Kim

    thanks sam. From now on let us all refer to hitting a row of similar ads as “winning the AdWords Jackpot”

  • http://www.dpom.co.uk/ Brett Dixon

    I never win anything usually!


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