Advertising Acronyms: How These Rats Are Gnawing At Your ROI

I’ve known for over a year now that acronyms are absolute garbage when it comes to keywords. Today, I’m going to explain why and demonstrate with a few examples.

It’s a known fact that the more specific the intent of a keyword, the better search marketers can convert the traffic. In non-geek marketing speak, the more your prospects know what they want, the easier it is to close the sale.

That’s because they can explain it to you more precisely, so you can do a better job responding to their needs.

So why are acronyms awful keywords?

With acronyms, your task is doubly difficult.

First, you have the problem that, as with other short-tail keywords, there are plenty of things the searcher might have in mind. Someone looking for “ballet” may be interested in the Bolshoi Ballet Theatre of Moscow, in ballet shoes, in ballet music etc.

Second, one acronym can stand for many things. At least with ballet you can exclude the possibility someone is looking for football boots. But consider this acronym, “CCQ.”

To anyone in the Quebec legal profession, that stands for Civil Code of Quebec.

To anyone with a Mozilla Firefox-Google address bar, (in Quebec, at least) typing in CCQ gets you the Commission de la Construction du Quebec, which means that the Commission is Google’s “I’m Feeling Lucky” search result.

CCQ acronym ppc

But don’t take my word for it. Here’s an ad that showed up in my Gmail account where the subject line included the exclamation, “WOW!”

WOW acronym keyword advertising bidding

Similarly, I was recently studying for an exam on international law that covered the International Criminal Court, or ICC for short. I saw – and clicked on – this ad:

ICC acronym ads

Makes sense, right? Looks like an ad offering the ability to look through the archive of decisions the ICC has rendered?

Turns out the ad offered exactly what it promised… only the ICC meant the International Chamber of Commerce!

So acronyms are also bad for a third reason, which is that their ambiguity works both to attract useless impressions [which lower your CTR and drive your bids up] as well as to attract useless clicks [which drive your ROI down].

The bottom line is that acronyms, like rats, need to be purged. Your advertising ROI depends on it.

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14 years ago

There's two “e”s in “Wookiee.”