Information is Not Advertising

A different way to look at contextual ads

I recently attended a seminar in Philadelphia called the AdWords Seminars for Success. The presenter was Brad Geddes, the founder of bg Theory and a long time Internet marketing veteran.

The seminar discussed many aspects of Google AdWords, from writing text ads to testing different variations.

An interesting concept I was exposed to during both days was that “Advertising isn’t advertising when it’s information.”

What a statement! And I couldn’t agree with it more.

When I first heard that statement I began to think about content marketing. Content marketing uses content to promote for products and services. It gives people exposure to the subject matter before ever asking for money and it’s unobtrusive, compared to most traditional forms of marketing.

However, when I heard the concept for a second time, I starting considering it in a different manner.

Is information advertising at all?

After thinking it through, I would argue that information is not advertising at all. To elaborate on my thought, I decided to consult the dictionary.

According to, these are the definitions I came to find:

Information: Knowledge communicated or received concerning a particular fact or circumstance.

Advertising: The act or practice of calling public attention to one’s product, service, need, etc., esp. by paid announcements in newspapers and magazines, over radio or television, on billboards, etc.

As you can see, they are fairly different definitions; which brings me to my next point…

Online advertisements, especially those created for Google AdWords, can be successful when the associated content is informational in nature. For this to be true, the content would have to be purely factual.

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Sure, there are a few different writing techniques that can be used while creating written text ads, but informational ones appeal to users who are searching for specific answers that relate to your AdWords ads.

As content producers and online publishers, we strive to provide content that is informative in nature to our audiences. Shouldn’t the “advertisements” associated with our marketing efforts do the same thing?

For instance, let’s say you created a brand new free download, be it a podcast, video or white paper. This free product is strictly about SEO and answers the questions, “how do I start with SEO?”, “what can SEO do for me?” and “what are strategies for SEO?”

Now, let’s pretend you want to create a Google AdWords campaign for this free product. (Since this is a hypothetical example, we won’t worry with costs associated with this imaginary campaign, etc.)

The AdWords text ad can be something like this:

Looking for SEO Info?

Download our free podcast

It answers all your SEO questions

(Please note that above link is NOT real.)

This potential AdWords text ad isn’t trying to sell anything and it isn’t a blatant advertisement. It does however provide content that is informational, and sends the users to an informational product, which is free.

The AdWords text ad also includes a call to action, as it tells the users to “download the free podcast.”

The relationships started by this advertisement can then lead to revenue in the future.

Writing strong text ads can be very beneficial to publishers, be it within their own content or through systems like Google AdWords. For more information on how to write great text ads, join us for our Writing Killer Text Ads webinar on November 23rd. Peter A. Schaible, Mequoda’s Chief Copywriter, and Don Nicholas, the Executive Director of the Mequoda Group will host this webinar.


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