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Funny, Clever or Stupid? Does Humor in PPC Ads Work?

PPC campaigns (i.e. Facebook Ads or Google AdWords) are not just about managing bids and checking analytics.

author: Michał Kuzborski

.09 February 2016

Even though 70 or 90 characters may not be enough for a copywriter to spread her wings, sometimes the effects of work of an experienced PPC specialist can be clever, funny and outstandingly effective at the same time.

No holds barred

Cats? Puppies? Zombies? Whatever floats your boat! Every PPC specialist knows that some audiences are exceptionally hard to reach. We create ads, they don’t work, create new ones, they still don’t work. Then, all of a sudden, we find ourselves desperately trying everything in our might to draw the tiniest bit of attention of our target group. Usually the reason for this is strong competition, the flood of ads targeting the same group or small size of the target audience itself. Sometimes it’s just the need to stand out of from the crowd.

Funny PPC ad with a cat.

Every PPC specialist know that cats always work.

So here we are, the above ad’s concept is based on one of the first laws of the internet – people love cats. We all experience ad blindness, but there is no such thing as “cat blindness” on the internet.  Unfortunately, we don’t have any data about the performance of this surprising ad found by Cosmic Charlie from SMOSH.

Funny puppy PPC ad.

As a PPC specialist sometimes you have to use a puppy as a last resort.

If you’re employing coders, you know very well just how difficult it is to recruit a good professional. Financial bonuses, gym passes, iPads or… free puppies? Companies try everything to encourage coders to join their teams. Effective or not, this ad undoubtedly stands out, thanks to using a sweet puppy meme instead of IT-stock-photo-porn.

zombie 1 zombie 2

This is an example from Lama Media’s backyard. This is the reason why we believe that sometimes creating a wacky ad can get you further than constant political correctness. It’s from a Polish recruitment campaign for Wroclaw University of Technology – one of the country’s top universities. Going with our client’s courage, we added this crazy ad to a bunch of standard ones created for AdWords and Facebook Ads. We were anything but surprised by the results. Almost 25% higher CTR than any other ad from this campaign!

Funny and effective. Level: master

There aren’t many real masterpieces in PPC ads. As mentioned above, the first reason is limited space – how creative can you get having only 70 characters to intrigue your audience and smuggle a Call To Action? Surprisingly wacky ads from the previous paragraph won’t work for every audience and, what’s more important, most clients won’t accept them, even though some PPC specialists may want to fight for their crazy ideas.

However, you can still find some amusing examples in this digital forest of mediocrity. If not the copy, let the targeting be your weapon. These two examples posted on the Digivate blog show just how much you gain by thinking out of the box while targeting your ads.


First congrats go to AMV BBDO agency, which targeted more than 25,000 misspellings of 500 most searched keywords with their ad promoting the “” Snickers website. Results? More than 0,5M impressions in just two days, CTR 1,05%. And bids for those misspelled words couldn’t have been high.


Next up – the sexy toy & lingerie e-shop Ann Summers. The campaign brought better recognition to the brand and some industry awards to its creator, the iCrossing agency. Their PPC specialist would bid on current news-related keywords to show surprised users clever, brand related copy with a link to the Ann Summers shop. The first one below was influenced by the British Airways Christmas strike in 2009, the second one was related to elections in 2010.



Funny, bold and emotional ads can convert much better than generic ones – that was the main thought of Helen Edward’s (Wordstream) lively talk on Pubcon in Las Vegas in October 2015. We had the pleasure of being there and listening to her in person, and I must admit that it was one of the most interesting sessions of the whole conference. You can read more about the thesis from her talk here. Enough to say, she mentioned that switching a boring ad like this:


to this:


boosted CTR by 47%. The „enormous belly” ad was intentionally a bit off-putting, but it was a clever move that paid off.

PPC can be fun, not only for marketing maniacs. Sometimes ads should be funny, but sometimes humor is just another option you need to check off from your list (try it especially when the case seems hopeless). Just remember that using a surprising picture or something news-related won’t work for all campaigns and sometimes can leave viewers a bit confused. Like in the example below, found together with a free puppy ad on this awesome Tumblr page with its author’s comment that I can’t help but quote:


Michał Kuzborski


Agency's CEO and Head of Sales, Michal co-founded Lama Media in 2006. Gets involved in key projects, mostly from the area of online marketing strategy. Former journalist, big literature and music fan in his spare time.

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