Should Your Ads Be Short or Long? (The Answer May Surprise You)

Not too long ago, I read a really interesting article from AdEspresso. In it, AdEspresso attempted to answer the age-old debate of which performs better: long ads or short.


By running a split test between FaceBook ads of six varying lengths. They also did a pre-test survey of marketers to see which length the experts thought would perform best.

These were the choices:

  • ads with only one line

  • ads with one line + bullets

  • ads with one line + bullets and emojis

  • one-paragraph ads

  • three-paragraph ads

  • six-paragraph ads

And guess what.

60% of the marketers surveyed voted that the best cost per lead would come from the shortest of the ads—the ones with just one sentence. While 29% voted that bullets and emojis would take the prize. Only 11% voted for paragraph-length ads:

But Were the Marketers Who Voted for Shorter Ads Right?

No, they weren't.

Because the test results showed that the paragraph-length ads got more than double the leads of the one-line ads.

So, long ads win. Open and shut case, right?

Don't be so hasty.

Because if you look closer at the data you also see this: Of the longer ad types, ads with one-paragraph outperformed ads with six:

So, in that case, shorter copy beat longer copy.


So what's going on here?…

Does this test prove that medium-length ads work best? Should we all just go out and start creating one paragraph ads now?

Of course not.

If this test proves anything, it proves that asking whether or not "short ads" are better than "long ads" is not the place to start. Not if you want to write successful ads.

Let me explain:

Your Prospects' Level of Awareness Should Always Dictate the Length of Your Copy—From Social Media Ads to Sales and Landing Pages

If you're familiar with Eugene Shwartz, then you know all about the 5 levels of customer awareness. But just in case this is new to you, here's a nice chart from Talia Wolfe at Get UpLift to break it down:

But what exactly do awareness levels have to do with the length of ad copy?

Answer: Awareness levels give you insights into how much information your audience needs to find out from you in order to click.

For instance, if the prospects coming to your ads are in the problem-aware stage, they will need more info from your ad than if they're already solution-aware. Because they don't know much, if anything, about your solution or your brand.

Let's take a closer look at the FB ads from AdEspresso's test for example.

Who were seeing these ads and what stage of awareness were they most likely in?

According to the article, AdEspresso made a "lookalike" audience based on their current customers. So, the people who saw the ad weren't customers. They were cold leads.

But since they were similar to their current customer base, they we can assume they already knew about the type of product AdEspresso offers.

So we can make a pretty good guess that the majority of people who saw the test ads were either in the "Solution Aware" stage. Some may have even been "Product Aware."

Which explains why the test played out like it did.

The audience knew about their own pain and that there were solutions out there to help them overcome it. So one paragraph gave them just enough information to get the click.

One sentence didn't tell them enough and 6 paragraphs was a bit of overkill.

So, the question you should ask to determine how long your ad should be is this:

Who is going to see this ad and what stage of awareness are they in?

Only then can you create an ad that is the right length to get the most clicks.

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