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Your Ad Buy’s Writing Checks Your Website Copy Can’t Cash


Study finds 89% of top advertisers have poorly written websites

By James Longley

$142.5 billion. Billion with a B. That’s how much the 200 top-spending US advertisers shelled out for their ads in 2016, according to Advertising Age. It’s a figure that merits some careful consideration.

The folks at VisibleThread started wondering how the writing on these top advertisers’ websites compared to their polished ad campaigns. After all, with online advertising set to overtake broadcast advertising this year, more and more ads are driving traffic to company websites as the point of sale. So VisibleThread studied up to 300 pages on the websites of each of the top advertisers, using four criteria near and dear to our hearts at N2:

  • Readability: How readable is the content?
  • Passive Language: Active language communicates clearly. What proportion of sentences are passive?
  • Long Sentences: What proportion of all sentences are too long?
  • Word Complexity Density: Density rating is the proportion of complex words relative to total word count.

So what are consumers finding at the end of their top-dollar online ad experience? According to VisibleThread, something of a let down. A stunning 89% of the top US advertisers are driving traffic to websites that fail to meet VisibleThread’s criteria.

We help our clients with this issue all the time. They focus on nailing the next product release, on landing the next contract, on refining their market strategy. Then they trust us to demonstrate the results of all of that hard work in clear, simple, powerful language.

James Longley is an editor and writer at N2 with an expertise in tech and data. He provides project management for high-volume, fast-paced projects. Based in the Bay Area, he holds an MFA in creative writing from the Iowa Writers' Workshop.

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