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When Did “Click Here” Become a Naughty Call-to-Action?

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Adwords Naughtiness

I have to get something off my chest. For as long as we’ve been designing websites and online advertising, I’ve come across what seems to be a time-worn bias against using the expression “click here” as a call-to-action.

This phobia mystifies me. Recently, I was creating an Adwords ad for a graphic design client of ours. Following yet another tried-and-true best practice of embedding a call-to-action within the teeny-weeny copy parameters, it occurred to me that

Click Here for Creativity

would be a nifty, alliterative phrase that might induce click-throughs. No sooner than the expression leapt from my keyboard and I hit the “Save” button, though, did my Adwords control panel turn ominously red and I was informed that I had “violated Google’s editorial guidelines” by so bluntly asking for the very thing that every Adwords ad is hoping the reader will do. Consulting the equivalent of Google’s style guidelines, I learned that Google gives it blessing to euphemisms like “Visit Us Now,” or “Buy One Today,” all phrases which more indirectly attempt to elicit the same response I was bold enough to ask for directly.

Where did this whole phobia begin and why are we saddled with it? All this got me to thinking about other forms of direct response advertising. Imagine if the same little bit of editorial caprice that online advertisers are subject to were applied to direct mail or television ads. On a direct mail piece, for instance, maybe the call-to-action

Call Us Now at 1-800-777-1234!

might be perceived as, well, just too pushy. Instead, a less direct approach might be mandated, like

If You Like What We’re Selling, Think of Some Way to Contact Us. We’d Love to Hear From You!

I think you get the source of my frustration here. How ironic that a form of advertising known both in industry parlance as “Pay Per Click” doesn’t let us use that signature noun in the copy we write…

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