The Importance of Testing Your Ad Campaigns (And What to Test!)

Anthonys Adtesting Post
Anthony Lower
January 4, 2017

This is the digital marketing universal truth: You should always be testing—especially in your ad campaigns. In a time when users are estimated to perform over 1,000 searches per year, it’s easy for your business to get lost in the shuffle if you’re not using the most creative or relevant ad formats.

Plus, you can be sure that your competitors are testing their ads. If you’re not testing your ads now, there’s no time like the present.



Ad testing 101: CTAs & value propositions

First, let’s go over a couple of simple tests that every ad campaign should be running. The most basic place to start is to review the calls-to-action (CTAs) and value propositions you are using.

For testing CTAs, it’s as simple as testing “shop now” vs. “buy now.”

Testing value props is a bit more involved. You need to think about why users like your business or service.

Here’s a quick offline example of how McDonald’s uses its value propositions in advertising. One of the company’s value props is focused on price to appeal to consumers on the hunt for a cheap meal. That’s why so many of their ads mention value meals and the dollar menu. Another value prop focuses on volume by featuring “over 99 billion served.” That staggering statistic helps convince consumers to buy; after all, how can that many customers be wrong?

Hopefully you have an idea of what makes your business stand out. If not, take some time to flesh out your own value propositions. Whether it’s free shipping or hundreds of five-star reviews, be sure to include these value props in your ads. (And then test them against each other!)

Once you have a solid plan for testing your text ads, don’t forget to test customized features. Learn more about Google’s automated customization. Some of our favorite features include event countdowns, pricing, and user location.


Ad formatting options

Ad formatting can and should be used to enhance your ongoing tests—and help your ads stand out even more within a competitive landscape. Here’s a few for your business to try.


Expanded text ads

The move from traditional text ads to expanded text ads has provided much more flexibility in ad copy. With its two 30-character headlines and an 80-character description, ETAs provide more characters than their standard text ad counterparts (with a 25-character headline and two 35-character description lines).

Of course, this isn’t so much a formatting option as it is a requirement. Google has announced that it will stop allowing standard text ads to be created and edited after January 31, 2017. Start taking advantage of the current testing period now. It’ll pay off.

We started testing ETAs against standard ads months ago when they were still in beta. Typically, we found that expanded text ads improved performance in click-through-rate and conversion rate.


Responsive display ads

While the Google Display network has supported image ads—as well as text ads—for a long time, Google recently released a new format called responsive ads.

With responsive ads, you can upload two different sized images and three different text fields of varying lengths. Google will then piece together the images and texts in different combinations depending on where the ad is displayed.

Our early tests have shown significant increases in click-through-rate for responsive display ads when compared to traditional ad formats.

Not only do these responsive ads have immense possibilities for testing within all the different variables, but they also allow for testing across formats.

It’s important to note that it’s not unusual to find that ROI or CPA will vary significantly across static image ads, text ads for display, and responsive ads. Keep testing and testing until you find the best creative in the best format that your customers respond to the most.


Facebook & Instagram’s new ad formats

These social media advertising platforms offer incredible opportunities for creativity.

You may think of a traditional Facebook or Instagram ad as one static image and two sections of text in the body and the headline. Of course, this format can be very effective—but it’s worth testing out the other options available to you.

Your business could find success with lead generation ads. These are great if you are looking to collect customer data that you can then use to re-engage them later in the funnel. Lead generation ads have a small amount of text; when clicked, they open a form that auto-populates user information from the social media account. This provides the user with a quick and seamless experience without ever leaving Facebook or Instagram.

Have you heard of carousel ads? This ad format allows you to choose up to five images that will display on a user’s device. Carousel ads are traditionally recommended for retail campaigns since they allow you to use multiple images, headlines, and landing pages for specific products.

While the benefits for retail are well-known, that doesn’t mean they won’t be beneficial for other businesses. They’re worth testing if you think your ideal customer would be interested in several of your services.


Test, test, and test again

Ad platforms like Google, Bing, and Facebook are constantly updating their available ad formats to better meet the needs of users and advertisers. Why wouldn’t you constantly test these new formats? After all, a new feature just might bring your business great success.

Anthony Lower
Director, Search & Social Advertising

Anthony Lower is an Indiana University alum who really wishes Chewbacca was in his posse. If he were stranded on a desert island, Anthony would hope he had his golf clubs, bicycle, and a radio – why not turn his time there into a vacation?

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