One of the great things about pay-per-click advertising over other forms of advertising is how quickly ads can be modified using measurement of results from split testing of ads. At campaign launch, split testing helps advertisers choose between different ad messages so they can utilize what works best. But a campaign needs continuous attention as the marketplace is constantly changing. Therefore ongoing split testing of ad copy could give you a distinct advantage.
Advertisers invest a lot of time into keyword research, landing page development, and budget forecasting just to have the ad copy snuff the fire. What went wrong? Why did the ads not appeal to and engage the market?
Advertisers need to remember that the copy that worked last month may not be what works best this month. Variations in ad copy could be as little as adding an exclamation point to one ad and using a period in another. That variation, regardless of scale, can make a big difference in setting you apart from your competitors. Ongoing split testing gives the best insight into what those changes should be.
Split testing can be done with little effort when using Google AdWords. An easy and almost completely passive way to split test across your campaigns is to place multiple ads into a single ad group and set the Ad Rotation Settings to “Rotate”. This way all ads are served more evenly rather than the “Optimize” setting which will serve your best performing ad more often. With different ads showing the same number of times, you get an even comparison between ads to see what ad variation is doing well, and then make adjustments.
Modifying ads, however, does come with a small penalty. When ad copy is changed, Google AdWords treats the edited ad as if it was brand new. This means that the ad has no performance history, which negatively affects the Quality Score and position of the ad. In most cases the ads’ Quality Score will bounce back because the adjustments will make the ad more engaging to your audience.
It is also good practice down the road to keep a control ad within each ad group to offset the negative affects of the dip in the Quality Score. This ad would usually be one that has performed well over time and, although not perfect, it will maintain that benchmark when you are optimizing other ad message points.
When it comes to measuring the results of your split testing and choosing the best possible copy, you will want to look at a couple different things. First, the Click Through Rate (CTR) will tell you which of the ads are grabbing the attention of your customers and enticing them into learning more. Secondly, the Conversion Rate will tell you if the ads are attracting qualified visitors.
Having the ideal set up doesn’t matter when ad copy is ineffective. There are disadvantages of changing ad copy too often. But the positives of having honed and proven copy can pay big dividends. The trick is to have ad copy that does a better job appealing to your audience, while changing the messages in as few edits as possible along the way.