This week, we’re celebrating the release of Text Ad Zoom with a 5 part Q&A series featuring the authors who wrote the articles highlighted in The Ultimate List of PPC Ad Testing Resources. Each day this week, we’ll have a different question and the answers.
Previous, we asked:
- What are the biggest text ad testing mistakes?
- How do pick which ads to test first?
- What factors have the greatest influence on testing?
Read below for today’s question and answers (in no particular order).
Text Ad Optimization Q&A #4: How Important is Text Ad Testing in Overall Campaign Optimization?
Brad Geddes: Essential. When you think of the reoccurring tasks that you must undertake in a paid search account, such as bidding, adding negative keywords, etc – ad copy testing should be among the top tasks that are done at least monthly (the amount of testing you can do depends on how much data your account collects). When you change bids, you attain a short term gain in your account, but you will have to change bids again in the near future, so the gains are only temporary. When you do ad copy testing, the gains are long term.
Andrew Goodman: It’s probably the most important and most challenging area, one that often takes a back seat in campaign managers’ arsenals to the things users cannot see, like keywords and ad group structure.
Jessica Niver: It’s as important as bid changing and a lot of the other things we tend to do more often. I think it’s ignored more often than it should be, but I also think that for some ad groups you’ll find bigger impacts than in others. For example (this is just my experience…) I’ve seen bigger conversion rate changes from testing in individual product ad groups than in my branded ad groups, possibly because the branded traffic was already very likely to click and then convert as long as they saw the proper brand name and needed less persuasion via ad text. And of course, I’ve seen bigger inconsistency in the value of ad text testing in ad groups with a lot of broad matched, poorly-organized keywords. Those ad groups just need to be cleaned up because you can’t control the relevance of searches very closely from one time period to the next, so ads that were relevant to the queries from “test period A” aren’t necessarily as relevant to queries in the next “test period”.
Long-term, ad text testing loses value unless you work to put value into it. It’s more important to be creative than people want to be because being creative is slow. Sometimes when you’ve been writing ads for a product or service for quite a while it’s easy to write boring ads without many distinguishing factors to test against one another. You have to set aside time to research your competition, research your client’s audience, and maybe get some insight from outside sources (client, coworkers?) to make distinctions that are really worth testing.
Chad Summerhill: Very important. PPCers should be spending anywhere from 20%-50% of their time optimizing their ad copy.
Amy Hoffman: Ad testing is very important. It’s like fishing: your ad is your baited hook; your chance to grab a customer. If you aren’t getting any bites, you’re probably fishing in the wrong water. e.g. You probably need to look long and hard at the keywords you’re targeting. If they seem correct then check out your bait: is your ad text accurately representing your business? If you get a few bites but they all get away, then you should take a look at your reeling techniques. e.g. There may be a disconnect between what you are selling and what you are promoting or you may have a faulty landing page. At any rate, ad testing can give a lot of information regarding your account’s health and performance. (Yes, yes I did just work a fishing analogy into this email. )
Erin Sellnow: I personally think ad testing and landing page optimization are the two biggest bets for success. While all of the other optimizations are important, you will never see big gains unless you test new ads and landing pages.
Pete Hall: Just as important as anything else, and really, that’s the great thing about PPC. There are so many moving parts that can affect KPI’s, and certainly text ad testing playing a huge role in that. The way I see it, if you aren’t testing new ads frequently, you’re doing your accounts a disservice. Especially after you properly set up any new campaigns, text ad testing is a critical long-term optimization tactic.
Brad Libby: Brad Geddes had a great blog post a couple of years ago where he laid out the basic search process, like:
Impressions –> (CTR) –> Clicks –> (CR) –> Conversions –> Revenue –> Profit
So, Clicks = Impressions x CTR and Revenue = Conversions x Revenue_per_Conversion
I’ve attached a spreadsheet screenshot showing what I mean:
He then looked at what, say a 10% increase in Impressions would do to profit compared to a 10% decrease in CPC, and so forth, to show whether you should worry more about increasing Impressions or cutting CPC (this sort of leaves out considering which of those two things is easier to achieve).
The overall lesson I took away was that searches basically a linear process – every step is necessary for searchers to move from the query to the page visit to the purchase. I love bashing Craig Danuloff when he says things like “bidding is maybe 10% or 20% of PPC”. No – if all of your bids are set optimally, then bidding is 0% of your problem. If they are all set horribly, then it’s basically 100% of your problem.
So, if you’re using only 1 ad format for all of your ad groups (“Looking for [query]? We’ve got [query] at low, low prices!”), then ad testing is very important for you. If you’re doing it well, it should not be a big issue.
Ryan Healy: I believe it’s becoming more important than it’s ever been. This is because Google has been placing more and more emphasis on CTR.
In fact, AdWords experts have recently noticed that Quality Score is becoming less important while CTR is becoming more important.
To increase CTR, you must have a seamless market to message match. The “market” is made up of the searchers who type in the keywords you’re bidding on; the “message” is the ad.
Testing ad text has always been important, but it’s probably more important now than it’s ever been.
Jeff Sexton: Incredibly important. Ad Text plays a major role in determine CTR (and therefore Quality Score) and Conversion Rate. I think that says it all, doesn’t it?
And as far as testing is concerned, the adage taken from direct response copywriting and Website Optimization still carries: “testing rules and opinion drools.” I think anyone who will tell you that they can, with any real consistent accuracy, predict which ad text will win is kidding themselves – not to mention showing their ignorance.
In short, you’ve got to test and test rigorously in order to really know which ads perform best. If you’re not doing that, you’re leaving money on the table – a lot of money.
Tom Demers: I’m a bit biased, but I think it’s both crucial and under-utilized. Your ad copy is your first actual connection with your prospect, and is responsible for:
- Bringing in the right visitors
- Qualifying out the wrong type of traffic
- Tying together your targeting (keywords, demographics, etc.) and your offer (landing page).
Your ads are attempting to make a sufficiently enticing promise (more enticing than your competitors, and enticing enough to click on) to a searcher or visitor, but still have to make that promise something that the landing page can deliver on. This is a big job and there’s a lot of nuance and finesse in getting it right, and consistently iterating and refining this messaging can mean really big gains in traffic, leads, and ultimately sales.
Crosby Grant: Text Ad testing falls somewhere after bidding and account structure & keywords, somewhere near negatives. Of course, every account is different, but in a new account for example, you want to get your structure and keywords right, and your bidding up and running, prior to taking on the optimization tasks that will get you further along.
Rob Boyd: I think that text ad testing is extremely important. If we get to the root of a text ad campaign and throw out all the bells and whistles available in todays PPC world (advanced targeting, ad extensions, etc), your options for optimization are ad testing, keyword expansion, campaign structure, and bids. At some point you are going to run into diminishing returns on keyword expansion and campaign structure. Eventually, your quality scores should be great and your structure should be an image of best practices. Ad testing, like bid optimization, can always have an impact on an account and should always be a high priority in overall optimization.
Greg Meyers: I believe that preliminary Text Ad Testing should be done at the launch of a new campaign/ad group as part of the holistic PPC best practice. This test would consist of 2-3 completely different Ads. Once we start seeing performance metrics, then we do the traditional bid management, keyword expansions and then identify which Text Ads perform the best and then start the “In-depth” Testing Process. So Testing is important, but later in the game.
Bonnie Schwartz: Ad testing is very important, especially considering the importance of QS on your overall metrics and the impact that CTR may have. Oftentimes, I find it hard to achieve stat significance on my conversion rate. In these instances, I choose the ad with the winning CTR because this may have an impact beyond just the number of clicks, as it may also lead to lower CPC’s overall for your account as CTR is a major factor in QS.
John Lee: Ad testing ranks at the top – right up there with landing page optimization. Too many advertisers put too much focus on keywords and bids. The truth is that ad testing and landing page optimization are the elements that will have the biggest impact on improving conversion rate.
Jon Rognerud: Viewing a campaign from “front” (google) to “back” (page/conversion) – the ad is the first touchpoint. It’s very important to get the attention of the user, i.e. ‘the click’. An awords campaign with a poor, low engaging ad will not serve you well.
Joe Kerschbaum: Mission critical. You will eventually hit a ceiling in regards to your keyword list (or at least your head terms). However, you can always be testing your text ads in order to get better performance from your keywords. Your ads can be timely and timeless, so your tests are almost limitless.
Learn More About The Authors
- Brad Geddes – Certified Knowledge
- Andrew Goodman – PageZero
- Jessica Niver – Hanapin Marketing
- Chad Summerhill – PPC Prospector
- Amy Hoffman – Hanapin Marketing
- Erin Sellnow – Hanapin Marketing
- Pete Hall – Room 214, a social media agency
- Ryan Healy – BoostCTR / RyanHealy.com
- Jeff Sexton – BoostCTR / JeffSextonWrites.com
- Tom Demers – BoostCTR / MeasuredSEM
- Bradd Libby – The Search Agents
- Crosby Grant – Stone Temple Consulting
- Rob Boyd – Hanapin Marketing
- Greg Meyers – SEMGeek / iGesso
- Bonnie Schwartz – SEER Interactive
- John Lee – Clix Marketing
- Jon Rognerud – JonRognerud.com
- Joe Kerschbaum – Clix Marketing