Defining test advertising and how it works
Test advertising refers to an initial period of digital advertising designed to test different ad variables. This what benefits your ads and what doesn’t. By analysing the results, you can draw conclusions in advance of your first official advertising campaign for optimum success.
You may have heard of A/B testing strategy, which is the most common term for test advertising. It is often known as landing page optimisation or split testing. Essentially it refers to the direct comparison of two test variables. The comparison of two adverts against one another.
Where can A/B testing be used?
The A/B testing model can be applied to any area of your business. For example your:
- Landing page
- Marketing campaigns
- Paid advertising
- Product checkouts
- Email marketing campaigns
- Mobile applications
You could test any aspect of this, from imagery to text placement to target demographics. By setting goals for each test phase, you can see what is working or if another way yields better results. Furthermore all data is collected from real visitors on your site, not a focus group. Therefore you are still gaining a Return on Investment and collating an audience whilst you test out different creative angles.
Let’s use an example
We are going to A/B test different paid ads for Facebook.
I have invented a sample company to advertise for, “Helping Hands Retirement Village” – don’t ask me why, I don’t know!
On this occasion I have chosen to test the imagery of the ads.
Ad A showcases a high quality photo of the living area of the property to encourage people to view the rest of the apartment. This also shows that it is casual, comfortable and well decorated.
Ad B includes an image of two elderly women enjoying themselves and laughing. The image is of high quality and evokes a sense of happy community, a strong value of retirement villages like this one, which endorse independence and furthermore support and community aspects too.
To start, the target audience is the same for both images. I would personally create a “lookalike” audience based on the company’s existing database, and target adults of around 45+. This should incorporate both elderly people looking to retire comfortably and furthermore the sons/daughters of the retiree. These image choices allow both to envisage the elderly person in the property/community themselves and emote happy associations with the company.
Both adverts adopt a button that says “Book Now” to clearly define the Call to Action (CTA) of the ads, ours being to book a property viewing. A Call to Action refers to the desired goal of your advert. Essentially the action you want the viewer to take when they click on the advertisement.
By comparing two adverts in this way, you can analyse your results, seeing which imagery works better for varying audiences and compare factors such as Conversion rate, Click-Through Rate and Cost per Click to conclude which styles work better.
Following this, the next week you can test something else! This is a valuable way to learn your audience and see what clicks (no pun intended).
What could I test?
When test advertising it is important to set goals and select specific metrics to judge by. The ads won’t be successful in every area and that’s why this side-by-side comparison is so useful.
We recommend that every time you produce a new test advertising campaign you create a new ad set. This ensures that your changes are easier to track and analyse. They can furthermore be compared at the end stage of your testing period.
Optimum ad sets can be made up from anywhere between 2 and 5 ads as long as your desired goals are clear. We would suggest a single test period to last from 4 days to a week long, allowing time to review, adjust and prepare for the following week.
You could test:
- Audience demographics;
- Copy style/content/length/placement;
- Buttons/Call to Action;
- Budget allocation;
- Lookalike audiences;
- Creative angles.
What do all these numbers mean?
It is equally important to analyse the data you collect, giving you a jumping off point for future advertising. If you simply test two ads and say “okay, scrap that one” you’re not delving into the specifics of your results.
Why might that ad have a higher Click-Through Rate? How could it more engaging? Could the Call to Action be clearer? Are the ads interacting with a different audiences? These are all variables you can test and change accordingly, giving you valuable outputs at every stage of the way!
For example, if you were to focus on lead generation, you would want to customise your columns to provide the most relevant results. This could include Clicks, Cost per Click, Click-Through Rate, Conversion Rate and Total Impressions. These provide you with a detailed insight into your users’ engagement with your ads.
- Clicks are the number of times a user has clicked on your advert.
- Click-Through Rate is an average created by your number of clicks and number of impressions.
- Cost per Click is important to gauge the effectiveness of your ads, concluding the average spend per click. The lower the CPC, the better!
- Conversion Rate is how often user clicks result in completed goals.
- Reach is the number of individual users exposed to your adverts.
- Impressions are the number times this content is displayed to relevant users.
Get to know your audience
You can use the Breakdown function to filter your results by Age, Gender, Location etc. to gauge a good understanding of how your audience is made up.
You can be as detailed as you like with audience targeting, filtering down particular interests, behaviours and demographics to curate an audience that behave in a similar way. Furthermore you could A/B test your audience itself, comparing the results of your custom audience and a lookalike audience.
A/B testing can be conducted using Facebook or Google AdWords. Google AdWords has a similar breakdown function to Facebook Ad Centre. Google AdWords is not only useful for Social Media Advertising but functions such as Paid Advertising, Search Marketing, Mobile Applications and more. Read more about using Google AdWords to uncover your audience here. If you want to learn more about A/B testing with Google, here is a useful tutorial to watch!
What are the key benefits of test advertising?
- You can learn what went well and where to make amendments.
- You’re gaining valuable information about your audience.
- Test or not, you’re still gaining real responses from real visitors to your site.
- It’s an opportunity to finalise and promote your brand image/tone.
- Your ROI will increase with your ads becoming more engaging and relevant to their desired audience.
- It saves you money on campaigns that don’t quite work.
- You can test for shorter periods, allowing you to get a snapshot of your weekly ad response and budget allocation.
Test advertising is brilliant if you are building an audience or preparing for product launch.
If you are looking for support with your test advertising campaigns, please feel free to get in touch with us.
You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us in the office on 01905 928485