How to Test the Effectiveness of Your Online Ads

Testing ads is extremely important to web marketers. Google and MSN both offer a way to conduct an A/B test for your site. Different industries have very different keyword lists, and users themselves behave in very different ways when conducting searches and completing actions, such as sales or downloads.

The ads and keywords you would use for the wedding industry, for example, attract a certain kind of user who displays specific behavior on a website; you’d need to use different ads and keywords for the different type of user in the heavy-machinery industry. To determine which ad will generate the most successful actions for your industry, you need to conduct tests to find your most successful combinations.

The most basic test and best practice is A/B split testing, in which you create two slightly different ads and run them both at the same time, with the same destination URL, splitting the traffic between them.

A/B tests range from simple to complex. The best practice is to start simple and work your way up in terms of complexity. The more variables (differences) you have in your ads, the harder it will be to track down the most successful variable. If you run two different ads against each other, one will inevitably outperform the other, but you’ll have to do some guesswork about the determining variable.

How to set up an A/B test in Google AdWords

By default, Google AdWords is set to optimize, so it determines which of your ads is best and shows that ad most often. To do an A/B test, you need to set it to rotate.

To set up an A/B test in Google AdWords, follow these steps:

  1. Open the desired campaign, and click the Settings tab.

  2. Scroll down to Advanced Settings, click Ad Delivery, and then click Edit for Ad Rotation.

  3. Select the Rotate radio button and click Save.

How to set up an A/B test in MSN adCenter

MSN automatically rotates ads when an ad group contains multiple ads, eventually selecting the ad to show most frequently (based on impressions, clicks, and age of ads). You have no way to change this setting. Every time you change an ad, however, MSN resets the ads to rotate.

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