A/B Testing for Online Advertising

Mariana Machado
May 22, 2020

Test, measure, improve.

People like different things and have their own taste, making it challenging to create a product that pleases everyone — this is valid for your online ads as well.

With so many different ad networks, formats and restrictions come different ways of creating ads and different decisions to make.

Thankfully, there are ways of making educated calculations about what will probably work better and there are definitely ways of knowing what won’t work. For example, low-resolution photos or too much text overlaying an image won’t get approved by most networks and, if they are, they won’t achieve good results.

So how do you choose what to use for your ads? The first step is knowing your audience. Once you know who you’ll be targeting, it’s time to come up with your message and decide what product you’ll advertise. After that, it’ll be easier to know what style of post you want to create — is it a photo? An abstract image? Or maybe a video? When you’ve decided on the format, it’s time to get your creative juices running.

#1 Brainstorm

Now that you know your audience and message, you can schedule a meeting with your team to discuss a few ideas and see what type of posts they think would work for that campaign.

Most of the time, people are on the same page and come up with similar ideas. This could mean that when thinking about a specific product, people already have a preconception of how they would like to see that advertised. An excellent example of this is children diapers’ ads, which if you think about it, all look pretty much the same.

However, if you see that there’s definitely some contradictory ideas or different paths you can choose from, then it’s time to put them to the test!

#2 Create different ads

When you’re just starting to promote your brand or advertising a new product, A/B testing can be quite useful. You should come up with different visuals or messages for your ads and create a few combinations to see which get better results.

Keep in mind that if you’re trying to understand which type of visual asset your audience prefers, you should use the same ad copy for all your ads and only change the image/video. This way, you’ll know exactly what’s affecting their decision and you will be able to reach better conclusions.

The same goes for ad copy. If you want to test different tones of voice or writing techniques, you should use the same image for all your ads and only switch the text. This avoids misconceptions and confusion on your side because if you create different ads with their own copy and image, you won’t know what’s driving your audience’s attention.

Photo by David Travis on Unsplash

#3 Measure Results

One of the most rewarding aspects of online advertising is understanding results. Luckily, all online advertising networks provide reports and metrics on how each of your ad performs, allowing you to better understand your audience.

After creating your different ads and running them for a while, you’ll be able to see which ones got better engagement rates, making it easier to create other campaigns in the future.

However, this doesn’t mean you should only test your ads once, or only when advertising something new. In fact, A/B testing can be instrumental throughout the entire advertising process, regardless of the company’s age or how many years you’ve been advertising.

Here are a few things to remember:

  • Experiment with different ad parameters such as visuals, ad copy and ad placement, but test only one parameter per campaign;
  • Always measure results and learn from past campaigns because what works in one situation may not work in another;
  • People have different tastes and there is no such thing as a perfect campaign, so don’t expect to please 100% of your users.

If you need help with A/B testing your online ads, let us know! We’d be happy to help.

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