A Microsoft AdCenter upgrade last week now provides search marketers with the ability to A/B test multiple ads (Previously, you could run multiple ads in Adcenter, but the ads would not rotate evenly, making testing difficult. This even rotation functionality has been available in Google Adwords for years).

Prior to this Adcenter upgrade, if you were running multiple ads in an ad group, Adcenter would determine which ad to favor most of the time (i.e. – while running two ads, one ad would get 93% of the traffic, the other ad would get 7%), and Adcenter would favor the ad generating the highest volume of clicks (rather than conversions, which is typically the industry best practice.)

As a result of this Adcenter feature update, it’s worth reviewing some best practices in A/B ad text testing:

1. Use tightly themed ad groups, so that your ads can easily reflect the search query
2. Describe your offering clearly, using proper grammar and punctuation
3. A/B test based on conversions, or conversion rate (rather than clicks, or CTR)
4. Test different components of an ad at a time (Headline 1 vs. Headline 2; during this test, make the description lines identical)
5. A/B test different Value Propositions (e.g. – Description 1 in Google Adwords; or the first half of the description line in adcenter)
6. A/B Test different Calls-to-Actions at the end of the ad (Description 2 in Google; the second half of the Adcenter description line). Example: “F/S Ends Soon. Buy Now!”
7. A/B Test different Headlines (e.g. – Dynamic Keyword Insertion (DKI) vs. static ads). You may find that DKI drives a higher CTR, but that may not translate into a better conversion rate.
8. Consider running your tests for at least one week (or even two), because online traffic for many industries vary each day of the week). Therefore, you wouldn’t want to compare traffic from a Mon.-Wed. period against a Thurs-Fri period.
9. Set a benchmark period (i.e – one week with original ads), then launch revised ads to run the following 7 days (or 14 days).
10. In Adwords, punctuate the end of Description 1, if Description 2 is a new sentence. This is often overlooked, because some search marketers assume the description lines are two separate lines. But they aren’t if the ad appears in a premium position.

If you have any thoughts on this list, please share your ideas in Comments.


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