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Ch-ch-ch-changes: Why We Continually Run Ad Tests

Published: June 16, 2014

Author: Katie Walton

I spend a lot of time training other people how to do PPC. The other day someone asked me, while I was in the midst of explaining how the ad testing process works, why we continually test new ads. “Surely” he said, “there’s a point at which you’ve written the best ad it’s possible to write? Wouldn’t you then just make your performance worse?”
Once I recovered from the shock, I have to admit, it was a good question for a newbie to ask. Here’s (an extended version of) what I told him.

Offers Change

Using special offers in your ads can be a big driver to get users to convert on your site. See the difference in performance we saw in one account when we tested a message about getting “Up to 60% Off High Street Prices”:
offers change
But special offers are a limited time deal, so inevitably your ads will have to change to reflect that a new offer is now available – or that no offer is currently running.

Prices Change

Maybe one of your tactics for getting conversions is to use prices in your ads – particularly if you know that your prices are competitive.
prices change
But at some point it’s inevitable that those prices are going to change. Maybe because of a special offer, or maybe it’s just inflation; whatever the reason, you’ll need to change your ad. And of course, there’s no guarantee that searchers will like the new price as much as they did the old.

Seasons Change

I know, I know I’m hitting you all over the head with the obvious stick, but it’s undeniable that the seasons have an impact on ad performance.
You don’t necessarily have to write specific ads to suit the season; you just may find that you need to get a little more creative during your quiet seasons. Either way, you’ll often find you need to test different ads at different times of year.

Times Change

Can you imagine running this ad now?

times change
Source: Wikipedia

No? Me neither. Time doesn’t stand still, so neither should your ads – not if you want people to keep clicking on them, anyway.

AdWords Changes

Google are always innovating – we don’t necessarily like every change they make, but there’s no denying that they do not stand still.
It’s not just major changes like the introduction of PLAs that might mean you need to adjust your copy. Even relatively small changes like extended headlines brought with them the need to finish the first line of an ad with proper punctuation.
If you don’t embrace the changes, your ads will be left behind.

Competitors Change

A key factor in all of this is that even if you’re resting on your laurels, there’s a good chance that your competitors aren’t. So you’ve written The Perfect Ad. Great, what’s to stop a competitor stealing your ideas and getting your conversions?
Even if they don’t filch your copy, you can bet they’re trying out all the other new innovations, seasonal variations, and special offers they can to beat you. You simply can’t afford to be smug.

People Change

A lot of what I’m saying above comes down to the simple fact that people change.
So maybe everyone did used to love your 60% off sale, but they’ll get tired of it. In a few years, your market will have changed – maybe you still target teens, but teens today are using all these new-fangled new terms and your ads don’t cut it anymore.
There are so many reasons why people might need or want something different from your ad copy, and if you don’t keep trying out new and fresh ideas, your conversions will go the way of the dodo.
So if anyone reading this doesn’t already have an ad testing process in place, get one and embrace change; it may be just what your account needs.

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