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How to Create a Mobile Ad Test

Published: May 5, 2016

Author: Anthony Jordick

Smartphones and tablets have recently surpassed desktop computers in terms of total search volume for the first time in history. Optimizing the mobile ad experience for consumers can no longer be an afterthought. Creating your own mobile ad test does not need to be painful or expensive, and it’s an important part of optimizing your mobile search campaigns.
Recently, we set up a simple test to see if changing the call-to-action (CTA) to include “From Your Phone” would increase the ad’s conversion rate (CVR). Let’s walk through the steps of the test.

Test Setup

  1. In the AdWords UI, filter your ads by Device Preference to only show Mobile Preferred.


  1. Check the box to select all of the mobile-preferred ads, and click the Label dropdown. Select the “Create New” option. These ads will be named “Control MM/DD/YY.” If you have run previous ad tests, you can add “CTA” Or “Mobile” to the label for clarity.
  2. image003
  1. Download this ad report from AdWords.
  2. In Excel, delete all of the columns that contain performance data. For the ad upload in AdWords Editor (AWE), you will need the following columns:
    • Campaign
    • Ad Group
    • Headline
    • Description Line 1
    • Description Line 2
    • Display URL
    • Final URL
    • Device Preference
    • Labels

For the purpose of this mobile ad test, you will only be changing your CTA and the label. The rest of the Excel spreadsheet will remain unchanged. Essentially, you are creating a duplicate set of mobile ads, with only a change in the CTA.

  1. Change your CTA to include the phrase “From Your Phone.” You will still need to work within the constraints of character limits, and it is important to follow AdWords best practices, which includes stand-alone description lines. If your CTA is in Description Line 1, be sure to only make changes to that Description Line.
  1. Next you will need to include a label for your test ads. In the label column, you will write “Test MM/DD/YY.”
  1. In AWE, you will perform a bulk upload of these ads. Navigate to the Text Ads section of AWE, in the bottom left corner of your screen (as shown below). Select “Make Multiple Changes,” which will bring you to your bulk upload screen.


  1. As your upload contains both campaign name and ad group name, you will check the box shown below:


  1. Copy your entire Excel spreadsheet, including the column headers into the bulk upload, and process the upload. Be sure that the column headers match up to your data. If the upload was successful, post the changes to AdWords. Once uploaded, your ads will look like this:


  1. You should now see your mobile test ads in the UI, along with their proper label.
  1. Important: Be sure to change your campaign settings to Rotate Indefinitely (options shown below). This will allow for both control and test ads to be shown equally, gathering even impression volume. Failure to do so will skew the results further towards the better ad.



Your client will most likely want to discuss the results of your test after you have accumulated enough data to satisfy a statistical significance threshold. Pulling the report is very simple.

  1. Filter ads to show only Mobile preferred ads.
  2. Download the report for the timeframe in which the control and test ads were both running (be sure to include a column for labels).
  3. In Excel, you will pivot the data using the Control/Test Label as the Row Label. You will want to include columns for impressions, clicks, cost and conversions. (NOTE: If the impressions for your Test and Control ads are not close to identical, it means you did not select the “Rotate Indefinitely” option in your campaign settings.)
  4. You can use this data to compare CTR, CVR and CPA, all of which will be valuable to you and your clients in optimizing the mobile ad experience.

And those are all of the steps to perform your own mobile ad test! It is relatively easy to set up, and if it is performed in a high volume campaign, you will achieve results very quickly. Good luck!

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