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Display Advertising Testing

Testing for display advertising campaigns encompasses four general areas, none of which can be overlooked. A proficient display advertising agency has a documented testing methodology for each.

1. Site Testing

Site testing involves displaying ads on various websites through managed placements, to determine which websites deliver the most conversions. Ad networks are very large, and indiscriminately running ads on all publisher websites cannot produce improvement in conversion rates. By improving focus on high-performing websites, substantial conversion rate improvement usually occurs over time.

2. Keyword Testing

Keyword testing involves testing different groups of keywords to see which have the best ad performance. An ad group in a contextual display campaign is comprised of closely related keywords. Some keyword groups trigger ads to be displayed more often on some publisher websites than others; knowing which groups are generating the highest number of conversions is critical.

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3. Ad Testing

The goal of ad split testing is to increase the clickthrough rate (CTR). Sometimes small changes in ad design or text produce very large changes in CTR, so advertisers must test methodically, making sure not to overlook any variable. Typical variables to test include the offer, ad imagery, credibility statement, color, font size, font style, branding message and including/excluding pricing.

4. Landing Page Testing

The goal of landing page split testing is to increase the conversion rate (CVR). As with display ads, small changes can produce substantial improvements. But unlike display ads, landing pages have even more variables that can — and should — be tested methodically over time. In addition to the variables mentioned above, landing page variables to test include long versus short copy, call-to-action button design and text, headlines and subheads, writing style (formal versus conversational) and secondary offers.

When vetting display advertising agencies, be sure to review their testing methodologies and results. A capable agency has a well-designed, documented process for display advertising tests, if for no other reason than to prevent multiple tests from taking place at the same time. With four testing areas, preventing overlap is a significant issue; if multiple tests are underway at a given time, determining which change produced the result is difficult. Agencies with expert testing processes are the ones able to transform good campaigns into great campaigns.

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