Ad Testing In 2016

This week Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro) hosts PPCChat with another great question set titled “Ad Testing In 2016.” The following is the transcribed Streamcap from the live chat:

Q1: How has your ad testing changed with expanded text ads? What are some of the items you test?

  • Headlines 1st… CTAs, Keyword Anchors, Benefits. Description 2nd. – James Svoboda (@Realicity)
  • I put less emphasis on the description line. My main testing is with the double headlines. – Matt Umbro
  • The rollout is slow here. Campaigns & ad groups w/ most conversions & traffic get ext. ads and we’re testing against old ads. (2) Labeling proves to be super duper vital to keep expanded ads well monitored at a glance. – Mary Hartman (@PPCHartman)
    • Same, just starting to test ETA against regular ads in general. Focusing on rollout to higher volume ad groups. – Timothy Jensen (@timothyjjensen)
  • Not enough data yet, and extended ads aren’t appearing for all terms so data may be misleading. – Liam Waites (@LiamWaites)
  • I also like the longer Display URLs as I think it looks better and can show more specific information. – Matt Umbro
    • I like them longer, but hate the 15+15 format. Why not just 3-0 characters? – James Svoboda
      • Good question…perhaps that will change based upon advertiser feedback. – Matt Umbro
  • I’ve always tested expanded headlines against combining D1 & D2 into a sentence. – Erika Schmidt (@erikapdx)
  • 2 current tests: ETAs vs. standard text ad. Also testing diff 2nd headlines. Future test: different Path orders for Display URL. – Emma Franks (@akaEmmaLouise)

Q2: How are you handling writing standard and expanded text ads during this transition time?

  • Primarily writing new ads as ETAs where possible. – Kyle Crocker (@kacrocker)
  • Most of our efforts are focused on eta creation, since we’re hoping to determine best practices asap before the full rollout! – Erin Sagin (@erinsagin)
  • We don’t have ETAs either, but from now on, when writing new ads, they’re all the new format. Time is money. – Katie Mullins (@katiemuffins)
  • Only writing ETAs during beta as most/all account got whitelisted at same time. – James Svoboda
  • It’s weird having so much room to play. I can actually use conjunctions in my ads! – Mary Hartman
  • Primarily writing ETAs for new ad groups, however, also keeping one standard text ad just in case. – Matt Umbro
  • Account was whitelisted early then rollout delayed, allowed us slightly more time to create new copy. – Azeem Ahmad (@AzeemPPC)
  • One test I’m running is putting a pre-qualifyer in the 2nd headline for a BTB client who’s been getting non-ideal leads. Exciting! – Mary Hartman
  • I’m waiting on a launch date before making major prep plans. In the meantime, I should rework our ad copy approval sheet. – Erika Schmidt
  • Mainly taking the current best performing ads and expanding upon them with more information and calls to action. – Liam Waites
  • Concatenating standard ads as desc line (lengthening where possible), adding different 2nd headline with additional value prop. – Emma Franks
  • Interestingly, we have seen CPC’s rise in some verticals here – has anyone else seen the same with ETAs? – Azeem Ahmad
  • Legal review dictates a lot for my clients. Focusing mostly on ETA’s right now. But still writing standard ads too. – Tommy Sands (@PPCBossman)
  • Ad customizers are also more fun with expanded text ads! You get 2 headlines to write highly customized, dynamic copy. – Matt Umbro

Q3:What are your early results of expanded text ads?

  • By and large, CTR is higher by a fair amount (as I had expected). Conversion rate is the same or better in most situations. – Matt Umbro
  • So far I’m seeing a higher CTR, but everything seems heavily skewed. – Davis Baker (@davisbaker)
  • 90% of my ad groups running ETAs have seen either better results or numbers on par with standard text ads. – Matt Umbro
  • Not a huge improvement on traditional ads so far, but focused testing in high volume campaigns which already performed strongly. – Liam Waites
  • Haven’t delved into the data yet to fully examine performance across the diff ad types. First glance conv. rates seem better. – Emma Franks
  • I’m also seeing that my mobile preferred ads have higher engagement than the ETA’s serving mobile users. – Davis Baker
  • CTR is a lot higher on desktop, mobile and tablet ads! Conversion rate has shown to be lower for me. Note: I am e-commerce. – Ron Mahoney (@ronzmahoney)
  • Extremely limited test: Conversion rate has jumped considerably. CTR has popped up but engagement on site down, interestingly. – Mary Hartman
  • Expanded + ad customizer – significant CTR increase, conv. rate steady. – Kevin Cronin (@cropiece10)
  • Consistently better. Consistently out performs standard text ads. Not all though, but beating most. – James Svoboda
  • Overall CTR, CPC & Conv % up. Mobile is showing positive trends all around. – Tommy Sands

Q4: Fundamentally, has ad copy writing changed with the advent of expanded text ads? Why or why not?

  • No, not fundamentally different. Some adjusted parameters, but same core skill. – Kyle Crocker
  • Yes. XTAs have brought old school marketing copy back to ads. – James Svoboda
  • No, still marketing. Focus on benefits over just facts. Engage with interesting callouts & keywords you’re bidding on. Use CTA. – Kirk Williams (@PPCKirk)
  • Emphatically not. While there’s more room to write, key elements have to be there regardless of display. Position still trumps. – Doug Thomas (@ferkungamaboobo)
  • Still about getting the right offer/message in front of right person at right time, a.k.a. old school marketing! – Julie Bacchini (@NeptuneMoon)
  • YES. I now spend more time trying to lengthen ad text rather than shortening it to fit the 25/35/35 format. – Emma Franks
  • Fundamentally no. The same ideas & testing still apply, just with more room to be creative. – Liam Waites
  • Definitely – With this much room, we can do way more value adding (and like, complete sentences). – Sean Murphy (@PPC_Sean)
  • I say yes. Filling the Description most challenging aspect. What do you write? Do you think people read past the headlines? – Ron Mahoney
  • Fewer weird abbreviations. – Julie Bacchini
  • Nope. I have been coming up with 30 character headlines for years. 🙂 Same process more just more room to execute now. – Tommy Sands
    • You make a great point – the double headlines aren’t anything new for advertisers who smartly used extended headlines. – Matt Umbro
  • The double headlines – I need to embrace the dashes – they don’t flow together as I may have expected them to. – Mary Hartman
  • Now I don’t get frustrated when my “perfect” headline is 26 characters long. – Davis Baker
  • IMO the recent changes to extensions have caused the biggest shift in in headline and body text, but ETA will be a factor too. – Andrew McCarthy (@AmccartPPC)
  • Not really. Main change is shift in focus from description line 1 (jump to headline) to headline 2. Need to be creative remains. – Kevin Cronin
  • The main takeaway for me with ETAs has been the double headlines, everything else is secondary. – Matt Umbro

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More PPCChats

Don’t forget to stay tuned for the next #PPCchat on Tuesday at 12 noon Eastern, 9 am Pacific and 5pm in the UK. Same Chat time, same Chat channel.


Check out the PPCChat Twitter list to see and connect with all current and prior participants.

• Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro)
• James Svoboda (@Realicity)
• Paul Kragthorpe (@PaulKragthorpe)
• Andrew McCarthy (@AmccartPPC)
• Azeem Ahmad (@AzeemPPC)
• Davis Baker (@davisbaker)
• Doug Thomas (@ferkungamaboobo)
• Emma Franks (@akaEmmaLouise)
• Erika Schmidt (@erikapdx)
• Erin Sagin (@erinsagin)
• Julie Bacchini (@NeptuneMoon)
• Katie Mullins (@katiemuffins)
• Kevin Cronin (@cropiece10)
• Kirk Williams (@PPCKirk)
• Kyle Crocker (@kacrocker)
• Liam Waites (@LiamWaites)
• Mary Hartman (@PPCHartman)
• Ron Mahoney (@ronzmahoney)
• Sean Murphy (@PPC_Sean)
• Timothy Jensen (@timothyjjensen)
• Tommy Sands (@PPCBossman)

Streamcapping in 2016

This is a guest post by Paul Kragthorpe; works at WebRanking in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Connect with Paul @PaulKragthorpe, and Google Plus.

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