How to Incorporate Split Testing into Your Digital Advertising Strategy


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You’ve heard of the value of testing. You can even incorporate testing every now and then into your digital advertising campaigns. But is it part of your “doing business” routine as a digital marketer?

If you’ve just got on the testing train or want to make it a regular thing but don’t know where to start, we’ve got it. There are so many features, products, and opportunities that it can sometimes be difficult to understand how to test and the impact it can have on your ad account performance.

In this article, we hope to shed light on the darkness of A / B (“split”) testing of advertising campaigns and provide a simple and effective split-testing framework.

When to test

To have the most impact, you need to incorporate testing into every step of your ad campaign. Make sure to always test at the project level. While it may seem like all of that A / B testing can eat up your time and money, it doesn’t necessarily have to be. When it comes to split testing, some platforms make the process easier and let you see results quickly without eating up your entire campaign budget.

To make things even easier for you and your team, plan to complete your testing campaign in three phases:

  • Targeting and delivery
  • Creative
  • Messaging

Let’s take a look at these phases and the most common A / B test cases for each one.

Targeting and delivery

Objective test (traffic versus conversions)

With targeting and serving, a common use case is measuring traffic versus conversions. It is a good test to perform if:

  • Your main goal is to find a balance between volume and cost
  • Sometimes you have trouble increasing your conversion volume
  • You are optimizing link clicks and not sure whether to move on to conversions as this can negatively impact your KPIs

Test the configuration

To set up this type of test, create two campaigns: one with a ‘traffic’ objective and the other with a ‘conversion’ objective. Make sure you have the same creative, number of ads, and targeting.

Perform split testing, making sure you allocate enough budget for each ad to generate at least one conversion per day. Run the campaign for a set period of time (for example, one to two weeks) or until you can clearly see which campaign is working the best.

Optimization window

What if your campaigns are driving conversions, but you want to make sure you’re optimizing for the best ones? You can test the optimization window, typically one day instead of seven days.

The conversion window allows you to tell Facebook’s algorithms what data to take into account when deciding who to show your ad to.

Test the configuration

Create two campaigns or one campaign with two sets of ads. Make sure that all of the segments that are part of the optimization window are the same and, like testing traffic against conversions, that you allocate enough budget so that each ad generates at least one conversion per day. Run the campaign for a set period of time (for example, one to two weeks) or until you can clearly see which campaign is working the best.

Ad formats (static or video)

Does this sound familiar to you? You’ve always used static images for your conversion campaigns, reserving video for brand awareness. But, you recently noticed that static images limit your scale, so you are looking to identify a new best practice. This is the video!

With ad formats, you can A / B test single formats or a combination.

Test the configuration

  • Single format: Create a campaign, comprising different formats in different ad sets, making all other segments the same. Run the split test at the ad set level.
  • A combination of formats: Create a campaign that includes a combination of formats for different sets of ads, for example:
Set of advertisements Link type
1 Static link announcement
2 Video link announcement
3 Static link ad and video link ad

Target audience (interest versus lookalike)

While you should always target combinations of audiences, you can perform A / B testing to identify some of the best practices. For example, if you’re looking to identify another set of audiences that will add value to your campaigns, or reduce audience overlap without including a long list of exclusions, testing can help.

Test the configuration

Depending on your reporting preferences, you can configure your test at the campaign or ad set level. Create a campaign with multiple sets of ads targeting:

Set of advertisements Public
1 Interests
2 1% lookalike of your most valuable users
3 Campaign likeness (pixel)
4 1% custom website lookalike audience

Make sure your audience size is enough to deliver. All other segments must be the same.

Creative

For many advertisers, creating can be difficult, especially if you don’t have an in-house creative team. Still, there are a few things you can experiment with to improve results, without needing a ton of resources.

  • Video length: A / B test different lengths of video, for example, five seconds versus 10 seconds or more, to determine which gives the best results.
  • Opening frame: Experiment with different opening video frames. Your ad should grab attention as quickly as possible, so identify which opening frame is doing the job.
  • Aspect ratio: Test different ratios, for example, landscape video versus vertical video.

Messaging

Different posts can generate different results, and figuring out which post is most appealing to your audience can be a quick payoff. Try to test:

  • Topic : Experiment with different stories to communicate your value proposition.
  • Character limit: Try to test the length of the text, that is, ad text that is shorter than it is longer.
  • Emoji: Depending on the product you’re advertising, it might be interesting to include an emoji in your test ad copy and see how it performs against an ad that doesn’t use it.

Wash, rinse, repeat

By making testing a fundamental part of your digital campaign lifecycle, you’ll be able to continuously identify best practices, adapt to publisher changes, and scale your account.