8 Experiments to Restore Your Faith in PPC Ad Testing

test-tubes-iiLet’s face it. When it comes to PPC ad testing, only a few of us are actually testing as often as we should be.

One of the main “excuses” advertisers give is that they don’t gain enough lift from testing to justify the resources that went into running the experiments.

It’s time to lift your testing spirits and restore your faith by sharing some PPC ad copy experiments that yielded great results for their advertisers. Not only will you feel good about testing after seeing them, but you’ll also walk away with some best practices you can apply to your own ads.

Ready to feel good? Here we go.

189 Percent Increase in CTR


Main takeaways:

  • Breaking up one sentence on two lines negatively affects readability and flow.
  • Generic ad copy like “celebrate in style” is a waste of characters. It can be applied to any type of party and isn’t unique to a John Deere theme.
  • “Fun Tractor Birthday Party” creates a visual image of what the party would look like.
  • A customized URL creates more relevance and assures the searcher that they will land on a page that contains the information they clicked on.

197 Percent Increase in CTR


Main takeaways:

  • Appealing to the searcher’s psychology.
  • Understanding which stage of the buying cycle your searchers are in.
  • Putting yourself in their shoes. While the “1st time” makes a strong claim and backs it up by “20 years,” it appears that more searchers are looking to start working, than for validation.

259 Percent Increase in CTR


Main takeaways:

  • Understanding what the searcher is really looking for. Given the choice, would you go for “Beachfront Hotels” “Lodging Near the Beach?”
  • Keeping searching skills in mind. Everyone is capable of performing “One Fast & Easy Search,” but some searchers might not know what “Location Filters” are or be comfortable using them.
  • Creating a search frame that follows logical steps:
    1. Compare beachfront hotels
    2. Save time
    3. Save money
    4. Book a hotel

308 Percent Increase in CTR


Main takeaways:

  • Creativity and wordplay in using “You-nique” instead of personalized.
  • Putting “Only” before the price implies that you are getting a good deal.
  • Clarification of “style profile” and indicating that it’s a “quiz” that one must take.

355 Percent Increase in CTR


Main takeaways:

  • Quantifying the selection using the word “Dozens” implies both variety and choice.
  • Price inclusion gives searchers an idea of what to expect, especially if they are in a comparison stage or close to making a purchase.
  • Using the word “look” to add visual aspect to the search, as well as give the impression that someone is actually inviting you into their store to shop around.
  • URL customization to increase relevancy.

419 Percent increase in CTR


Main takeaways:

  • The word “Sale” gets more attention in the headline than body copy.
  • Replacing “wonderful” with “Stylish Wooden” is a much less generic and more accurate way of describing a cradle.
  • Using “In-Stock” and “Free Shipping” reinforce the availability and work well for searchers who are ready to make a purchase.
  • Changing “Baby” to “Cradles” in the URL is more specific to what the product is (unless the losing ad is selling babies!).

434 Percent Increase in CTR


Main takeaways:

  • Understanding the searcher’s psychology. Not overpaying is definitely more important than the ability to compare for free.
  • Changing “Rentals” to “Deals” in the URL to emphasize the savings.

509 Percent Increase in CTR


Main takeaways:

  • This is one of my absolute favorite tests because it shows that sometimes, only a few minor changes (removing “chic” from the headline and adding “shoe” before “style” can make a huge difference. This is the type of thing that you would only know if you tested.

A Few Things to Keep in Mind

Choosing a Metric to Test For

All these ads show significant improvements in CTR, but that’s not by any means the only thing you should test for. It’s a great indication of ad interaction and one of the main components of quality score, but you absolutely need to take into account conversions, landing pages, etc. Another interesting metric to test for is Conversions-per-Impression.

Test Results and Confidence Levels

The test result featured here did not all achieve great results instantly. They have gone through an average of three rounds of testing before a winner was declared at a 90 percent confidence level.


Even though I’ve left out the advertisers names from the URLs to protect their privacy, please trust that they are very large volume enterprise-type advertisers, so the results are quite significant.

With positive vibes and a boatload of testing and optimization tips and tricks, nothing should stop you from starting a test today.

And if you hit a 500 percent increase in CTR by SES next month, I’ll take you fishing in San Francisco. My treat!

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