Ad Copy Tests For PPC Advertisers

By Tinuiti Team

Ad Copy: Avoiding Testing Complacency

Pay Per Click (PPC) ad copy testing is a critical part of any thriving campaign. Retailers should leverage product-level performance data to drive their strategy and construct highly efficient, constantly evolving campaign architectures that create a balance between maximizing order volume and profitability.

Ultimately, PPC ad copy testing helps retailers raise their Quality Score – which can lead to better ad relevancy, improved click through rate (CTR) and more conversions.

If retailers already know this, why do they hesitate to continue testing ad copy after their initial campaign set up?

“A lot of retailers look at Return On Advertising Spend (ROAS), so they tend to focus on factors such as bid adjustments that are going to move the needle more aggressively rather than ad copy testing,” Kelly O’Connell, PPC Architect at CPC Strategy said. kelly-o'connell

“If a retailer’s ad copy is doing fine, then their first thought is to adjust the bid on the keyword rather than the ad itself. Ad copy can fall to the back burner or be overlooked.”

In addition to bidding strategy, relevant keywords and campaign settings such as dayparting and geotargeting, retailers should also be testing ad copy across all major search engines.

What should retailers test on their ad copy?

Retailers can run tests on several elements within the ad copy campaign structure including:

Within ad copy, retailers can also test:


According to O’Connell, retailers should experiment with trends in:


“There’s a lot of trends going on in ad copy, so it’s important to keep up to maintain your positioning as a thought-leader in the space. For example, a trend could be an all lowercase ad. You should be keeping up with what your competitors are doing.”

Call to Action

A call-to-action can come in many shapes and forms such as a graphic, a button, an image, or just plain text.

Typically, when crafting a call-to-action, there are 4 main factors retailers should pay attention to including:


It’s hard to know which call to action is going to resonate with your target market  – which is just one more reason why testing is so imperative. Testing will enable retailers to determine which wording, color and other variables are most effective for their call-to-action and can significantly improve shopping cart abandonment rates.


Value Propositions

A value proposition is a great way for retailers to set themselves apart from their competitors. By creating effective value propositions, customers are likely to be take notice of your product – increasing conversions and driving more revenue.

We’ve compiled a list of 50 Value Propositions for online retailers that can help them effectively compete in today’s competitive market without necessarily having to lower the price of their product or service including:


In the below example, the retailer is testing a value proposition for (1) free “same day” shipping vs. (2) free shipping “over $199” with an additional call to action (shop now):


Dynamic Keyword Insertion (DKI)

Adwords offers an advanced testing feature called Dynamic Keyword Insertion. DKI updates ad text to include one of your keywords that matches a customer’s search terms. This feature allows retailers to have one ad that appears differently to customers depending on their search terms, making their ads more relevant and useful.

“To run a DKI test, a retailer will have two ads that are exactly the same, one named (DKI) and one not. DKI is essentially taking the keyword that the user typed into the search query box and dynamically inserting it into the ad,” she said.

For example: The stagnant headline would read “Shop Levi’s Jeans”. The DKI test ad would change depending on what the user types into the search box. If they type in “Shop 501 Levi’s Jeans” – then their headline would read “Shop 501 Levi’s Jeans” rather than just “Shop Levi’s Jeans”.

“It makes the ad more relevant to the user, which increases quality score and ad positioning – making it more likely your ad will get clicked on and convert.”

To use this feature in your ads, you insert a special piece of code into your ad text. For more visit “Why To Use Dynamic Keyword Insertion in Ad Copy“.

Below is an example of DKI testing where the headline will be dynamically created based on the keyword that is triggered by the search query:




Ad Copy Testing Tips:

From an internal standpoint, it’s important to be innovative with ad copy and keep up with current trends – especially against your competitors.

Second, if you’re constantly testing, it shows that you are doing everything you can to optimize the ad and increase the amount of data you base your strategy on.ab testing

1. Only test one element of your ad copy at a time

“It’s really important you are testing one element of the ad copy at a time whether that’s the headline or the description line because if you are testing multiple components and pulling different levers – you won’t know where to attribute that performance.”

“Ideally, you will have two ads per ad group running at a time, the ads will be identical except for one element. Whatever you are testing – make sure everything else is consistent with the other ad so you can know whether your performance is a success or unsuccessful and why.”

2. Test for a minimum of 30 days

“There’s no such thing as ‘too much’ testing as long as you are doing it appropriately. I would recommend a minimum of 30 days to run a test. You should check it every 3 to 5 days to make sure nothing went terrible wrong. I wouldn’t make any changes or pause the ad(s) until 30 days later. You want to avoid testing overlap or testing for too short a period of time.”

“Once that 30 days is up, you can see which ad won between A and B. You know if it won by the click through rate & conversion rate. Then you would pause the ad copy that scored lower and continue testing it with new ad copy.”

Why should retailers continue testing even after they have found a successful ad copy “winner”?

“That is another reason why it’s easy to fall into complacency. Retailers initially build their campaigns with two ads and many account managers will simply pause the one that lost but not start a new test. Retailers should always be testing. That ‘winning’ ad may be good enough for now but there are always ways to make it better,” she said.

3. Keep in mind seasonality 

“Not every 30 days is consistent. You could be testing something in December (ex: heavy sweaters) that is not going to work as well in the summer.”

4. Organize ad copy testing results

“You can apply labels in AdWords (for example: constant vs. the new ad). Here you can see the two ads running – the one that previously won would be your constant and the new ad would be your test. Make sure to set a reminder to check those in 30 days.”

“My advice would be to keep a log of the tests you are running and categorize those types by what kind of value they add to the retailer. Then decide after 30 to 60 days whether or not those tests were successful so that you know those types of ads work well.”

5. Don’t be afraid to be different

“You may want to try something that’s never been testing before – but that it what testing is all about. Retailer’s shouldn’t be afraid to be different.”

How to Find Innovative Ad Copy Testing

According to O’Connell, in addition to checking ecommerce blogs regularly, a great way to stay connected to the PPC community and identify upcoming trends in ad copy is to participate in, a weekly Twitter chat that brings together PPC specialists and online marketers across the world.

ppcchat_logoOccurring every Tuesday at 12pm (EST) and designated with the hashtag #PPCChat, participants discuss a wide range of PPC topics from fundamental concepts to advanced theory.

Every week, the moderator chooses a new topic and asks in-depth, thought provoking questions.

Within this forum, knowledge is shared and debates ensue in order to educate and enlighten the PPC community. The hashtag is also used throughout the week to ask questions, share blog posts, and to present PPC news and information.






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