A Short Guide to PPC Ad Text Testing

Ad text test testing should be a key focus for any PPC campaign manager. The benefits of continually improving the performance of text ads makes it worth the time and resources put into it. With the new expanded ads, which have now been fully rolled out across Adwords and Bing, there are plenty of elements that can be tested in order to improve on the current performance of your PPC activity.

Best Practice for Testing Ads

In order to run fair tests that offer clear results we always maintain the following best practices:

1. Include 2 or 3 ads in each ad group depending on the amount of data you are collecting.

2. Test one element of an ad at a time, Headline 1 or 2, Description or Path 1 or 2.

The example ads below shows a variation with the call to action, all other elements are the same.

Variant 1 

PPC Ad Text Variant 1



Variant 2

PPC Ad Text Variant 2


3. Set ads to rotate in the campaign settings. This allows for impressions to be evenly spread across the ads, giving you much fairer result from any tests.

4. Review the performance of any test on a regular basis, if tests are not reviewed the poorer performing ads could be left to run, losing clicks, conversions and revenue.

Examples of Elements to Test

Unique selling point

‘Same day dispatch’
‘Secure online ordering’

Call to action

‘Get a free, no obligation quote’
‘Get a quick quote online’

Emotive v direct language

‘ACME home security – Helping to keep your family safe & secure’
‘Professional alarm and CCTV fitting from ACME home security’

FOMO v Direct

‘Get an extra 10% off all blue widgets. Hurry, only 20 left in stock!’
‘Get an extra 10% off all blue widgets. Buy now for same day dispatch’

Ad Text Matrix

When running ad text tests at Rare, we use a matrix to record the performance (example below). This helps to ensure that the data reviewed is run from when any changes to the ads were made, stopping any chance of skewed results. We can also use the ad text matrix to record results from previous tests so we have a record of what has and hasn’t worked in the past. Also, by keeping the results of old tests we can consider bringing back elements of variations that may have had a good click-through rate with poor conversion rate, but could be tested again with a slight tweak.

PPC Ad Text Testing Matrix

Metrics to Consider

When running ad text tests we consider the following metrics when reviewing the performance.

  1. Click Through Rate
  2. Conversion Rate
  3. Profit per Impression (PPI)
  4. Conversion Index (for lead generation campaigns)

Profit and Conversions per Impression will compound the key metrics giving a holistic view of the performance of an ad.

For example, Profit per Impression considers CTR, Conversion Rate and Average Order Value. PPI = ((Revenue-Spend)/Impressions). If this value is too low you can consider the following formula ((Revenue-Spend)/Impressions) *1000 to get the profit per 1000 impressions.

The Conversion Index is the number of conversions per impressions, the formula for this metric is CTR*Conv. Rate.

Statistical Significance

When analysing the results from any tests always consider the Statistical Significance of the winning metric. When a winning variant has a 95% statistical accuracy you can be confident that the results are reliable and if you ran the test again you would get the same outcome.

Other Considerations

  • Messages with high CTR but low conversions/revenue can be used as Sitelinks or other ad extensions
  • Test dynamic elements or ad customisers which can alter messages based on the user’s device and/or location
  • Analyse customer reviews or surveys to find messages to test
  • Try and stand out from your competitors

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