AB Testing (Split Testing) to Optimize Your Banner Ads

In the digital marketing industry, A/B testing plays a significant role in deciding the fate of an advertising campaign. Marketers have been using A/B testing for improving various marketing forms like email campaigns, banner ads and landing pages.

Why is AB Testing important?

The importance of A/B testing has been nicely put forth by Brian Christian in an issue of Wired – “Over the past decade, the power of A/B testing has become an open secret of high-stakes web development. It’s now the standard (but seldom advertised) means through which Silicon Valley improves its online products.”

If you are planning to optimize your banner ads, you can start with A/B testing of a few elements within your ad.

There are a lot of elements which can fall under the scope of A/B testing. At times there are chances that you might be overwhelmed by the enormity of the list of testable elements. However, you cannot, at any point question the power of marketing tests, especially if you are a display advertiser.

Basic Elements of Split Tests (AB Testing):

Let us find out three basic elements of a A/B test which can get you going. They will also enhance your knowledge about the ads and how you can improve the ads’ performance.

Call-to-Action(CTA): Call-to-action forms an important part of any banner ad. If your ad has a proper CTA, it can improve the performance of the ad dramatically. A good CTA, however, depends on the campaign. At times, a straight-forward CTA like “Buy Now” or “Call Today” can be extremely effective. On the contrary, there can be times when a subtle tone like “Find Out More” may work wonders. Perform a A/B test with both the forms, check out the results and find out which is more useful for your campaign.

A point to remember is when you want to gauge the effectiveness of a call-to-action test, simply change the text of the ad. Keep the rest of the ad components, like the colors, images and even the surrounding button same. This way you can determine easily which text is working for you.

Colors, Images and Backgrounds: Display ads are mostly about the visual aspects – the combination of colors, images and backgrounds. There are still conflicting views about what works best in display ads. A photograph, a graphical element, a plain background or a bright background – you are confused with the myriad choices and cannot decide what is best for you.

Make different ads with different formats, keeping the text same, to find out which one of them is yielding you the desired result. At times, a change in the background color or a minor change in the CTA button can result in a massive improvement in the performance. You can, then optimize your banner ads accordingly.

Copy Texts: Notwithstanding the significance of the visual appeal of the ads, we also cannot ignore the importance of the copy texts of those ads.

Your ad might have the option of using only a few lines of texts, including a few bullet points to highlight the features. You might be thinking – what difference does those few lines make in an ad campaign. To your surprise, the difference can be quite dramatic.

Simply change a single or a few words from the text, keeping the meaning and format same and test them. “Banner Ads Made Simple” and “Banner Ads Made Easy” – the only difference in the two ads is the use of the words ‘simple’ and ‘easy’. But when you test their results, you will find there are scalable differences in their performances.

With a very minute change in the language and meaning of your ad, you can increase the number of visitors to your landing page. It would be foolish on your part to ignore these important elements of a display ad, however small they may seem to be.

If you want to optimize your banner ads and is unsure about where to start, these are the three points to focus on. Start with these elements of A/B testing, monitor the performances and optimize your banner ads based on the test results.