When it comes to places to test ads, today’s marketers are spoilt for choice. Before you dive in, consider all the stages of your ad testing program and the kind of insights you want to develop.
Take advantage of testing opportunities
Whether you run your ad on a social media channel, through PPC on a search engine results page or via a video ident, you need to gauge how it performs. Your chosen channel will usually come with built-in tools to quantify your ad’s performance in specific, measurable ways.
The majority of advertising platforms also have built-in tools which make it possible to do A/B testing – i.e. to serve different versions of an advertisement to two segments of the audience and see which one performs best.
A/B testing can be resourced cheaply and implemented almost instantaneously, so it’s an ideal method for iterative testing throughout a campaign. Continually refining individual elements, such as buttons and calls to action, can help you fine-tune the ad with really detailed control. Your findings can be extended across different campaigns.
However, be aware that one size doesn’t fit all – the ad that was a roaring success on Instagram is unlikely to work in the same way if you transplant it as-is to Facebook. Over time, A/B testing can help you determine your optimum approach for each platform.
Knowing what happened is the easy part
Details of how many people engaged with your ad, when they did so, what percentage of them then made a purchase, and so on… this type of data granularity has become standard. This is ‘what happened’ data, or operational data, which reports factually on the events you care about. Most companies collect this type of data, and many have more of it than they know what to do with.
But collecting operational data is helpful only if you know how to interpret it. You need to know not just what has happened, but why it happened, and how it can be replicated or avoided in the future.
X-data – the next level
There’s an emerging stream of higher-level data that can unravel deeper meanings behind operational facts and figures. This is experience data, or x-data, and it’s centered around the people you care about, rather than the things that happen. It’s all about the experiences they are having, what they value, what turns them off a purchase, and what’s driving their decisions.
This data can come in the form of sentiment, rankings and ratings, or in the customer’s own words through reviews and customer service conversations.
In the case of ad testing, the focus is likely to be your prospective customers, or the audience groups you’re targeting with your ads, if you’re using a medium that makes this possible.