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Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Thank You, Client, for Ad Rotation Observation

Many ideas flowing at this week's Search Engine Strategies in Chicago.

In the session on Creating Compelling Ads, some talk turned to the testing process and when or how to continue testing after the initial wave of testing may have yielded a definitive winner.

There is no definitive answer to that one.

This did remind me of an interesting point, though, one that was brought up some time ago by a smart client of mine. Google's ad rotator will rotate ads evenly so you can test them. 50-50 if you have two ads in an ad group. 25-25-25-25 if you have four, and so on.

What AdWords doesn't offer is a way of rotating ads with a weighting set by you. Where a custom weighting would come in particularly handy would be if you had high confidence that a single ad was the best one (that you've discovered so far among several alternatives) for a given ad group. Introducing a new ad to test is stealing away too many ad impressions, lowering economic performance if you wish to continue trying new ideas. In other words, after a certain point, testing may hurt you, or at least be a nuisance that hurts as much as it helps.

Not so if you could split the impressions 95%-5%, to test a "contender" ad at a much lower volume than the current winning ad.

You could argue that the same effect would be achieved by just trying the contender ad for a few hours. But the results of the test are probably more reliable if spread out over a longer time period.

If Google offered a way to test "contender ads" at a smaller % of rotations, then the question about when to stop testing, or how often to initiate new ad tests, would be easier: never; and a bit more often than you do now.

Additional ad testing aids that the major paid search providers could include? How about a menu system to help you organize and make notes on previous ads (something better than just "view all ads including deleted ones"), or a way of moving copy elements around so that materials you've used in parts of a large campaign might be easier to manage and apply to other parts?

Tall orders, but we're always on the lookout for an edge around here. :)

Posted by Andrew Goodman




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