By Owen Fay . Posted on November 8, 2022

How confident are you in your ads? Have you tested them to make sure they’re optimized to convert users?

No matter if you want your ads to increase sales, boost awareness, or achieve any other goals, you need to know that you are running ads that will work. You might have heard of ad testing but might be a little skeptical about the cost, the effort it takes, and if an ad test is really worth it.

Ad testing is the process of putting different ads in front of your target audience and asking them for feedback on which one they would click on, what design is the best, or which ad is the most effective. You can run an ad test on a single element of your ad like images, headlines, descriptions or on the entire ad itself. Asking users to compare or give feedback on your ads can tell you everything from how much the ad stands out to how trustworthy it is.

In this article we will cover ad testing, why ad testing matters, tell you if an ad test is worth it, and how to run a test with Poll the People.

What is Ad Testing

An ad test is when you get ads evaluated by your target audience before deploying them to Google, Facebook, or other advertising channels.

This gives your valuable feedback to understand customer opinions and willingness to engage with the ads, allowing you to optimize every aspect of the ad before spending money on them. There are a few ways to test your ads but in this article we are going to focus on remote, unmoderated ad testing.

The elements of an ad you test can be a number of different things. It could be as important as your headline or the ad copy to small elements like color of the ad. A few of the questions an ad test can answer include:

Does the Ad Meet Customer Needs?

“Your customers have potential needs, and your job is to assess those needs and sell to them,” – David Bucher, Marketing and Advertising Specialist

Your customers and their needs are what drives your business, if you can address their issues and be a solution, your ads will be effective. An ad test will tell you if the headlines, copy, images, CTAs, and other elements of your ads meet customer needs and get their attention.

How does your ad compare to competitors?

If you are in an industry that is highly competitive you need to make sure your ads are just as effective or more effective than your competitors. If you launch an ad test where you compare your ad design against a competitor’s ad and ask users which one is more engaging, appealing, or believable you will get a better idea of how to create ads that beat your competitors. 

Do you need to make changes to your ad?

A lot of marketers will remove ads or make changes without knowing what has the biggest impact on ad effectiveness. This typically happens when a marketer feels they don’t have time or money to test their ads or get enough data to understand what has the biggest impact on conversions. There are a lot of times where one small change to a headline, copy, or CTA can result in great return.

An ad test with Poll the People will tell you what needs to be changed and what works in your ads. In a matter of minutes, for just a few dollars, you will get real feedback from real people to improve any element of your ad.

Why Ad Testing Matters

For the majority of consumers, an advertising campaign is how they first become aware of a new good, service, or company. Ads are everywhere, whether consumers see them from a Google search, as a banner ad, or anywhere else, they need to be effective to convert users. In a number of situations, your advertisement serves as a crucial first impression or a means of confirming or altering the impressions that consumers already have of you. Every year, companies spend billions on advertising, and that number is only rising. Over $800 billion will reportedly be spent on advertising globally by 2026.

Businesses spend astronomical amounts on ads because they can be extremely effective. But, this spend also means there is a lot of competition in advertising.

When you add a pre-live ad testing process to your business the chances of high return on ad spend increases.

Measuring ad effectiveness and optimizing ads through testing offers a number of benefits:

Gather Data to Validate Decisions

You can’t argue with data, if you can prove which ad designs are the best, you should have an easy time convincing colleagues to run the winning ad.

With ad testing, you can base your decisions on more accurate data rather than depending solely on intuition. Testing essentially takes all the uncertainty out of the ad optimization as well as empowers the organization to make data-backed decisions.

Reduce the Risk of Running a “Bad” Ad

Ad testing eliminates the risk of wasting time and money running ads that simply don’t work. With feedback from your target audience you will find out if an ad doesn’t engage the audience, fails to communicate the message, or has a bad design.

It offers suggestions for how to make your ads better or how to completely alter them to better suit the demands of the audience. Let’s take the example of copy testing. The winner is well-liked by your audience, but its message is not entirely convincing to them. You have the opportunity to improve your already appealing copy with this feedback!

By adjusting elements like headlines, ad copy, or CTAs you can compare two different versions of a marketing campaign. You choose the version that performs the best after presenting each to a portion of your audience with confidence that they will work once they go live.

Identify the Best Copy, Headline, Creative, & More

Your headlines, copy, creative, and how each element of your ad works together to engage with your audience is important to creating the best ads possible. When you test your ads with Poll the People you can choose a template to test different elements of your advertisement or test the entire design.

The feedback will tell you what copy, headline, creative or other element works for your audience and how you can improve them. In a matter of minutes you will have a way to find the best copy, headlines, and creative.

Eliminate Individual bias

Individual bias can dramatically hurt the effectiveness of your ads, if you make decisions on your ads alone you run the risk of being biased because you created them. It is important to get feedback to eliminate this issue and run ads that work for everyone rather than running ads that you think are best. Ad testing will put your ads in front of users that give you unbiased feedback, this will help eliminate your preferences and emotional attachment to your work. .

Understand Your Audience and Their Preferences

Every time you run an ad test, you are data backed decisions based on the feedback of your audience. Testing makes it more likely that your ads will succeed once they are live.

It enables you to comprehend and categorize various audiences. Once the replies are in, you can sort them to discover what various demographics (such as male vs. female respondents) think about different designs or ad elements. These insights can assist you in creating ads for different groups with the confidence that they will engage with the ad. It can also help in creating a single ad that seeks to include characteristics that appeal to each group. You can learn what the audience needs and preferences, in addition to what they think about your company.

Helps organize and iterate quickly

Agile market research is proven to be a great way to create the best possible ads. It is a method of research that involves frequent rounds of data collection to account for an organization’s needs over time. It allows your team to make better decisions more often, and rely less on agencies, research organizations, or other types of business.

Poll the People rapid ad testing lets you gather feedback in minutes, to get feedback on all of your ads without spending too much on research.

Is Ad Testing Worth It?

The short answer to this question is yes. Ad testing allows you to find the ads that will work the best for your business, without wasting your marketing budget. You will stop guessing and hoping you know what your users want and have the data and feedback to create ads that work.

Most businesses run ads to increase awareness, boost sales, or generate more leads. A pre-live ad test is a great way to ensure that the money being spent on advertisements is worthwhile. With specially designed test-running templates, Poll the People enables you to test headlines, copy, creative, or an entire advertisement.

An ad test becomes even more advantageous for your company by enabling you to determine the number of respondents you require and to obtain insightful data quickly and affordably through our market research panel. Compared to traditional A/B testing, focus groups, or in-person interviews, ad testing with Poll the People is more cost effective, faster, and can give you the same valuable feedback.

How to Run an Ad Test

Now that you know why testing your ads for effectiveness is so important, you’re ready to dive into the process of testing. Here are the 5 key steps you’ll need to follow.

Step 1: Pick A Testing Platform

Poll the People’s fast self-service platform that lets any company deploy a test within minutes. The usability tests are designed as quick 1-question A/B test surveys and completed in less than 60 minutes.

With a self-service system and a free signup, users can get started and deploy their first test fast. There is no need to design your own survey. Just use one of the expert-built templates and your responses will be rolling in within minutes.

You can watch the feedback responses to your test rolling in real-time in a Facebook-style news feed.

Step 2: Design Your Test

When you sign up for Poll the People you get access to our full template library, which includes expert-built templates for testing headlines, copy, messaging, images, and full ads. The first step to designing your ad test is to identify the element you want feedback on and choose the matching template.

From there you just need to add your headlines, copy, or full ad and ask a test question.  Once you have two choices (A and B), you pick an expert-built template from the list of available templates. Your test question needs to answer any concerns you have about your ad design, here are a few examples of a test question you can use:

  1. What ad do you prefer?
  2. Which of these two ads would you trust?
  3. Which of these two companies would you pick?

By presenting these two A/B choices and a question, you get into the minds of your customers.

That’s it. You are done. No complicated surveys to build.

Step 3: Pick The Number Of Responses

For usability testing ads, you will select the number of responses you want. For most tests, about 200 responses is a good number. This should give you sufficient statistical confidence and get enough consumer feedback. Also, the test should be completed quickly, within about 60 mins.

If you are short on budget, 100 responses would be fine too. But that would have a larger margin of error.

For most usability testing of Google or Facebook ads, picking 200 responses is recommended.

Step 4: Launch!

Review your choices and checkout. That’s it. You are done with the entire setup process in less than 5 minutes. Now sit back and watch the responses come rolling in within minutes. No more waiting for hours, days, or sometimes weeks for results.

Step 5: Analyze The Results

As the responses come in, you can watch them in a live real-time feed. You can immediately start analyzing the responses. Or you can wait for less than an hour for the full test to complete.

The first thing to look at is: Who won? And by what margin? The greater the margin, the greater your confidence in your choice.

Then look at the feedback from the responses. Each respondent has to provide a clear explanation as to why they made their choice. This is where you are getting into the minds of your customers.

Google metrics like CTR are great at giving you a high-level idea about the performance of your ads. However, they don’t tell you WHY the customer skipped over your ad. They won’t let you get into the minds of your customers or ordinary people.

The feedback from the responses does. You will sometimes see insightful comments about your questions and possibly have some new findings.

That’s it. You are done with your test in less than 60 mins.

Best Practices for Ad Testing

Here are 5 simple things to stay on top of as you test your ads:

  • Keep your testing goals consistent: Ask the same question in each ad test to compare results and understand what works best.
  • Use high-quality visuals: Ads that are fuzzy or pixilated – whether it is a video or an image – can make it difficult for the audience to give feedback.
  • Get enough feedback: You need to get a statistically significant number of responses to effectively make changes to your ads. Use our panel of responses to gain enough responses to make a decision.
  • Analyze all of the feedback: It is important to understand all of the responses your audience gives you to make the best decision and create the most effective ads.
  • Use the feedback: You need to eliminate individual bias from your ads, use the feedback from the test to educate your decisions.

You’ve learned that ad testing, if done right, is absolutely worth the time, money, and effort, discovered how to run a test, and even got some valuable tips to ensure your tests run smoothly.

Once you are ready to optimize your ads without blowing your budget, sign up for Poll the People and launch your first ad test in minutes!

Owen Fay

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