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How to get started with Facebook ad testing (the easy way)

What should you know about Facebook ad testing? Here’s how you can get started to test your Facebook ads.
Susan Wenograd

One of the important parts of using paid ads as part of your marketing strategy is determining which creative to run, when to run it, and who to run it in front of, so you can make the most out of your advertising budget. To do this, many businesses turn to Facebook ad testing to ensure they are running the most performant ad creative possible.

We've put together this blog post that contains everything you need to know to get started with testing your ads on Facebook so you can make informed decisions to improve your overall ad performance.

By testing ads, you can determine which ad creative is going to be most effective for your audience and your goals. This helps reduce the chances of running an underperforming ad campaign. 

It is important to note that there are several ways you can test your ads — and they are not all created equal. There are certain testing methodologies that can provide you with more specific, actionable information about the elements within your ad. And when this data is applied to future ad designs, it can greatly improve the effectiveness of your Facebook advertising. We will break down the two most common methods used in ad testing, and also fill you in on the best method to use (hint: it’s not A/B testing.)

Questions to ask before setting up your ad tests

What are your goals?

When planning your Facebook advertising strategy, it's important to have a clear understanding of your overall business goals and advertising goals. Be sure that your advertising strategy is created with this in mind. Make sure that the ads you are using are going to help you meet your goals — otherwise, they might as well not be running at all.

If you have a solid understanding of why you are running your ads, and what you hope to achieve with them, you will have an easier time setting up an ad test that is going to provide you with the information you need. That way, you will have the data and insights necessary to create winning ads that will get you closer to meeting those business goals.

What hypothesis will be tested?

When testing ads, one of the most crucial steps is formulating a good hypothesis that will provide you with a clear objective for the test. Remember that a well-formulated hypothesis follows these rules:

  • It isn’t too specific, or too general
  • It establishes the variables to be tested
  • It is written in a clear and concise way
  • It is actually testable 

Some examples of a good hypothesis for your ad test would be:

  • I want to see which generates more conversions: images of my product being used by a model or images of the product by itself.
  • I want to see which discount drives CTR the most: BOGO, dollars off, or percentage off.
  • I want to see which background colors generate more leads.

There are many other possibilities, and you really can test anything that comes to mind to potentially help improve your Facebook ad performance. By taking the time to formulate a solid hypothesis, you will make the testing process that much easier because you will have a clear direction of what to test in your ad creative, and why you are testing it.

What is your budget?

The next question you need to consider is how much to budget for your ad testing. It is essential to set a budget that is going to be adequate to get helpful results from your testing, without overspending. This will help you avoid making decisions based on too little data while also giving you the greatest amount of remaining budget to scale winning ads.

Generally, a good starting point is to allocate 10–20% of your overall media budget for ad testing. It is important to determine this beforehand, as it will help decide how long you run your ad test, as well as the budget for each ad group.

Remember: by setting a realistic budget for your ad testing, you will help prevent any unplanned expenses or headaches down the line, so don't skip over this step.

How will you measure success?

It is vital to set clear and measurable goals before starting any advertising campaign, and that includes setting goals for your ad tests. This way, you will know what metrics to pay attention to during the testing process.

The way you measure your success will vary depending on the particular goals of the ads, but some common KPIs are:  

  • cost-per-acquisition (CPA)
  • cost-per-click (CPC)
  • click-through rate (CTR)
  • ad impressions
  • return on ad spend (ROAS)
Your return on ad spend (ROAS) is an important metric to pay attention to that can clearly show you how successful the ads were in driving sales, as it is a measure of the revenue you earned for every dollar spent on advertising. 

Keep in mind that just because one ad doesn’t perform well in one of these categories, doesn’t mean that it can’t be a winner in a different one. For example, you might end up with a winning ad in terms of the CPA, but then find it doesn’t have any effect on your CTR. And even if you find it isn’t a winner in any category, that is okay too — sometimes our losing ads actually can provide some of the most useful information. 

And no matter what, the testing will always be able to help you determine which ads are successful and which aren't to make well-informed, metrics-based decisions as to which ads you should scale, and which ads to stop running altogether.

Choosing your test method: Multivariate vs. A/B testing

When setting up Facebook ad tests, you have two main test methods to choose from: A/B testing, and multivariate testing. Each of these methods has its own advantages and disadvantages, and it's essential to keep them in mind when determining the best testing approach for your specific goals.

What is A/B testing?

A/B testing is a process where you run two different ads at the same time to see which one will perform better. While this type of testing is popular, there are some pitfalls that cause it to be less effective than other methods, like multivariate testing.

The problem with A/B tests

Although an A/B test can be useful to determine which of your two ads is going to perform better, it doesn't tell you the reason why it is better. And that is the main problem with A/B tests: they aren’t particularly useful for much other than knowing at a very basic level which of the two ads is better. They don't provide enough information to give you much insight for designing better ads in the future since you can’t determine which specific elements of the winning ad were behind its effectiveness.

In the end, A/B testing isn't the best method of ad testing if you are looking to gain precise, detailed data about your Facebook ads. 

Say hello to your soon-to-be favorite testing method: multivariate testing.

What is multivariate testing?

Multivariate testing measures the performance of every possible combination of creative variables within an ad — images, headlines, logo variations, calls to action, etc. The benefit of using this testing approach is you can see the most specific data on how changing the different variables within the ad impacts the ad’s performance.

Knowing what headline will have a higher CTR, or what image will have a higher engagement level, gives you detailed information about the parts of your ads that are most effective and helps you identify — at a micro level — which ad creative works best for your business and target audience.

Why we recommend multivariate testing

Multivariate testing solves the problem that is encountered when using an A/B testing method by allowing you to compare all of the possible variations of your ads (think, dozens or hundreds of variations) in order to see which ad creative will produce the best results. By testing all of the possible combinations of the ad, you can then learn which specific elements are behind the winning ad.

You can gain extremely specific information, like which background color will result in more shares, or which call to action will have a higher click-through rate. With multivariate testing, you gain highly specific information about your ad creative, which you can then apply to improve your advertising designs in the future.

What should you test?

At this point, you will need to determine what exactly you want to test — and there are a lot of options. Things like the placement of your ad, the timing or budget, the audience you are targeting, and even the specific creative elements within the ad can be tested — right down to the font size or color.

The modular approach

In order to make the most out of your testing, we recommend that you use a modular approach when designing your ads. This lets you easily test many variations to the ad creative, without needing to completely start the design from scratch every time. 

With modular creative, you think of your ad like a template; your image goes in one spot, your headline in another, etc. You can then use all the versions of each element you want to test interchangeably, and still produce a visually appealing ad that makes sense. 

One of the great benefits of using a modular approach is that it can be used for ad testing at scale — meaning you can test different copy, images, and designs without having to spend a ton of time coming up with all the different variations because they all will work with each other and fit into the ad template you create  

 

With a modular design, all of the elements of the ad can be interchanged — something that is key for efficient multivariate ad testing at scale.

 

Design elements: headings, graphics, CTA

By testing different creative elements in combination with each other, you can improve the performance of your ad and also learn how to make better ads in the future. Your specific headings, graphics, and copy within the ad all play an important part in creating a winning ad - it's essential that you test them all to see which combination of these elements will resonate best with your audience. Using a multivariate ad test will help identify these factors much more quickly than performing traditional split tests alone would.

Methods to scale up your Facebook ads

One of the main reasons to test your Facebook ads is to gain insight into which are performing well so that you can scale that particular ad, and stop showing any underperforming ones.  

There are a couple of methods you can use to scale up your ads, and each of these methods can be effective if they are done at the right time.

Increase your budget for profitable ad sets

The first method to scale is the easiest: simply increase your budget for the ad sets that are winners. Simple. Just remember to keep a close eye on the ad sets you increase your budget for in order to make fine-tuning decisions as needed.

Develop new creative

Another option for scaling your ads is developing new creative based on your existing high-performing ads. This way, you can create slightly different content and be confident that they will have good results, while still managing to keep your audience engaged with your ads.

The challenge of ad testing at scale

While Facebook ad testing is a valuable tool for businesses of all sizes, ad testing at scale can be a challenge due to the time-consuming and tedious process of setting everything up manually. That's why many businesses will turn to an automated testing tool to help speed things up. Because let’s be real, no one wants to spend their day manually uploading hundreds of ad variants. Not only is it tedious, but it is also just far too time-consuming to be a realistic or effective option for most marketing teams to do manually.  

How an automated testing tool can help

On the other hand, when you use an automated testing tool (such as Marpipe) you can create and test many versions of your ad at scale, making the process faster and easier while also gaining insights into your ad creative that wouldn't be possible otherwise.

The benefits of Marpipe

Marpipe is a powerful ad testing tool that can help you optimize your Facebook ad campaigns for maximum results with automated multivariate tests. This allows you to run dozens (even hundreds!) of ad tests simultaneously and also track the results in real time, making it a great way to improve your advertising strategy for Facebook ads. 

With Marpipe, you can:

  • Upload all your brand assets
  • Build your unique ad design and define your variables
  • Drag and drop the images, copy, colors, and more you want to test
  • Auto-generate every possible combination of ads with one click
  • Automate the process of structuring and launching test campaigns
  • Control for spend across all ad variants (Marpipe does the math for you)
  • Know when you have significant results

And the best part about using an automated tool like Marpipe is that not only will you save hours of manual testing AND improve your advertising ROI, you will be able to do so with less work than before. And really, who doesn't want that?

Use multivariate testing to scale the output and performance of your Facebook ad tests

Facebook ad testing is a critical part of a marketing strategy, as it allows you to test different ad copy, images, and landing pages to see which produces the best results. However, testing at scale is a huge challenge when done manually, and relying on humans to make the right decisions also can end up being both time-consuming and costly. 

To overcome these difficulties, many marketing and advertising professionals turn to automated testing tools like Marpipe to test their ads at scale. In doing so, they gain specific and actionable information about their ad creative to improve their ROI and provide insights for more effective ad campaigns in the future.

We know that ads built upon creative intelligence work better (our customers know what’s up.) 

Join the many creative teams and performance marketers who are testing their way to top ad performance with Marpipe.

How to Run a Multivariate Test

The Beginner's Guide

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How to Run a Multivariate Test
The Beginner's Guide

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