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Guide to ad testing tools

This blog shows you what to look for in ad testing tools, along with an introduction to some of the best ad testing tools on the market.
Jess Cook

Ad testing is a crucial part of the digital marketing process, and any business that wants to stay ahead of the curve should be using ad testing tools to do it efficiently. With so many options on the market, it can be hard to know which tool is right for you. That's why we've put together this comprehensive guide discussing everything you need to know about ad testing tools so you can make an informed decision that will be right for your business.

Why should you use ad testing tools?

Ad testing tools can be a great way to improve your advertising campaigns, both short and long-term. These tools can help you find the highest performing versions of your ads, and help you gain insights into what type of ad creative resonates with your audience. This kind of information is obviously incredibly valuable to advertising and marketing teams for a number of reasons, including:

  • You can gain a better understanding of different audiences, empowering ad creation fine-tuned for each audience's preferences and more effective targeting
  • You will have data to back up your creative decisions. This comes in handy if there is some disagreement about your design choices. No one can argue with the cold-hard facts of data. 
  • You will make the entire creative team more efficient. It is a lot easier for designers to know right from the get-go what elements they should be using for the most effective results.

How can ad testing tools improve your sales?

Data gained from your ad testing process can further optimize ad campaigns and target your audiences more effectively with ads you know will be high-performing. This in turn will boost your conversion rates, and help improve your overall advertising ROI.

However, it is important to note that no ad testing tools are the same, nor do they all use the same methods of ad testing. It’s  important to find a tool that will help you meet your business goals.

And if you haven’t got a clue about the different ad testing methods or which one you should be using, don't worry — we’ve got you covered in the next section. 

Ad testing formats

A/B testing

A/B testing is the most common type of ad testing method, where you simply show two different versions of an ad and see which one performs better. 

This is a very basic version of ad testing, and while you may learn which ad is better than another, it doesn’t offer you any information about why or what parts of it make it better. This means that you don’t gain any real insights that can be applied to future ad campaigns — it will simply provide you with information that can only be applied to those two exact ads within the test, which if you ask us, isn’t really that helpful.

Multivariate testing

Multivariate testing is a slightly more complex approach than A/B testing, but the benefits of this method are far greater. Why? Because it answers the parts A/B testing doesn’t: what element exactly is driving success in your creative? 

So how does this method work exactly?

When you use a multivariate testing method, you aren’t going to just test out one or two ads. You are going to test aaaaaalllllll the ads. Well, all the possible combinations of the elements in your ad at least.

For example, after you design your ad, maybe you decide you’d like to swap some of the elements to see if it will affect your click-through rate. So you let's say you want to test 4 different headlines, 3 different images, 2 background colors, and 3 calls to action - the below image shows the breakdown of how that actually would look. 

With a multivariate approach, you would test a total of 72 ads.
(3 headlines x 3 images x 2 colors x 3 CTAs = 72)

The reason that this ad testing method is so beneficial is that you don’t just learn which ads are winners, you learn why they are winners. 

If you could learn that a couple tweaks to your ad would increase your ROAS by 129%, I am pretty sure that is the kind of information you would want to know. And these kinds of insights are only possible when you use a multivariate testing approach.

What to look for in an ad testing tool

Granularity

This is one of the fundamental features that you should look for in your ad testing tool because you want to be able to learn which specific elements in your ad are working, and which ones aren’t.

Many ad testing tools won't offer this type of specificity, but this feature is one that will offer the most detailed information about your ad creative, which is why we recommend you look for this capability in your ad testing tool. 

Historical data

The best ad testing tools will store your previous test data, and provide you with information on the ads that you have already tested, so you know which creative has worked well in the past (and which hasn't).

This data can then be used to help design better ad creative, as well as improve your marketing collateral throughout your entire company, such as your website design, infographics, packaging, brochures, etc. 

Budget control

One of the major reasons to invest in a third-party ad testing tool is to make the most out of your ad testing budget, without overspending or cutting corners. When evaluating a testing tool, be sure to look for one that will enable you to test your ads by distributing your budget in a way that makes sense for your business goals.

Top ad testing tools: a comparison

Marpipe

Marpipe is a powerful ad testing tool that can help you optimize your ad campaigns for maximum performance. We do this by using a multivariate testing method, allowing you to test all of the possible combinations of the elements in your ad, so you are able to see with great detail the specific creative elements that are driving your ads performance. 

And even better, Marpipe actually will create the ad variants for you, saving you the tedious task of creating them yourself. It's the most effective method of ad testing, because you will gain detailed analytics that will enable you to make data-backed decisions about your ad creative. That way, when you are designing ads in the future you can ensure you are creating ads that will be high-performing and will resonate with your target audience. 

AdEspresso by Hootsuite

Ad Espresso is a third-party ad testing tool that allows you to manage your ads for Facebook, Instagram, and Google all from the same place. They also have the option to create split tests. However, this split testing option is also available within the new native Facebook Ads Manager for free.

Also, AdEspresso caps total ad spend at $1,000 a month. (Not exactly helpful if you are trying to run many tests, as you will likely hit this limit fairly early on each month.)

For those who are looking to gain creative intelligence that will drive better results for your ads, you should probably try a different third-party tool. This is because AdEspresso doesn’t really provide you with many additional insights about the creative elements within your ad, so you won’t learn the kind of specifics that are necessary for future ad campaigns. 

Crazy Egg

Crazy Egg is an online tool that monitors individual pages from your website, giving you a breakdown of where different visitors have clicked and on which part of the screen.

An example heat map in CrazyEgg

Although having a heat map like this is useful for some things, it is really more geared towards gaining insights about your website’s functionality, and how people interact with your website’s UI. It isn’t going to provide you with much information, if any, about your ad creative.

Google Optimize

Google Optimize is a web optimization tool designed by, rather unsurprisingly, Google. It offers a number of testing methods, including multivariate testing, but the main drawback here is that it is for testing websites, not ads. Additionally, you are limited to just 5 tests at a time - if you are looking to test at scale, this likely isn't going to work for you. 

The one nice thing about this tool is that it easily integrates with the other Google marketing tools, such as Google Analytics so it can easily provide you with a nice overview of all your data. But these days, many testing tools offer some sort of integration with Google anyways, so you shouldn’t decide based on that factor alone.

Google Optimize is a free tool that is great… for testing websites.
Not ads.

For those who are just getting started with testing and have very basic or limited testing needs Google Optimize might fit the bill, but if you are looking to learn about your ad creative and gain useful insights about your ads, you will want to try something else. 

Unbounce

Another tool that is used by some marketers to optimize their advertising is Unbounce. It is mainly a website landing page builder that is powered by AI, and it claims to help improve the effectiveness of your landing pages and also save you time building them. 

But there are a few drawbacks to be aware of before you start using the Unbounce website testing tool. First, it can be expensive. The monthly price for a single website starts at $90 per month, and if you want to test more than one site, the pricing goes up significantly. Second, Unbounce can be difficult to use, especially for those who are not familiar with website testing tools. The interface is not as user-friendly as some of the other options on the market, and it can take some time to get used to all of the features. 

Overall, Unbounce is a powerful website and landing page testing tool that can be useful for those who are willing to pay for it and put in the time to learn how to use it. However, it is not the right choice for everyone, particularly if you are looking to test your ads, because it doesn’t really offer that functionality. It just helps you test out your landing pages, which can be beneficial, but if you want a comprehensive ad testing tool, this isn’t it. 

What sets Marpipe apart?

Our software uses advanced, automated multivariate testing to test dozens of different variables at once, so you can quickly and easily identify the best performing combinations. This helps to ensure that your campaigns are always running at their best, and that you're getting the most out of your advertising budget. In addition, Marpipe is constantly being updated with new features and functionality, like our built-in live statistical significance calculator, which you won’t find in any other multivariate ad testing platform out there. We aim to be the best ad testing tool in the market, and so far our customers would agree. 

If you'd like to learn more about some of our ad testing best practices, be sure to check out the definitive guide to creative testing on our blog. And if you are ready to gain valuable insights about your ad creative, get in touch with a member of our team, so you can start creating winning ads that get results.

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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