Continuing my theme of interesting and informative topics from SES San Jose, I wanted to touch on a session I attended about paid search ad testing and research findings. With search engine SERPs undergoing a makeover, I think PPC ad testing will become increasingly important. A search results page may now include blog, images, video and news results via the new universal and blended search trend. What is this going to mean for the scanning eyes of searchers?
Gord Hotchkiss, CEO of Enquiro, made the point that more rich ads are needed because the new image, video, and news results are building fences on the SERP. Gord used a great example in his presentation, but I went out and did a search on “iPhone” to try and build a similar SERP. Here are my results:
Many tests have been done in the past that show the eyes of searchers stall out around the top organic and top paid results in the top left corner of the SERP. I’m wondering if that is going to change. My eyes scanned right down to the image and then to the right. This is what Gord is talking about when he said that Universal search is going to be building fences on the SERP – scanning patterns are changing. The eyes are given boundaries to stay within.
Gord as well as other presenters also made the point that the SERPs are becoming individual portal results based on the search. Ask.com uncovered Ask3D at the conference which builds a portal page for every search you run. Plus, you’ll see on Ask.com that paid results and organic results blend together very nicely (very good for advertisers).
So, what does this all mean for advertisers? We’re going to need to test our ads in different locations on the SERP. I think the top spot will see a slight decrease in CTR while locations in the 3-6 spot might get more eye scans. I think it really depends on your keywords and what kind of organic results they’re going to draw.
The rest of the panel included:
Anton Konikoff, Founder and CEO, Acronym Media
Jonathan Mendez, Founder & Chief Strategy Officer, OTTO Digital
Nico Brooks, Director of Search Technology, Atlas
Other PPC ad testing topics that were discussed by the panel include:
- Separate out Branded and Non-Branded keywords into different ad groups or even different campaigns.
- Consider seasonality when testing.
- Test ads by match type (broad, matching, exact).
- Don’t forget to test description line #1. Many focus too much on headlines. Try keeping the headline the same and testing two different ad copies in the first description line.
- 3-4 ads running at the same time in one ad group for testing purposes is not a bad thing.
- Let the test run for 100 to 1000 clicks.
- Always remember that more data = more confidence.
- After test period, make sure that you look at what interactions with your ad led to conversions.
Needless to say, the days of throwing some keywords together, popping up some ads, and letting the campaign sail are over. Clicks will be harder to come by and testing will become increasingly important!