At Primer, we talk a lot about ad testing. There’s a simple reason why: it works. In our full-service agency, we run performance marketing for dozens of brands. Each of them comes to us with an aggressive growth goal. Ad testing is the way we hit their goals.

We run new tests every two weeks, following our Outlier Method. In one month, our testing schedule looks like this:

We aim to alternate new, big idea tests with scaling tests that create variations on our top performers. In each group of tests, we create videos, copy and a landing page (we often test static images too).

In the example above, the “big idea” test is the designer highlight, while the “scaling top performers” test is the scaling or iteration test.

This testing cadence fills the creative pipeline, ensuring there is always fresh creative and new opportunities to find a top-performing ad.

We know that when we don’t follow this cadence, performance suffers. In the past, for various reasons, a few of our agency partners didn’t sustain this testing schedule continuously.

When their tests fell short, so did their number of wins, ultimately affecting their CPA and ROAS.

In one month, for example, when our partners fell short of their testing cadence, they generated 0 new wins.

No Ad Testing

In contrast, in the same month, the partners who tested consistently saw significant wins and consistent or improved performance, generating performance that was 2.55 times better than the partners who did not test.

Consistent Ad Testing

What is a win? A win, or Outliers as we call them, are generally ads that perform better than the rest in their campaign. We define them by this criteria:

  • Not identified as a new win in a previous month
  • Live for at least 14 days
  • At least a 10% improvement over average CPA/ROAS OR 5% below the big win CPA/ROAS goal
  • A minimum of 10 conversions

Ad Testing Can Be Hard

There are a lot of good reasons why you may not be testing a lot in your ad accounts.

Isn’t It Easier to Optimize for Growth?

It could feel good to make immediate changes in the ad platform. When account performance is not ideal, it’s a natural tendency to want to make quick account optimizations.

This type of scrambling, however, takes away from bigger priorities, like strong ideation and development for new creative tests. What results is an account that is just treading water.

Once ads are fatigued, it’s rare (if ever) that they come back and perform at peak levels. It’s better to take what you learned from those ads and keep building.

Ad Testing Takes Time

Creative testing can seem time consuming. It takes time and preparation to develop a creative roadmap and the creative assets you need to test. Maybe you’re not sure where assets are or what the best messaging is. Testing can feel like you’re just throwing a bunch of stuff at the wall to see what sticks.

The truth is… you are. But it’s important to start noticing what sticks and building from there. Once you unlock the key creative learnings for accounts, briefs become much easier to write because you have such a strong baseline to build from. You can mix and match what’s working for scaling sprints or build off them for new big ideas.

A repeated testing cadence has an outsized impact in the performance of your ad account.

Ad accounts with consistent creative testing have fewer daily fluctuations and can ride the small ups and downs of daily account performance because of the bigger creative wins that improve overall account performance.

Is Creative Testing Expensive? 

It’s true that testing ad sets are almost above campaign averages. However, if you are building off of your learnings from those tests, you should find outliers that make incremental improvement towards your CPA goal.

Creative testing and learning is just like any other journey — you can only take one step at a time. Taking those individual steps will lead you to eventually reach your goal and consistent cost savings that far outweigh the costs of creative development and production.

Ad accounts with creative testing performed 2.55x better than those without testing.

Test More, Win More.

When performance starts to drop for one of partners, the creative testing cadence is the first thing we look at. We suggest you do too.

Are you running enough ad tests? Here are a few resources to help you find out and plan:

Looking for Help With Ad Testing?

Maintaining this cadence can be tricky. If you need help filling your creative pipeline with high-quality ads, check out Primer’s On-Demand creative service that delivers conversion-focused ad creative in 2 – 4 days.

For a growth partner that can handle your creative and testing strategy from ideation through to analysis, schedule a call with Primer’s full-service agency team.