Woman sitting on a target with a key in the bullseye.

3 Paid Advertising Experiments We Learned From In March

Woman sitting on a target with a key in the bullseye.

Everyone seems to be so focused on paid advertising growth hacks that skyrocket your numbers overnight. To be completely honest with you, small, incremental improvements are the key to sustainably growing your business.

When it comes to paid advertising online, there’s always a new feature.

Whether it’s additional campaign types, optimization tools, user interface tweaks or aesthetic alterations, it feels like we have oodles of new rollouts flying down the pike. Sometimes it feels like it never stops.

This month, we had the opportunity to run a few small paid advertising experiments with our clients:

  • Experiment #1: Facebook Messenger Ads 🤖
  • Experiment #2: Responsive Display Video Ads 📹
  • Experiment #3: Device Specific Google Ad Campaigns📱

These experiments didn’t completely reinvent paid social or search strategy for any of our clients. They did help us learn and optimize quickly. At Tuff, we’re always running experiments that are small, smart variations in Facebook and Google to help us deliver the absolute best results.

As a paid advertising expert, the onslaught of new techniques makes me feel giddy with excitement and possibility. New things to test? Let’s do it! But as an entrepreneur or small business owner, it can be a bit intimidating.

Let’s dive in.

Facebook Messenger Ads

In Ads Manager, there are a handful of core ad formats:

  • carousels
  • single image ads
  • product collections
  • Slideshows
  • videos

They are the core suite of ad formats for Facebook and Instagram. You’ve been seeing them in your Facebook feed for years.

One of the newest ad formats to roll out are Facebook Messenger Ads. This new format promotes engagement by allowing users who see your ads to initiate a message with your business with the click of a button.

These are all designed for advertisers to start conversations with users and drive interactions and sales. Facebook Messenger Ads appear in your Facebook feed like a typical ad, but the CTA says “Send Message”.

This month, we ran Facebook Messenger ads for three clients – B2B, B2C, and e-Commerce. Take a look:

A screenshot of a paid advertising messenger experiment for Xendoo.
A screenshot of a paid advertising messenger experiment for Xendoo.
A screenshot of a paid advertising messenger experiment for The Buy Guys.
A screenshot of a paid advertising messenger experiment for The Buy Guys.

The main use of these ads is pretty simple: To generate real, organic conversations with your customers.

For us, we saw successful results with prospecting and retargeting audiences. Here’s a glance at the data from the most successful campaign:

Facebook Advertising metrics screenshot.

Facebook Messenger Ads present a unique opportunity to chat with your users or prospects in a more conversational way. You can personalize your messages like you would on LinkedIn with a sponsored InMail and you can reach people where they are already spending time. And if you’re a local business this ad format has the potential to help you build localized brand awareness.

The kicker here is being able to scale these efforts while reducing spam. With the good leads come the bad on this medium. With this initial batch of experiments, about 50% of these messages were spam and the ones with high-volume required a full-time resource to be at the ready answering messages and talking with people.

If you’re already running campaigns on Facebook, why not test these out as part of your mix? Facebook Messenger Ads allow you to speed up and personalize customer interactions, and reaching people faster is key in today’s crowded marketing environment.

Responsive Display Video Ads

Google announced earlier this year that you can now add YouTube video assets to Google responsive display ad (RDA) campaigns.

Every one of our clients is running display campaigns on Google, so we jumped right on this! If you’re already running display ads you’re probably pretty familiar with responsive ads and how they work.

If you’re less familiar with display ad formats, let me break it down. Google Ads is split into two primary networks, the Search Network, and the Display Network. A simplified explanation:

  • Search Network: businesses place text ads in the search engine results
  • Display Network: businesses place display ads on a huge network of sites across the internet

We like to think of the display network as being more similar to channels like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. As an advertiser, you can use more visual layouts and the stage of the user journey is often top- to mid-funnel versus lower high-internet searches on the Search Network.

Screenshot of a display network ad.
Screenshot of a display network ad from Spotify.

Display ads can be static images or responsive. Static images, like the ones above, fit specific ad units on publisher sites. They appear as banner ads on websites and never as text. They also don’t adjust in size.

Responsive display ads on the other hand automatically adjust their size and format to fit different ad placements across the web. This means that your responsive display can display as a text ad within a mobile app while also appearing as a banner ad on a website.

Screenshot of a responsive display ad

Last fall, Google announced responsive display ads would become the default display format. This means we’re going to see more and more advancements made to the responsive format and as an advertiser, it will be important to stay on top of these features.

Screenshot of a responsive display network ad.

Since adding videos to our current responsive display campaigns, we’re seeing an average increase in CTR by 25%.

Incremental improvements, people!

Device specific Google Ad campaigns

These days, the initial touchpoint with your brand typically happens on a mobile device – it’s the “go to” source for browsing and online conversations.

As a result, the more you can treat mobile as the first step in your paid advertising strategy – not as an afterthought or a nice to have – the better.

Traditionally, when it comes to mobile, I’ve leveraged two key features in Google Ads: Call-Only ads and device level bid adjustments.

Call-only ads are designed to encourage people to call your business and can appear only on devices that make phone calls. When a potential customer or clients clicks your ad, the ad places a call to you from their device. These can be super effective for local businesses or companies trying to make the phone ring.

Screenshot of a call-only ad.

Device bid adjustments are levers you can pull to flow money to specific devices: mobile, desktop, tablet, and TV. For example, a bid adjustment of -90% reduces the bid by 90%, to 10% of the original bid. Likewise, +900% increases the device bid to ten times the original amount.

Screenshot of a device bid adjustment ad.

More recently though, I’ve started to think about the search intent of a mobile users versus a desktop. For example, we have a B2B client and their paid traffic breaks down like this: almost 60% of visits are on mobile, but 65% of sign ups are on desktop. So, what do we do?

The obvious answer is to think more critically about the user experience on mobile. We need to find out why they are converting, where they are dropping off, and how we can eliminate more friction on the mobile sign up process.

The other thing we can do and the experiment we’ve implemented this month is to completely break out certain adgroups into device specific campaigns. We’ll have one campaign for mobile and a completely different campaign for desktop.

Why try this? While you could look at the data and decided to bid down mobile drastically and push all traffic to desktop, there is a bigger opportunity here. We don’t want to lose our audience on mobile but we also don’t want to be wasteful and spend money on clicks that don’t convert.

By breaking specific campaigns out into different ad groups by device, we can:

  • Adjust bids based on device schedule: Certain devices are more effective with different ad schedules and location targeting. Our mobile PPC traffic has a tendency to spike on weekends and in evening/commuter hours and desktop peaks midday. By running single-device PPC campaigns, we can control bids and schedules more accurately.
  • Have more control over budget: Creating device-specific campaigns allows us to allocate a bigger budget to the better performing device campaign. In the example above, our CTRs are similar but we can assign more overall budget to the desktop campaign where we are seeing scale.

We let testing and experimentation play a major role in our account management process because it’s critical to results. We don’t always have the right answers but we’re lucky to partner with teams that let us push the limits and test out new ideas. It can be intimidating at first, put regularly PPC experimentation should be a consistent piece of your game plan whether you are running campaigns yourself or outsourcing to an agency.

Free Growth Strategy Session

Our team at Tuff loves helping people learn and use these tools. And, run paid advertising experiments of your own! If you ever have any questions or new strategies you’re looking to explore, join us for a free growth strategy session.