Which Ad Was the Winner?
Can you spot which ad out performed the other?

There are a lot of people in the advertising industry who hate this.

It’s the same as students who hate tests or athletes who don’t want to look at the scoreboard.

Some people don’t like the accountability of measured results. Many advertising types prefer to talk about vague terms such as “creativity” or “visual impact.” Bring up the subject of results and they often look like scared rabbits.

Frankly, I love measured results. Sue, it can be tough on the ego at times. But it eliminates a lot of guesswork and helps assure that campaigns are effective. After all, marketing should be a bottom-line activity.

Recently, we conducted some tests using local Facebook ads and I’d like to share the results.

The technique we used is called “split testing.”

Split testing is a powerful strategy for increasing the effectiveness of advertising. Two versions of an ad are created. One half of your target group see one version of an ad. The other half see the alternate version.

By tracking the number of responses you can determine which ad is more effective. You then use the one that generates the best results in your future advertising.

Split testing can help compare different selling appeals, prices, and just about any aspect of your product or service. By using Google or Facebook ads, you can get results quickly and with a minimum amount of money being invested.

In this case, the client was a dental practice looking to attract new patients. The service being offered was a teeth whitening program.

Test number one

For the first test, identical headlines and body copy were used. What was being tested was the image. In one, we focused on a close up of woman with an attractive smile. The second image was a close up of just a beautiful smile.

Which do you think did a better job of attracting people who wanted to whiten their teeth? Here are the two options that were tested:

Results: The ad with the full face pulled 400% better than the ad with just the close-up of the smile.

Test number two

The next test compared two different headlines. The first used the “A Whiter Smile For Summer” headline. The second used “Whiten Your Smile for $99.” Again, the only difference between the two ads was the headline.

Which do you think got better results?

Results: The headline “Whiten Your Smile for $99” pulled 53% better than the headline, “A Whiter Smile For Summer.” It appears that bringing the specific price up into the headline added a “deal” factor to the ad that made it more compelling.

This then became our new winner and the ad to beat. (This is called “the control” in direct response advertising terms.)

Test number three

For the next test, we compared an image of a pleasant older couple against our control. All other factors were kept the same. Would both a man and woman with great smiles generate more responses than a single woman?

Results: Again, the image with the smiling woman produced better results, yielding a 53% better response rate.

At this point we decided we should give the smiling woman a name. We decided on “Melissa.” It was much easier than constantly saying “the pleasant, smiling, blonde woman.”

Test number four

Next, Melissa had to defend her top spot against an attractive younger woman. Again, the only difference was the image. All other factors were kept the same.

Results: The new woman did quite well, out pulling all of our other tested ads. However, she was unable to do better than Melissa. Melissa out pulled the challenger by 57%.

So, as our “control” Melissa continues to run. We plan to continue to test her against other images, including; an attractive younger couple, an attractive man, and women of different ethnicities.

Testing – the key to results

One thing that becomes crystal clear through testing is that different selling messages and images get different results. If you are not tracking your results and testing new appeals, you are not getting the best yield from your marketing.

By using tools such as Google Adwords or Facebook, it is possible to get tangible results in days. They are very fast tools for measuring the effectiveness of different ads. By building on what works best, you can enhance the results your marketing generates.

In working with a wide range of clients over many years, our team has learned a number of proven factors that consistently make ads more effective. This allows us to get better results more quickly.

Remember, the greatest leverage point you have for growing your business is to enhance your creative selling message. The best way to know what works is to test and measure your results.

If you haven’t done so already, make testing a key part of your marketing strategy.

To your business success,


Are you looking to raise the effectiveness of your marketing? The first step is to have a conversation. (800) 595-1288 to schedule a no-obligation telephone meeting. Or, simply send an e-mail.

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Richard Wilson is the Founder/Chief Marketing Strategist for Sentium Strategic Communications which helps companies craft the right message for extraordinary results. Over the past 33 years, his clients
have ranged from startups to major technology companies.


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