Ad Copy Display URL Test: The Five D’s of Testing

One of the most important aspects of a search engine marketing account manager’s job is testing. Sometimes clients are limited in how they can change their ad copy messaging, so we need to get creative with what kind of tests we want to run. One aspect of ad copy that doesn’t affect the main message of the ad is the display URL. Although it doesn’t change the main message there are different URL variations that may affect how consumers interact with the ad.

It wasn’t until the Elite SEM NYC office entered a marketing agency dodgeball tournament that I developed new rules for digital marketing A/B testing. We were rookies in the tourney, so I realized we had to come up with a good game plan in order to have a fighting chance.

Whom did we turn to for advice? Patches O’Houlihan from the movie, Dodgeball who followed the five D’s of dodgeball, “Dodge, Duck, Dip, Dive and Dodge.” These rules helped the film’s rookie team win their tournament and helped my team finish in the Final Four. After the tournament ended I realized that these five rules could be applied to my SEM job functions.

Working in digital advertising we are constantly exploring new test ideas, but the question is: what do you do after you set up the test?

My game plan – or the five D’s of search engine marketing – is Develop, Dissect, Decode, Deploy, and Develop.

  • Develop Test: Set up organized A/B test
  • Dissect: Download and analyze data metrics
  • Decode: Develop actionable insights from data and determine winning variable
  • Deploy: Implement changes to account
  • Develop Test: Start new experiment

The first test I ran after developing this new game plan was a display URL test for my flash-deal website client. To follow my new testing rules, the first step was to set up the test I wanted to run. The client and I came up with a small A/B ad copy test, to see if a display URL’s word order would impact click-through-rate (CTR). The two ad copies I tested were exactly the same except for the display URL, which was the original versus the test

Within this A/B test we used 82 vendors from the deal site to get broad brand coverage. After the test was live for 30 days I followed step two: analyzing my data. This analysis showed that the test display URL had an average CTR of 4.31% versus the control display URL average CTR of 2.97%. Next was the third step of interpreting the data. I concluded that there was a 45% increase in CTR, which is a substantial difference. The last step in my rules for testing is implementation, and after sharing the results with the client, we implemented the test display URL as our new display URLs going forward.

In the below chart you will see that completed test results had over 5,000 clicks out of 135,000 impressions total — proving this was a significant test.

Display URL Clicks Impressions Cost CTR
Control 1,826 61,530 $2,876.55 2.97%
Test* 3,176 73,650 $4,765.39 4.31%


I applied the five D’s of testing to display URLs in an effort to improve my client’s click-through-rate. Implement these steps for your next test and watch the magic happen.

Ready, set, test!

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