As a veteran search engine marketer, you may have inadvertently adopted erroneous beliefs about SEM ad creative that are leading to missed competitive opportunities and stunted performance. To help break this curse, we developed the blog series, “Myth Busters for SEM Creative,” aimed at debunking false assumptions about SEM ad creative. The series covers myths around three major themes: The purpose of ad testing, messaging and positioning, and executing ad optimizations.


The purpose of ad creative testing

We all know we’re supposed to continually test. More testing is good. But why? Understanding the purpose behind testing helps get more benefit from your existing testing efforts, and can improve testing prioritization.


Creative Doesn’t Matter For Conversion Rate Optimization

  • Ad creative impacts conversion rates. Creative qualifies customers—it attracts different individual customers who convert at different rates; SEM ad creative sets expectations; and creative optimization increases baseline performance.
  • Reexamine how you measure success. Evaluate winning ads based on conversions-per-impression and revenue-per-impression to balance the volume versus quality generated by your ads.

You Can’t Gain Creative Insights from SEM Ad Copy Testing

  • Creative insights are possible. If you design and manage testing properly, you not only get stronger performance, but actionable creative insights to inform your marketing program beyond the scope of SEM.
  • Think outside the box with testing. Challenge yourself to test vastly different ads. Seek both creative insights and improved performance simultaneously when testing SEM ad copy.

SEM Ad Copy— Set it and Forget It

  • Regular SEM ad testing leads to cumulative gains. Refreshing creative and testing frequently are required to extract the highest performance from your campaigns.
  • Prioritize your testing. Remember to pause the losing ads, and when writing new ads, consider going out on a limb to test radically new ways of messaging.


Messaging and positioning

Textual relevance between keywords and ads is just one component of a successful SEM ad. Optimized messaging reaches and qualifies the right customers, connects with them on an emotional level, and primes them to take action.


Emotion Doesn’t Belong in SEM Ad Creative

  • Connect with customers more deeply. Appeal to emotions through concise SEM messaging at critical decision points along the purchase process.
  • Understand why people perform searches. Make sure your ad creative is both textually and emotionally relevant to move the KPI needle. Even in 95 characters, a search marketer can write emotionally resonant ad creative that differentiates a brand from the competition.

One-Size-Fits-All for Desktop and Mobile Ads

  • Maximize mobile opportunity. Brands with optimized mobile ad creative gain an edge on the competition. Users are jaded by poor mobile experiences, so keeping up with the evolution of mobile user behavior can go a long way.
  • Test mobile creative. Understand the user context and develop customized ads to deliver what they’re looking for. Test mobile-specific calls-to-action and let users know that you are ready to deliver an optimal mobile experience.

The Lowest Price Wins in SEM Ads

  • There’s more to price than price itself. Word choice sets price expectations. Although “bargain,” “value,” and “sale” can be used synonymously, people subconsciously assign different meanings to each word.
  • Develop your overall price strategy through testing. Instead of competing on price alone, consider other ways your brand adds value better than the competition—test on different price verbiage.


Implementing ad optimizations

As a senior marketer, you learned long ago about targeting, settings, and the basics like how to measure ad copy test results. It seems like there isn’t much more to learn operationally. But take another look: Some of your assumptions around the best way to execute ad creative optimizations may be holding you back.


Conversion Rate is the Best Metric for Measuring Ad Copy Test Results

  • Get more value out of ad copy tests. As a direct-response marketer, it can be tempting to choose the ad with the highest conversion rate as the winner. But with a slight adjustment to testing methodology, you can make better optimizations decisions.
  • Balance volume versus efficiency. Use KPI metrics like CPI that account for both volume and quality when determining ad copy test winners.

Dynamic Keyword Insertion (DKI) is Bad

  • DKI can boost performance. When used in the right context, DKI can help gain impressions you might not otherwise win; improve your user experience and quality score in ad groups you don’t have time to optimize; and can lead to performance gains.
  • Test DKI for yourself. Be careful to measure DKI performance separately between head-term ad groups and long-tail ad groups. Evaluate winning ads not just for conversion rates, but also for volume.

Default Ad Rotation Settings Are Good Enough

  • Ad rotation settings impact performance. There are little-known facts and nuances about ad rotation settings that dramatically impact performance, especially the “Optimize for Clicks” and “Optimize for Conversions” options.
  • Test your ad rotation settings. Proper attention and testing of ad rotation settings can bring you one step closer to maximizing conversion volume and revenue from paid search.


There you have it. SEM ad creative myths—busted.

With these myths dispelled surrounding the purpose of ad testing, messaging and positioning, and executing ad optimizations, now there is nothing holding you back from improving performance through creative testing and maximizing the value you realize from testing.



About Boost Media

Boost Media increases advertiser profitability by using a combination of humans and a proprietary software platform to drive increased ad relevance at scale.

The Boost marketplace comprises over 1,000 expert copywriters and image optimizers who compete to provide a diverse array of perspectives. Boost’s proprietary software identifies opportunities for creative optimization and drives performance using a combination of workflow tools and algorithms. Headquartered in San Francisco, the Boost Media optimization platform provides fresh, performance-driven creative in 12 localized languages worldwide.