The PPC Show

When to Say No to Testing with 3Q’s Caitlin Halpert

Are your clients complaining about their ads appearing on Breitbart or other controversial websites? Are you wondering when to say no to testing (or if that's even OK)? This episode of The PPC Show with Caitlin Halpert is here to help.

Caitlin is Sr. Director, Client Services at 3Q Digital. She’s a search person at heart and is sitting down with the AdStage crew to discuss when not to test, how to approach your testing a little differently, and what your new testing “mantra” should be. Check out a few of the highlights below, and give the full episode a listen here.

When to Say No to Testing

1. “Consider what you’re really trying to get out of your tests.” Caitlin urges marketers to consider what’s required for a test to be useful and whether the results will be usable in the future. If it’s a holiday test or a one-off campaign, is that a smart use of your time and budget? This is a good example of when to say no to testing. You may also get different performance results based on where you’re running ads, which may not be reflective of the ad itself.

2. “Responsive Ads are a really smart solution from Google.” Drop in an image or two, add text and Google will automatically resize it to fit all of their ad inventory. Caitlin explains that historically, Google had so many different ad sizes, it wasn’t particularly practical to have your design team making every variation available. Now you can create one or two images and enjoy a much better and more efficient way to advertise using the Google Display Network.

3. “Don’t run tests too long.” Set your end deadline, move forward with a winner, and always know what your next test will be. Caitlin also encourages marketers to make a big change in their ads if testing doesn’t yield statistical significance. Instead of tweaking copy or design slightly, try testing a whole new ad. The more different your ad is, the more likely you are to get definitive results from your testing.

4. “Get out of the mindset of a perfect testing environment.” You’ll always pick a winner, even if there’s not a winner, warns Caitlin. While this sometimes defeats the purpose of statistical significance, relying on your intuition, on occasion, is natural. Just make sure you understand that the times you make a decision based on data are different from when you make a decision based on intuition. Sometimes an ad that “won” in your A/B tests doesn’t perform best across all your audiences. That’s when intuition can be helpful in adjusting your ads and your ad testing.

5. “Don’t fear the bots taking over your job!” Caitlin believes there are many places where unique targeting will need to be available moving forward, so there’s no reason to fear the bots! Many brands don’t want to share their data with Google and Facebook, so there won’t be anything for these large media companies to optimize on.

6. “Instead of having ‘always be testing’ as your mantra, go with ‘always be questioning.’” Don’t just follow the best practices, Caitlin says. Instead, think through what makes sense in each individual client case and tailor your strategy to their unique needs.

Brand Safety + Breitbart

1. “Google needs to do more around brand safety.” Caitlin believes there’s little incentive for Google to work on brand safety. It needs to be a marketing problem that they face, she says. It can’t just be about companies upset that their ads are showing up on Breitbart. She also warns about going too far in the other direction. 3Q has had groups send them ads they know were doctored to look as though they appeared on sites like Breitbart, even though 3Q knew the ads weren’t running at the time.

2. “Negative site targeting is like sticking your finger in a leaky bucket.” Adding a single exclusion for Breitbart (or a list of 200 sites, like 3Q has) isn’t going to fix the problem of having your ads appear on controversial websites. There’s not a way for media buyers to control new sites like this popping up, that kind of action has to come from Google.

3. “You’ve got to be where your customers are.” The fixation on negative site targeting is rather new. Previously, ads only appeared on Breitbart to people reading and agreeing with Breitbart. As political climates have shifted and sites like Breitbart have been thrust into the spotlight, people are trying to figure out what this site is and who it’s targeting. New audiences are visiting these sites, finding themselves disgusted with the content, and then seeing brands they love advertising there. That’s why this is a problem now. You’ve got to be where your customers are, and if they’re visiting controversial sites, that’s where your ads are going to be!  

Want to hear the rest of The PPC Show with Caitlin Halpert, including more on when to say no to testing? Listen to the full podcast episode below. 


AdStage Team