3 Principles For Successful Online Ad Campaigns

I’d like to share 3 principles for online advertising that I frequently see marketers (especially new marketers) get wrong. Let’s jump right in:

1 – Create & Test Ads That Are Radically Different From One Another

It is important to create and test ads that are as different as possible from one another. There are two reasons for this:

  • Reason #1: Small differences from one ad to the next usually mean small differences in how they perform. Big, dramatic differences from one ad to the next frequently result in big, dramatic differences in how they perform. If you want the increase the chances of hitting a home run with one of your ads, go for big differences.
  • Reason #2: When have a big performance difference between your ads, it will take less time, and a smaller budget, to determine the best performing ad.

Example A: Let’s say you’ve split-tested two similar-looking ads. After 10,000 impressions for each of them, Ad A has received 85 clicks, and Ad B has received 90 clicks. Which is the best performing ad in terms of CTR? The answer is: You don’t know – the numbers are too close to make any conclusions! You’re going to need to spend a lot more time (and money) running the ads to get statistically significant data.

Example B: Let’s say that your ads looked radically different from each other and therefore got very different CTRs. After 10,000 impressions each, Ad A has received 30 clicks, and Ad B has received 170 clicks. In this scenario Ad B is the clear winner in terms of CTR. Ad B also got a high CTR that you would likely never have gotten if you had only tested a few subtle variations on Ad A.

There IS a time to test smaller tweaks to your ads. The time is after you have already determined a high performing ad and want to improve it even further. But don’t miss out on your chance to discover that high performing ad in the first place!

2 – Beautiful Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Better!

Ugly and unprofessional looking ads frequently perform better than beautiful professional-looking ads.

It’s anyone’s guess as to why ugly ads work well; mine is that they stand out more. “Banner blindness” kicks in when your banners look too much like all the other banners that people are constantly seeing.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen an ad that looks like it was designed in MS Paint by a 5 year old outperform a slick professional ad that looks like it was designed by Michelangelo.

New affiliate marketers sometimes get discouraged because they can’t design ads that look as good as the ones provide by a merchant. Don’t worry about looks; worry about performance. And don’t assume anything about how your ads will perform – test them to find out – you’ll be surprised at how hard it is to predict which ones will perform best.

3 – Click Through Rates Matter… But Conversion Rates Matter More

There seems to be an undue obsession with CTRs among many internet marketers.

The CTRs of your ads certainly ARE important. Ads with higher CTRs generate more traffic and can also mean lower CPCs (depending on your ad network). But CTRs are not the most important statistic to look at.


Say that you’re split testing two ads…

  • Ad A has a 1% CTR and a CPC of $0.50.
  • Ad B has a 2% CTR and a CPC of $0.25.

You’re paying half as much per click for Ad B so at first glance it looks like Ad B is better, and it might be. But it also might not be. If you look at your conversion rates you might see that Ad B has a 1% conversion rate (per click) whereas Ad A has a 5% conversion rate (per click).

Let’s look at the math. Say you spend $100 on clicks for each ad:

  • Ad A (CPC $0.50) gets 200 clicks from the $100. With its 5% conversion rate, Ad A generates 10 conversions from its 200 clicks.
  • Ad B (CPC $0.25) gets 400 clicks from the $100. With its 1% conversion rate, Ad A generates 4 conversions from its 400 clicks.

Do you see what happened? You spent $100 on each ad, and Ad A got more conversions even though it had a lower CTR.

Conversions (not CTR) are what ultimately determine your return on investment, and that’s what really matters!

Wrapping Up

Remember the internet marketer’s mantra: Test, test, test! Constantly testing new ads and optimizing your campaigns is the only way to lasting success.

To view case studies from campaigns that other internet marketers have run, check out AdChop.com. AdChop shares case studies from a variety of sources, including campaigns that promoted Clickbank products.

Justin Clark is an affiliate marketer who runs AdChop.com, a growing collection of internet marketing case studies.