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Google Image Ads AB Test – ‘Buy Now’ versus ‘Order Now’

google ads ab test

Understanding human behaviour (online and off) has always been an area of huge interest for me. AB testing is a great way to identify why some people do what they do…online at least.

What is an AB test?

An AB test is a test where you run two ad variations. To make the effects measurable you run two almost identical ads with one changing variable.

In the case of this test we are comparing the effects of using the call-to-actions (CTA) ‘Buy Now’ and ‘Order Now’.

What was the AB Test this time?

The idea of this test was to see if more people clicked on an image ad which read ‘Buy Now’ or ‘Oder Now’. Both variables are verbs, both instill urgency so which one would you guess is more successful?

If there’s one thing that running these tests have thought me it’s that you can never predict peoples behaviour  – you ALWAYS need to test.

Where did you run this AB test?

For this test I was displaying two almost identical ads on Google’s ad platform – Google Adwords.

The images below are just one size variation but I did upload 9 diffrerent variations for each campaign.

The ad was run in the weeks leading up to Christmas 2011, hence the theme.

What did the ads look like?

Google ads AB Test

Buy Now version

google ads ab test

Order Now version


So, what were the test results?

The image below is a snippet from my adwords campaign:



google ad ab test results


From this we can see that both ads were ranked excellently  (an adverage position of  1).

The CTR (click through rate, number of times the ad was clicked on for the amount it was shown) is quite low, 0.08% and 0.16%. This is natural enough as these campaigns were displayed across Google’s display network.

We also enabled Google Remarketing, this is a practice where our ad follow you online if you visit our site…I still have mixed opinions on this but I’ll run with it for the moment.


So who’s the winner of the AB test?

The ‘Buy Now’ ad was displayed slightly less (270,441 times) but was clicked on TWICE as much! The only difference that caused double the clicks was the verb on the ad, ‘Buy Now’.

What’s also quite interesting is that Google had a current adverage price on this ad which was 21% cheaper. The money is a bit irrellivent in this example as it’s small but imagine the difference on a large campaign!