How To Test Your Ad Copy Like Spock (5 Ways)

By Jeremy Page | @jerpage | Product Development Manager at Hanapin Marketing

Leonard Nimoy may have left us, but his most famous character’s wisdom will always be with us. Nimoy’s Spock is nothing short of a guru; he represents a way of life in which you can handle anything if you just keep your cool, use your smarts, and focus on the job.

I don’t claim to be a Trekkie and I definitely don’t know all of the Star Trek movies by name, but I do know Spock would have been insanely good PPC and Ad Testing. With his all logic, mind reading, super grip going on, he could read minds, knock out punks with a … and he had those killer pointy ears

In memory of Nimoy, let’s take a look back at 5 of Spock’s finest quotes and what we can learn from him.


1) “One can begin to reshape the landscape with a single flower.”



When tackling a problem Spock was more finesse than sledgehammer. He was often quietly working behind the scenes while Kirk was off chasing girls and wrestling with lizard men. Why? Because he knew he could make a big impact by using logic to explore the small areas others had glossed over.


Ad testing isn’t something you should do, it’s something you have to do to. Don’t have time to do ad copy testing? You don’t have to run a ton of ad tests to make a huge impact on your campaigns. Simply select one or two high spending ad groups and top keywords, then determine your testing goals. Once you know what you want, you can customize the tests for the goal and will know exactly what to look for in the results. You’ll have new ads outperforming your old ones in no time!


2) “Insufficient facts always invite danger.”



Trying to find some information about the era they’re in, Spock uses his tricorder to basically invent the Internet. Spock’s research yielded an important fact about Kirk’s new girlfriend (played by Joan Collins). Unfortunately for Joan, the future of human civilization depends on her dying in a car accident, but Spock teaches us it’s always good to research the lay of the land.


With ad testing it’s often too easy to get lost in the weeds. In order to have have a successful ad test it’s essential to keep track of which campaigns or ad groups you’re testing in and avoid making changes areas that could alter the test. Your variables need to stay as consistent as possible.


Don’t let your new aggressive bidding strategy fool you into thinking your ads are now somehow groundbreaking or let something like seasonality trick you. Take a few minutes to map out the campaigns landscape so you’re not caught off guard.


If for some reason you do need to make changes, be certain to mark down when and where those changes where made. That way you’ll still get use out of your ad testing data and won’t have to start from scratch.


3) “In critical moments, men sometimes see exactly what they wish to see.”



In the episode, The Tholian Web, the Enterprise approaches the last reported location of the star ship Defiant. Soon after entering the lost ship the crew of the Enterprise starts hallucinating and assumes their fellow crew members are out to get them. Spock uneasily takes over as Captain and waits until he has more information before deciding what to do despite Dr. McCoy badgering him to make a faster decision.


Don’t let your gut feeling overrule test results. The winners in A/B or multivariate ad tests are often surprising or unintuitive. Far too often testers wait until an ad test has 1000 impressions and consider that an appropriate sample size, to this Spock raises his cosmetically enhanced eyebrows.


Most of us in PPC are well aware our tests need an appropriate sample size, but what we aren’t always so great at is knowing at what point we can conclude an ad test.


To ensure you are making snap judgement find Ad Copy Testing Significance Levels Through Excel Testing.


Bottom line, don’t act unless you have enough data to be reasonably sure of what to do after your ad testing.


4) “When you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”



Okay, so Spock straight up stole this saying from Sherlock Holmes, but it still rings true.


Whenever Spock beamed down to a new planet, he always had with him his handy-dandy tricorder, a little handheld device he used to navigate, scan his surroundings, and look up information.


Different types of campaigns can have wildly different results, so don’t let bad performance in one combine with great performance in another to make middling data.  Create meaningful aggregations to provide insights.


When trying to get an overview of ad text you may find it useful to break your ads into campaign types:

  • Branded
  • Non-Branded Search
  • Remarketing
  • Non-Remarketing Display


(And if you want to get even more specific, competitors campaigns should probably be broken out from non-branded search.) People have been breaking performance out by network for a long time, but it’s similarly important to break out campaign groups within those networks.  Don’t let Branded campaigns skew the true performance of your ads.


5) “Change is the essential process of all existence.”



Writing creative ad text can be a daunting task to super analytical PPC Managers. But, it’s important to refresh and continue to test your ad copy. In the long-run, it’ll improve your CTR. As you know, a better CTR is a better QS and a lower CPC.


Once you’ve identified which ad groups present the best opportunities for improvement, you simply go into each ad group and create a second ad which will “compete” with the first.


Chances are your ads all have pretty similar copy in the description lines 1 and 2, with the biggest difference being the headline.


Since your headline will match as closely as possible what the user is searching for, what you should aim to do is create alternate variations of your ads which have the same headline, but different description lines 1 and 2.


A/B testing is all about gaining insights into customer intent. Calibrate your copy to find out if your customers are:

  1. Price conscious: Are your customers motivated by price? Try showing a $dollar amount in your ad.
  2. Service conscious: Have you tried putting a phone number on your ads, either in the ad copy or via an ad extension (see below for more on ad extensions)?
  3. Quality conscious: Have you tried focusing on the superior quality of your products? Phrases like “long lasting” or “superior construction” indicate that your product may be better value, even if it’s more expensive than your competitors
  4. Risk averse: Try offering a guarantee, or free shipping/returns to reduce risk.


“Live Long and Prosper.”


Lastly, the one thing we know to ring true about Spock is that he always used the latest and greatest technology to conduct his research. If you’re looking for easier ways to test your existing ads and you’re new Ad Copy, there are loads of ad testing tools like AdAlysis that help hone your ad testing skills.