ReTargeter Blog

3 Simple A/B Tests to Optimize Your Banner Ads

A/B testing isn’t new to the digital marketing industry, and marketers in a variety of industries use it to improve email campaigns, web and landing pages, banner ads, and more.

Marketing tests are incredibly powerful and particularly important for display advertisers. But even if you believe in the value of testing, the seemingly endless list of testable elements can be overwhelming, especially if you’re just getting started with marketing experimentation. It’’s not easy to know where you should begin.

Here are three tests you can implement quickly to start learning more about your ads and improving performance:

1. Calls-to-Action

Calls-to-action are one of the most important elements of any banner ad. Even if you aren’t optimizing for clicks (and you shouldn’t be), having an effective CTA can dramatically improve your campaign performance.

The best CTA for your audience may not be what you think. In some cases, a stronger, pushier CTA like ‘Buy Now’ or ‘Act Fast’ may be the most effective. In other cases, a softer call like ‘Learn More’ may resonate more. The only way to find out for sure is to test.

Pitting your existing CTA against a dramatically different one is a simple test that can result in major improvements in performance. Just be sure to stick to best practices and leave the rest of the banner the same —if you’re changing the CTA text, leave everything, even the surrounding button the same. Otherwise, you won’’t be able to determine which element of your ad is responsible for the resulting change in performance

2. Colors, Images, and Backgrounds

There’s conflicting evidence as to whether you should include a photo, graphical element or plain background as the backdrop to your display ads.

As is usually the case with banner advertising, there’s no such thing as a “right answer.” A photograph might out-perform a graphical element, or a simple textured or brightly colored background may outperform both. Leaving the copy alone, testing specific graphical elements of an ad can yield impressive results.

If you’re looking for a smaller test, something as simple as changing a background color or even the color of a CTA button can also be highly effective.

3. Value Proposition

Your banner ads almost definitely don’t include very much copy. Given the limited real estate available, you’re typically limited to one value proposition or headline and two to three bullets at the most.

If your banners are focused on explaining your value proposition, testing slight variations, even without changing the core message, can still result in dramatic changes in performance.

We took two versions of the same concept, simplifying retargeting, and wrote two headlines: ‘Retargeting Made Simple’ and ‘Retargeting Made Easy.’ Out in the wild, ‘Retargeting Made Simple’ out-performed ‘Retargeting Made Easy, ‘ yielding a CTR of .26% vs. the other’ CTR of .22%.

Though the difference in meaning is negligible, we were still able to see an increase in visits to our landing pages.


There’s no reason to put off getting started with A/B tests. It’s one very simple practice that can help you get more value from many aspects of your business, especially display.



Case Study – Watters

Watters Logo | ReTargeter

Watters is the brainchild of designer Vatana Watters. For over 30 years, it has been the leader in offering luxurious designer bridal gowns, innovative bridesmaids dresses, classic special occasion dresses for mothers of the wedding, and adorable dresses for flower girls and junior bridesmaids around the world. Selling primarily at trunk shows and in third-party […]

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