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Google AdWords Landing Page Website Optimizer

     
12:30 am on Oct 19, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Google unleashed another web tracking service today, with an interesting twist. It allows you to create multiple versions of your landing page (and others?), then compares the stats allowing you to adapt thus, hopefully improving your site. As is the norm it has entered the long google beta, and while its too early perhaps to ask for people's opinion lol, I do have a couple questions.
Will this tool show you anything you can't already see by using Google Analytics and various other tools? Who has time to setup a half dozen (the reports screen shot showed 22 I believe) different variations of a landing page? Is this the next gen the community needs? I look at stats, and react accordingly, if everyone is missing an important link or dropping off at stage 3 of 5 before a conversion can be made, I try something new. From what I can see you'll now be able to try multiple strategies together, but could this not also hurt your site? A landing page is very important, so you try 5 varietys and lose 200 visitors to a bad one, quickly swap it out but not before the loss. I am curious as to what others feel or predict the usefullness of such a tool can and will be. btw sorry if my post is too long or asks to much, tis my first Webmaster World Post :)
8:38 am on Oct 19, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for letting us know. I can't even access the "classic" analytics, though - tried repeatedly in the past 12 hours, seems off in the UK.
11:26 am on Oct 19, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Website Optimizer is a free and self-service tool. Without extensive experience or resources, you can run multivariate experiments on landing page content, including headlines, promotional copy, and images.

[services.google.com...]

12:05 pm on Oct 19, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I don't see this as a negative. I think it gives great scope to running several pages to assess which has the best performance conversions before selecting the right one. In my opinion this is only good news.
1:22 pm on Oct 19, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Basically this is giving all Adwords advertisers access to the tools that were previously only available to advertisers with skilled programmers or the resources to buy an off the shelf testing system. My guess is that this will drive bids up ever so slightly as a result of the increased conversion rate (and thus increased profitability) that the average advertiser will experience.

As far as I can tell this is a pretty basic testing system though. There are better methods and tools for optimizing landing pages (nothing can beat solid integration with your website's back end). I'm also pretty sure this system isn't using the Taguchi method, which many believe to be the best method for optimising landing pages. I haven't actually used Google's landing page optimiser yet, so my guess is based completely on what I could gather from the demo.

All in all I think this is a very welcome addition.

1:23 pm on Oct 19, 2006 (gmt 0)

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We've been playing with our own A/B testing for a while now and found it really useful in measuring changes, but its also presented quite a few challenges. There is a lot of knowledge required in deciding when to finish a test, knowing when a difference is significant and most importantly, knowing what is worth testing, and this is something that I don't think we have got completely right yet after lots of practice. It will be interesting to see how Google deals with these questions - the demo doesn't really show too much.

We also have a problem in that although our traffic is reasonably high volume, its not exactly Amazon, so it does take a while to reach statistical significance on many more subtle changes - I wonder how well this will work for smaller sites who have reasonably low numbers of page views. Or will it just let the user decide when the numbers "feel" good, which would be rather pointless.

Its an interesting direction for Google to go though... I guess its another data collection exercise on their part?

1:26 pm on Oct 19, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Good point SiteOrigin - increased conversions equals higher PPC ROI equals more available advertising revenue. So maybe its not just a data collection exercise! :-)
2:19 pm on Oct 19, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Hi,

My approach, when I can do it, is not to "finish" a test, but continue to randomly and at low rates sample the "discarded" C/D/E/... cases to see if any of them start to perform again. Eventually I may discard the tail of the very poor performers to reduce clutter.

Practical cases in point:

1) I rarely delete my AdWords ads unless they have disasterous CTR and cost-per-conversion relative (say) to the top 25%. After all, variety helps combat ad-blindness and what works one day, or for one part of your target audience, may not work for another. I choose the AW "optimise" option to show the "poor" ads very little so it doesn't do me any significant harm at worst. (I do delete ads that become "wrong", eg with broken landing URLs.)

2) I continually rotate/test page/ad layouts, though clearly show the best-performing most of the time. I do sample all possible layout combinations for my site randomly. And some really astonishing (to me) successful combinations have emerged over time and helped increase my eCPM 5x. That test is not going to stop, on the grounds that conditions may change again; the continual testing should help locate a new optimum automatically.

In any case,having more tools to help test objectively is good.

Rgds

Damon

2:28 pm on Oct 19, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Wawaweewah!

I know there are some companies that are worried this morning. This is a great tool. Let's see how well it works.

4:47 pm on Oct 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

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A Long time ago, when I had a web site that delivered 1MM page loads per day, I ran some test with a banner exchange.

back end info:
target market : 14 to 30 years old
test goal : what colors work for that target market
banner file size : 3K to 5K
banner dimensions : 468 x 60
all banners text was the same font and size
time of sample 1 month

all I did was change the color background
and had a total of 16 different banners.

What I learned was the following :
a) there were 3 very active colors
b) basic prime type colors don't work
c) shading ( don't recall the right word ) worked.

My best banner had a click rate of over 7.5% the next was about 4% and the one after that had 2.5%.

so I would guess that a company could run the same test with a landing page and optimise it just on the color results, the go about checking the feel of the site to get the proper click distance.

8:54 pm on Oct 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I'm reasonably certain the Website Optimizer team will be reading this thread from time to time (since I long ago sent them the link!), so I hope you'll weigh in with your comments - whether positive or negative.

Thanks in advance. ;)

AWA

11:30 pm on Oct 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

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MojoMike:
What I learned was the following :
a) there were 3 very active colors
b) basic prime type colors don't work
c) shading ( don't recall the right word ) worked.

What is 1MM pages views a day? 1 million main pages/month? 1 massive mega page/month? 1 mainframe melting page/month? Have not seen that acronym I must say. Interesting though that there would be a difference based on color alone however, that would be so pronounced at least.

It would be nice (and no I still have not signed up for the beta) if the software could adopt a survival of the fittest approach to under performers. Perhaps drop off the bottom 3 performers at a certain stage, it would be more/most helpful with the more variations you are running perhaps.

4:24 am on Oct 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

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this was way back when I owned a
music site that I sold ( I still
kick myself about that)

>>What is 1MM pages views a day?
good question, let me break it down.

1mm = 1,000,000
page views = full page loading + graphic ( banners and images ) across te entire web site.

>>1 million main pages/month?
don't recall the details

>>1 massive mega page/month? 1 mainframe melting page/month?
funny terms

>> Have not seen that acronym I must say.

MM acronym is what I learned in grammer school it a thousand thousand also as perr wiki = A confucing way for million

Interesting though that there would be a difference based on color alone however, that would be so pronounced at least.

It would be nice (and no I still have not signed up for the beta) if the software could adopt a survival of the fittest approach to under performers. Perhaps drop off the bottom 3 performers at a certain stage, it would be more/most helpful with the more variations you are running perhaps.

6:23 am on Oct 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

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sorry a small screw up .... anyway

>>Interesting though that there would be a difference based on color alone however, that would be so pronounced at least.

If you can get your hands on the Las Vegas Color Report produced for casinos, then you can see the revenue of different colors ( besides a ton of other stuff )

>>It would be nice (and no I still have not signed up for the beta) if the software could adopt a survival of the fittest approach to under performers.

I did it by hand, if I was in the game again, I would take my log files, dump them into excel. run a simple AI program ( easynn is an excel add on that I have used ) and run some simulation.

problem is that it's a ton of work for most people.

Mojomike

side note : re-read ( or read ) Matt Cutler's pdf E-metrics, it my e-business bible, best 60 pages I have read in a long time.

1:32 pm on Oct 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Seriously good job for a change Google.

This is the best tool in a long time that will help agencies add lots of value to clients re implementation & analysis.

Clients need this data but haven't a clue how to go about it. Companies like offermatica & vertster are not going to be happy.....

Well done
J

1:40 pm on Oct 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

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DamonHD - is spot on. More testing tools is great. You only know how good/bad something is working by constructive experimentation over a sensible test area. Sounds great to me!
3:22 pm on Oct 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I have a question: How much time can you justify spending in accomplishing the mutlipe pages needed for this sort of metric? If you are working with small business's sites how much will a client pay before they start complaining that the ROI dosen't justify the cost?
9:47 pm on Oct 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Constable Mark ---

How much work hmmm....

my ideal working situation would dictate about 25000 page loads ( on landing page ) per day and the test would last about 200000 land page - page loads.

some math, if your click rate is 2.5 average per day, a jump to 3.0% click rate should yield about 20% increase in revenue. again this is just a theory, based on just having people click ad's. if you are talking signup's to list then you have to make extra effort into cookie tracking and have the entire site with the same color arrangement.

now it should not take more that 5 hours to make 10 different landing pages.

Now where I see a problem is :
I think that you might run into the Google duplicate content issue. that definitely needs to be looked at and confirmed.

 

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