Do you have a product or service and need users fast? Maybe you are testing to see how you can best enter a new market? Or even trying to figure out what to name your product?

Whatever your scenario, Google AdWords can be a great source of information as it allows you to quickly target an audience based on their intent. Google AdWords (also known as Paid Search, or SEM), permits a great level of control when it comes to testing, making it ideal for gathering quick and accurate data points in order to drive faster decision making.

Let’s get started with a primer on Google AdWords before going through some examples.

What Kind of Audience are you Buying?

As a digital marketing channel, AdWords can be considered a channel with explicit intent when compared to a channel like Facebook advertising. This is simply due to the nature of search itself, being that the user’s specific search queries indicate a user’s intent.

For example, if you type ‘personal loan’ into Google, you are indicating explicitly to Google (and by extension, its advertising partners) that you may be interested in products or services relating to personal loans.

Conversely, digital marketing channels (such as Facebook) that infer this information through audience data rather than having the user explicitly say what they are looking for are said to have less explicit intent.

Why use AdWords for Testing?

AdWords makes a fantastic testing bed for many situations. Whether you are looking to enter a new market or looking to gather data on which name works for your new product.


With 3.5 billion searches every day, when it comes to testing Google is able to provide you with the ability to gather data at a very fast pace and in a very accurate and measurable manner.

By speeding up your testing process and gathering data at a faster rate you are simply able to make more decisions directly from customer insight.

Ease of Use:

As a way of driving traffic to your website, product or service, AdWords as a platform has also become much easier to use, and now includes common help and setup guides to help you get started.

It’s possible to build a campaign, gather data and make decisions that inform your product development in a single day.

For an example, let’s pretend that you are wondering what name customers prefer for your new ridesharing company that you are launching in Sydney, Australia.

Traditionally you would need to speak with research firms who would then speak with your relevant audience and then present the findings back to you. While there is still value in this, by using AdWords it is very easy to set up an experiment and to test multiple different names in the same day.

To do this the first thing you should consider is what people are searching to find services like yours. In our case, it would be ‘sydney taxi’.

The idea here would be to target this keyword and use some simple A/B testing to create two messages in order test whether customers are more engaged with the name RideShare A or RideShare B. You would then change the campaign settings to rotate the ads evenly and adjust any other location parameters to ensure you are creating a fair test.

The next step would be to quickly mock up different landing pages for RideShare A and RideShare B, set the campaign live, and then analyse that data.

An AdWords Setup In More Detail

Let’s talk through a practical paid search example and workflow on launching a fictional eCommerce marketplace for handmade goods in Australia.

Strategy – Start small and start targeted

With the eCommerce example above, let’s start by targeting people searching for ‘handmade jewellery’, one of our potential product categories for our ETSY-like marketplace.

With this audience in mind, at a high level, we need to consider the scale of the test, how we are measuring success, what success looks like, and what budget we have to use.

There are several other strategic pieces included in the video and outlined below that need to be considered before proceeding.

  • What network will we be testing with?
  • Do we want to target by geographic location?
  • By language?
  • Or device?

These pieces are important to consider as it will dictate what campaign settings you will end up using later on.

Keywords – Building a foundation

Once you have worked through the strategic piece, the next step is to consider what keywords you want to target. You know your product or service better than most, so you should have a good idea of which keywords customers should be searching for.

It’s also always a good idea to think to yourself ‘if I was looking for this product/service, what would I search for?’.

You can also use tools like the Google Keyword Planner to help you understand which keywords to add. Keeping with our example, and using the Google Keyword tool, we can see that there are an average of 1-1,000 searches a month for ‘handmade jewellery’ in Australia.

When setting up the keywords it’s important to consider match types. You can read more about different match types here. In short, exact match means that your keyword needs to match exactly what the query is in order for your ad to show. Broad match is the opposite. The query just needs to have the keywords within it. When starting out, start with just exact match to ensure your targeting and budgeting is performing to expectations

In our marketplace example, we’re going to start small and use exact match keywords in order to best control which queries show our ads.

It is also important you add negative keywords.

Negative keywords exclude your ads from showing against certain queries. For example, if you added ‘jewellery’ as a keyword but only wanted to target people searching for types of handmade jewellery you should add appropriate negative keywords.

This could be a keyword like ‘stores’ which would exclude your ad from showing against the search ‘jewellery store’ where someone is looking to find a physical store.

Measurement – What is measured is managed

With the target keywords in mind, we need to consider how we are going to measure success. This is clearly on an individual test basis for your product or service, but let’s keep with our example and say that purchases are our key success metric. With the idea that we want to test how many users purchase from our marketplace.

There are a number of ways you can do this. Most ways include the setup of an AdWords conversion tag to fire once the user has made a purchase. We’ve included a few examples below.

  • Using Google AdWords, place the conversion tracking pixel on the ”thank you for purchasing’ page
  • Using Google Analytics, set up a goal to trigger on the ‘thank you for purchasing’ page and import this Goal into AdWords
  • Use Google Tag Manager to trigger the AdWords conversion pixel on the ‘thank you for purchasing page”

Campaign Setup – AdGroups and Campaigns

With our target keyword ‘handmade jewellery’ in mind, it’s time to build our campaign and organise our keywords. It’s now time to decide on a daily test budget, as always starting small and controlled is the best course.

We’ve decided to restrict our campaign based on language and location, as the fictional service we want to launch is available only in Australia. Using this information, we’ve made the appropriate changes to the campaign settings during the campaign creation process.

The next step is to create an ad group within this campaign. You can think of ad groups as buckets of keywords that should have similarly themed keywords within them.

The reason we group the keywords together by theme is because it allows us to create messaging that better matches the search.

In our example, we’re going to just one keyword in one ad group to ensure that the ads targeting this ad group closely match the keyword, and subsequent searches. In this case, we would be adding the keyword ‘homemade jewellery’ into our first ad group.

As we mentioned earlier, it is important to set the match type correctly, as this ultimately means what kinds of queries searches will match against and therefore determine where your ads will show.

As this is just for market testing and we want to keep it fairly tight, let’s set this to exact match. This means that your keyword will exactly match the user’s search term.

Ad Copy – Good writing is rewriting

Creating some ad copy is the next step in our process. Best practice here is to try and include the search terms within the ad copy itself. So in our case we would ensure that we include the term ‘handmade’ as well as the term ‘jewellery’.

Our first recommendation is to do some research what is currently showing and how competitors are using AdWords to advertise their products. This will give you an idea of what is currently in market as well as where there may be an opportunity to differentiate yourself.

Try to approach writing ad copy from the perspective of multiple people. You could look at it from the perspective of someone who hasn’t seen your brand before, someone who is familiar with your brand, and someone who has transacted with your brand. This will give you multiple angles to work with when thinking of how to write your ad copy.

From there you can draft a list of your unique selling points, develop your messaging and create 3-4 similar variations by using similar messaging but slightly different selling points.

Bids – Setting baseline bids

As our example is a market test we recommend starting 25% lower than Googles recommended bids from the Keyword Tool. Once our ads and keywords are live you can then reassess your ad’s position and adjust it accordingly.

Google has an Ad Preview Tool, which provides information and helps you preview ads.

Due to the small scale of our test, we recommend beginning with manual bidding so that you can closely monitor and control CPC’s.

As you move from your testing phase and into a strategy that is more active you can then evaluate automated bidding options and their performance.

Check – Double-check before you go live

With this all set up, it’s time to double check our budgets, campaign settings, match types, negative keywords, bids and ad copy.

Before you go live, we recommend that you step away from your account for an hour and return with a fresh mind, ready to review the work you have completed. We also suggest avoiding setting new accounts live late at night or at any other time where you will be unavailable to immediately monitor them.

With your final checks complete and the ad copy approved, it is now a matter of watching the data come in.

How much data you receive will dictate how quickly you are able to make decisions. If you’re receiving a low volume of data (similar to 1-5 clicks a day) it is difficult to be confident quickly due to the small sample size. So, in this case, we would recommend that you extend the length of your test period in order to capture a greater dataset.

This is a brief primer on what is required to set up a quick test. Note that there are many more smaller steps that need to be considered when setting up a new campaign or developing on an existing one.

If you’re interested in learning more how you can run faster tests at scale for your company please get in touch.

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