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Why And How To A/B Test Digital Banners

Detractors might say that banner ads (just like a lot of other legacy media) are dead. But if you have a website, you know how crucial they are. There are plenty of reasons why almost  $5.9 billion were spent on banner ads in 2020 alone. Promoting pre-orders and events, cost-effectiveness, and brand building are only some benefits of digital banner advertising.

Today, we are here to discuss one of the critical aspects of banner ads for marketers — testing. Because intuition and experience can only take you so far, and the audience always has the last laugh. With a focus on the preferred A/B testing method, we are about to explore the whys and hows of banner ad testing.

Why A/B Testing Won’t Be Passé Anytime Soon

A/B testing or split testing, as you would know, is a method of testing two different versions of the same ad with two separate audience groups to decide which one works best. So why is this age-old method still so relevant for the format of banner ads?

Here are a few reasons:

What Should You Be Testing?

A/B testing is no mean business. You ought to test one element at a time, and there are quite a bunch of factors. If you test multiple elements together, you wouldn’t be sure about which one worked.

Here are the key elements that you should be testing:

A/B Banner Test Examples

Here are a few examples of A/B tested banners found across the internet. 

LinkedIn: Here LinkedIn has tried two different banner sizes and formats for the same design, on the same page. Which one gets a better CTR will help them decide the size and positioning that works for this particular offering. 

Grammarly: In this classic example, Grammarly, the Grammar Nazi this world swears by, has experimented with static and dynamic banners, apart from altering the size as well. Which one do you think would fetch better results? The static, sleek one on top of a page, or the GIF in the middle of a page?

Dell: Dell has placed the same banner ad at two places on the same page, one on the left and the other in the center. Both are about one scroll away from each other. The only two differences are the size and the copy beneath the second banner. They have smartly tried to test if some extra copy outside the banner helps or not, apart from checking where a viewer’s attention is drawn first on the page. 

A/B Testing Banner Ads: Things to Remember

Here are a few make or break things that you must take care of while A/B testing your banner ads:

  1. Ensure that the entire creative team (mainly copy and design) is on board with the tests. You don’t want one of those classic creative-strategy-analytics conflicts, do you?
  2. Establish which KPI you are measuring. Don’t go shooting in the dark. 
  3. Test only one or two aspects at a time. This needs reiteration as it is the very essence of A/B testing.
  4. Decide the time for which you want to run the test. You cannot wait for too long or too short a time to know what works. This is especially relevant for time-specific or seasonal ads. It might so happen that you lose valuable inflows simply because you tested too much and didn’t run the right ad for a long time.


A/B testing can be a transforming exercise for your brand’s ad campaigns. However, you also need to realize that A/B testing is not quantum physics as extensive as it is. It requires, as any other research practice, a lot of trial and error. So our parting shot would be: be patient, be resilient, and happy testing!

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