In a move that could ruffle the feathers of some e-commerce Web site consultants and analytics software providers, Google has unveiled a site optimization tool that enables advertisers to test landing pages.
In its AdWords blog, Google outlined plans for beta testing of the company's new Website Optimizer tool. The service lets online sellers test separate landing page components such as headlines, product features and images to determine the page with the best conversion rates for websits. The new tool complements Google Analytics, a system for tracking AdWords campaign effectiveness.
Multi-variable testing for landing pages is something that has become more popular over the last couple of years, as advertisers look to tweak different aspects of their campaigns - looking for that edge.
In the realm of online marketing, clicks are the driving force by which advertisers gauge their success. Conversion, however, plays perhaps an equally important role in the online marketing landscape.
What is conversion? Simply put, it is an action taken by a user after a click. An example of conversion would be the online purchase of an item by a consumer after having clicked on an advertisement from the product's manufacturer.
According to Google... The beta launch of Website Optimizer is a limited release that is offered to AdWords advertisers on a “sign-up and acceptance basis.” AdWords and Google Analytics account holders are eligible to use the tool for free according to the company. The system allows site operators to run experiments to isolate the landing pages and their content components that deliver the highest sales and sign ups. Once they have created landing page variations, advertisers tag them with code formulated by the system. When users click on the advertiser's AdWords ads, test pages are served to them directly by the optimization system.
Website Optimizer is fully integrated with Google AdWords and is free to AdWords advertisers...It is a self-service tool that enables non-technical users to set-up and run multivariate landing page experiments.
Advertisers can analyze results throughout the experimentation phase, the duration of which depends on traffic rates and complexity. In addition to measuring landing page conversion rates and page views, the tool's reports gauge how site variations work in conjunction, and separately. Reports show estimated conversion rates, probability of success through altering page elements, improvement over the original landing page, and the significance of specific page features.
Google has recognized the importance of conversion and is working on a tool to assist its advertising partners in achieving the ultimate goal of turning clicks into conversions. Website Optimizer uses Google Analytics technology for tracking and reporting which landing page variation had the highest conversions.
Google is partnering with Web analytics consulting firms EpikOne and Optimost to provide professional services to clients requiring more in-depth services, as an option for AdWords users looking for a hand with their ad testing. Both Yahoo and Google are starting to offer services and tools that agencies have been specializing in. By partnering, Google gets the approval of third-partner agencies, who might otherwise feel they are being squeezed out.
Firms providing Web analytics software or those serving small businesses could feel a pinch as customers move to the latest free AdWords apparatus, said Mark Wachen, CEO of Optimost. However, companies like his that service large clients and do not offer a do-it-yourself product would not be affected negatively, he added. Optimost counts IAC, HP and Delta among its current roster of clients.
“We do not really view this as competition,” he said. “Google’s going to build awareness for the category.”
At the end of each experiment, graphical reports show which version of your landing page users liked best, as measured by which variation had the highest conversion rate. So, if you are interested in increasing conversions, we think you will find the Website Optimizer useful.
It will be interesting to test Website Optimizer and see how it compares to third-party offerings.
Timthoy Seward has more details of how Website Optimizer will work.
Applications for the best test can be found here.
With $4 billion worth of advertising revenue in 2006, it appears that Google's strategy is working. Website Optimizer reflects Google's continued efforts to become as marketing friendly as possible by creating tools geared specifically for its advertising partners.