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Performance Testing for Ads

February 12, 2009

by John Shedletsky

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It’s been several months since we released our exciting feature that allows users to run ads on our website for places, models, and clothing that they have made. It has been a huge success and the quality of our users’ ads continues to improve over time as people figure out what works and what doesn’t.

There’s a lot of information in the wiki to help you get started making your own ads.

Today I want to talk to our advanced-level advertisers who have already run a couple of ads and know their way around the system. I’ve got some tips that will help you performance test your ads to make sure you are getting the most bang for your advertising budget.

Ad Performance Stats


The first thing you need to know about is your Ad Performance Stats. These are the numbers that tell you exactly how good your ad is. Better ads give your more traffic for the same amount of money. This is key.

What do these numbers mean?

Impressions – This is the number of times your ad has been shown on the site. Higher numbers here mean more traffic for you. The main way to make this number bigger is by bidding more tickets when you place an ad.

Clicks – This is the number of times your ad has been clicked. You want this number to be as big as possible.

CTR – “CTR” stands for “Click Through Rate”. This is exactly equal to the probability that someone who sees your ad actually clicks on it. This is the number you most care about.

Bid – This is how much you spent to run your ad. If 100,000 tickets are spent on advertising on Roblox in one day and you bid 1,000 tickets, you will receive 1% of all available user ad impressions that day.

It’s All About the Click Through Rate

CTR is basically a measure of how good your ad is. No one clicks on an ugly ad. It doesn’t matter how many people see your ad if no one clicks on it. A CTR of less than 1% is bad. Most of my ads average between 2-3%. Any ad that has a CTR of higher than 5% is awesome. Remember though, even if your ad has a CTR of 10%, it won’t matter if you’re advertising a place that no one wants to visit or clothing that no one wants to buy. So quality counts everywhere.

Ad Performance Testing – How to Max Out Your CTR

Even if you are a brilliant artist and can make great ads, you can make your ads even better with performance testing.

Performance testing means running experiments to figure out which of your ads is the best.

I did a little experiment a while ago, and made three versions of the same ad for my place, Sword Fight on the Heights IV. Then, I ran all 3 ads at the same time with the same bid.

Which do you think is the best ad? (scroll down for the answer)


Answer: Version 3 is the best. Version 1 is the worst.

How do I know? Version 3 had a CTR of 4.76% – almost 5% of all people to see this ad clicked on it. That’s pretty good. Version 1 scored only 3.15%. That’s ok, but not great.

The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, you have to watch your bottom line. I spent 1000 on each of these ads. With version 3, I got 280 clicks for my 1000 tix. With version 1 I only got 180 clicks. That’s 55% more clicks with version 3. That’s huge!

What to Do Next

An ad’s CTR will usually go down over time as people get bored of the ad and stop clicking on it.  Your CTR will also go down if you run your ad too often – if one out of every two pages on Roblox is showing my ad, people are going to stop clicking on it.

You need to keep an eye on your CTR all the time. I’ll run version 3 of my ad until it gets down to around 3.5%. Then I’ll design a new ad.

That’s It For Now 

There’s a lot more that could be said about designing great ads. But hopefully this information is enough to get you into the game.

Congratulations. You now know more about internet advertising than most adults.

– Telamon