Search vs Cookie Based Experiment Campaigns: What’s The Difference?

Google's cookie based Google Doodle image

You’ve decided to go ahead with an A/B test and launch an experiment campaign on Google Ads. After following Google’s latest experiment campaign changes, you’ll almost be ready to launch your experiment, until… you’re faced with a choice of ONE experiment split option; Search-based, or Cookie-based.

In this editorial, we’ll briefly explain each option, as well as highlighting which is right for your campaigns.

What is a Search-based experiment split?

A Search-based split will randomly show the ads of one version of the campaign each time a search occurs.

This means that if a user makes the same search more than once, they could see ads for both versions of the campaign.

Search-based splits tend to see statistically significant results faster than a cookie-based split.

What is a Cookie-based experiment split?

A Cookie-based split will randomly assign users to one version of the campaign.

This means a user will only ever see ads from one version of the campaign, regardless of how many times they repeat the search.

This can help give more accurate results, making it Google’s recommended (and default) experiment split option.

Which campaign experiment split should I choose?

Both Search-based and Cookie-based experiment splits have their uses.

Search-based split-test

If you’re looking for significant results faster, opt for a Search-based split. Search-based splits tend to gather more data in a shorter amount of time, due to their ability to show both types of ads to the same user who has searched more than once. This is great for those who wish to see results sooner, but it results in the split being less accurate.

Search-based splits are acceptable for some experiments, such as testing different bid strategies.

Cookie-based split-test

If you’re looking for a more controlled, accurate experiment, opt for the Cookie-based split. Cookie-based splits will ensure that your split is as fair as possible, by only showing one variation to each user (made possible by the technology cookies provide).

If you’re running an experiment to test different landing pages or offers, you’ll want to choose cookie-based. This will ensure the same user isn’t exposed to both offers/landing pages.

If you want to know more about this topic or have any other PPC based queries, please feel free to get in touch for a no-obligation discussion.

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