Message match + testing headlines

Hey everyone!

Recently I posted about creating new variants and content to test, and @Adam_Smartschan had a comment that sparked a few conversations and I want to get some input from the whole group in here.

In my post I was suggesting that testing headlines is one of the top 5 ways to mix up your variants to see what converts best:

@David_Echeverry_Draw had a great response to that (TLDR it impacts your Google QS but not by much)

Now here’s my question:

When your ad in Google advertises a specific offer (let’s say it’s “50% off your first order”), do you always match all your variants with that headline? How much do you test with your content?

The reason I’m asking is because in order for Smart Traffic to be the most effective, you need several variants to give it as much information to learn from as possible – but when it comes to ad match, how important is it to keep your headline consistent?

Thoughts? :thought_balloon:

I think the amount of variants is and should be more dependent on the offer and not the platform.

I could argue that a “discount” offer can limit the amount of variant headlines one could think of. But I don’t think that should stop anyone from using machine learning to test more. In any case, message match is still relevant because you can’t stray from the offer in the ad. So that discount better be somewhere obvious on that page :wink:

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I totally agree. And as a humble online shopper, from experience if I click on an ad on Google for 50% off and I click to the page and the headline is “get $25 off”, even if it’s the same dollar amount discount, I’ll assume I missed the discount and will mostly likely bounce.

My thoughts on message matching in a Google Ads context apply more towards matching the headline to the search term, rather than the ad copy. We try to match the “user intent” and it’s less about the words matching and more about making sure the user finds the page relevant to their goal. When it comes to discounts, we like to test different ways of presenting a discount such as a:

  • Dollar discount
  • Percentage discount
  • Total discounted price versus Total regular price
  • Any other aspect of the promo (ex: ability to pay in instalments)

I would also go as far as to test the same variants on the ad copy level.


I agree with the crowd here - the best approach is to create relevance with the user intent and the offer mentioned in ad copy. It doesn’t have to match 100% but a bait-and-switch, whether intentional or unintentional, will create a poor visitor experience and negatively impact Quality Score.

When in doubt, focus on the audience that actually gives you money. Hint, it’s not Google or its ad rank algorithm.


My feeling is that the messaging should always match from ad to page, not just for ad score, but for good user experience. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to repeat the headline word for word.

The messaging involves more than just the headline. Everything above the fold that stands out is part of the message, including images, buttons, etc. If the offer stands out enough in those other elements, say through a starburst or similar graphic element, you have a bit more flexibility with the headline, with the caveat that it still has to match the expectation/intent of the user coming from that ad.


Agree with the comment: “meeting the expectation/intent of the user”. The landing page should confirm the offer. Then, I try to anticipate the next expectation, and the next. . . through the entire page.

If an offer of 50% OFF was motive for the click, what is the next expectation?

In my experience, deep discounts raise suspicions about the quality of the product or service. So, that’s the first thing to address.

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