How to Work with Legal & Brand Management For Better Ad Testing

By Brad


Ad Testing, General

wooden gavel and books Many marketers must submit all their ads to a legal and/or corporate branding team for approval before they are allowed to use them in a PPC account. These departments can often be bottlenecks to ad testing.

If you aren’t working well with legal and/or branding; then these departments can quickly become an excuse for why you aren’t testing ads appropriately and why the account is not growing as anticipated.

In this article, we’ll explain how to work with legal and branding so that they can help you in your ad testing process and not be a hindrance.

Explain Why Ad Testing is Important

The first step is sitting down with the departments and explaining why ad testing is so important. Proper ad testing can result in:

  • Higher quality scores
  • Lower CPCs
  • Higher positions at the same cost
  • More traffic
  • Lower cost per actions
  • Higher ROAS
  • More conversions
  • More revenue

You must explain to them why ad testing is both important to your job, but also crucial for the company as a whole.

Ask for a Time Commitment

Once the department understands why you must test ads; explain to them why you need their approval or feedback. Make them seem included in the ad testing process, not just a checklist item that you are forced to endure. The more a person feels special and included in the process, as opposed to just being a barrier or paper pusher, the more involved they will be in the process.

Once the person or department understands why you need their help to make the company grow and become more profitable online, then ask for a time commitment.

Try to schedule a time every single week where the department can approve ads and give you feedback. In some cases, you might only be granted monthly hours, but if you can get a weekly time slot it will make your ad testing more consistent.

Regardless of when the review process occurs,  agree on a recurring period of time where they will approve ads and give you feedback.

At first, you might have to follow-up constantly to get them to stick to this time commitment.  However, being organized and pushing for ad approval and feedback based upon their agreed upon schedule, will help in the long run as they get into the routine of approving ads and sending you feedback.

Determine the Best Ad Format to Send them Data

Before you go to the meeting, print out ads in a few methods:

  • AdWords editor import: With this printout, you will have an Excel sheet that lists the headline, d1, d2, display, and destination URL, department approval status, and notes by column.
    • This format is easier for you to deal with since you can just upload the data once it’s approved. However, a lot of non-PPC people find this a difficult format to work with.
  • Excel/Word Doc format: In this format, you will have the ad in one column as it will appear in a search result. Then another column for approval status and notes.
    • This format is easier for a lot of non-PPC people to read as they can see all the lines at once. However, you will have to do a bit more work putting the ads in this format; and once the ads are approved, you’ll have to put it into another format to upload to your account.
  • Note: You could also put this into a shared drive, Google Docs, Microsoft Office Online, etc format so that you can just send them a link to an online document they can read and edit.
  • Note: Your company might have some specific checklists or feedback requirements for ad approval. If so, add those to the sheet ahead of time so you can show you do understand the entire process and are trying to make life easier for them.
  • It’s ok to elicit feedback on the forms. Your goal is to make this as easy as possible for the department.

Ask them which format they prefer. While this might take you a bit more time, it will ensure that the department can work easier with your data and approve more ads within the same time commitment.

Making ad approval easy for legal and branding will help ensure that they realize you are trying to work with them and the easier it is for them, and the more ads you will get reviewed by the departments.

How Many Ads They Can Approve in a Time Frame

Checklist Once you have agreed on a format, ask them how long it will take them to approve ads in that format. Bringing a few printouts of varying numbers of ads to the meeting can help them see how many ads you really do need to get approved.

Your goal here is to get a sense of how many ads you need to create in a timeframe so that you can build up a queue of approved ads for testing. Even if you only need ten new ads a week; if they can approve 100, take advantage of that time to get more done than necessary.

What you don’t want to do is have them agree to an hour a week and then send them only 10 minutes of work per week as you’ll start setting an expectation that it only takes them 10 minutes. When you then send them an hour of work, it might take longer than usual to get responses from the departments.

Ask for Approval for Both Ads & Individual Lines

Often in ad testing, you might test multiple calls to action for the same headline and description line 1. In these cases, you really do not need the full ad approved; you need just a line approved.

Explain the difference to the department to see if you can get some globally approved lines that you can use at will.

Now, a lot of legal departments won’t do this as they want to see the entire message and how the lines interact with each other before they will sign off on the ad approval. However, if you are going to do multi-ad group testing; then you will want both full ads and individual lines approved.

Notes for Rejected Ads

rejected adssNo matter how much you try to write ads that will always be approved, some will be rejected. The trick with rejected ads is to have a feedback loop as to why it was rejected. In some cases, it might be something as simple as an unsubstantiated absolute or a number in an ad. In other cases, it’s the combination of lines together that will cause the rejection.

Ensure that your ad review document has a place for notes on rejected ads. Many departments have a tendency to just reject ads without telling you why. This does not help out anyone. Explain to them that if you know why an ad is rejected, then you can create copywriter guidelines so that future ads will fall into the guidelines and that everyone will be more efficient in their work.

Now, you will have some ads rejected that are confusing to you as to why. In these cases, feel free to ask for an explanation. In some instances, you might even build in an appeals process for ads that you don’t think should have been rejected and you can explain why you think the ad is OK for approval.

This rejected ad feedback loop is crucial to improving your long term relationship with the department. When you create new ads, you do not want to have future ads rejected for using some line or claim that was previously rejected. If the department feels that you are ignoring their information, they will stop sending it to you. So while you can fight a little bit for certain rejected ads, in the end, legal and branding have more authority over your PPC message than you do.

Discuss Promotional Schedules

In some cases, your company will run promotions. These might be holidays, peak periods, or other marketing campaigns. Often, when big promotions are coming up, you need more ads approved than usual.

If you are mostly dealing with the branding department, then there is usually a big discussion on the promotion with the other channel teams. Make sure you are in this meeting so you can understand the promotion, the message, and the media to be used. In that meeting, discuss the ads you will need to get approved. The branding department might just give you a few lines to use for your current ads to match the message or you might need to create all the new ads for branding approval. As the promotion has a deadline (usually 1-3 weeks before the promotion goes live), agree on a date where you will give them all the new ads so they can approve them all with enough time for you to upload them all and make them active.

If you are dealing with legal, then you need to discuss promotional challenges with them. Explain why promotions are so important; and ask them if, before these big promotions, they can schedule more ad approval time than usual to make sure all your new ads will meet their approval. This is also another time to bring up individual ad line approval as they might just need to approve 2-3 lines to use in your current approved ads instead of them reviewing hundreds or thousands of new ads.

What To Do with All the Approved Ads

If everything lines up correctly, you will have more ads approved than you need to run at any one time.

In these cases, using features like draft ads will help considerably. With draft ads you can:

  • Write ads in advance and put them in a queue
  • Set conditions for when loser ads are automatically paused and the draft ad goes live

This will ensure that all the approved ads are in the system and that they will be used and tested.


If you can get individual lines approved, then you will often want to use Multi-Ad Group testing techniques to see which lines perform best for you across a large variety of ads.

When you regularly test ads, your account will improve. However, branding and legal departments are often considered barriers to proper ad testing. If you create a review process and feedback loop with the departments, they don’t have to be a barrier for ad testing and can often help you create an ad testing schedule so that your account continues to improve and grow its profits.

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