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Apr 16 2018

Display advertising clickthrough rates

US, Europe and Worldwide display ad clickthrough rates statistics summary

I’ve put this compilation together to help marketers and students studying interactive marketing create direct response conversion models for digital marketing campaigns.

When I originally compiled these stats from different sources, social media ads were only in their infancy, but they are now established as a mainstay of online advertising. More recently I have added a comparison of CTRs for Facebook and Twitter and paid search rates (AdWords or SEM) at the end of post.

If you’re looking to get more from your display advertising we have an Expert members guide to retargeting with display ads.

Recommended Guide: Ad Retargeting briefing

Learn the success factors and best practices for display advertising from Emma Ashby who works as Display Manager at epiphany.

Display Ad CTR benchmarks – March 2017 update

The best source for current benchmarks is Doubleclick (the display advertising arm of Google) who have this regularly updated interactive Display Benchmarking tool as part of Think Insights. You can select by country, sector and ad format to create your own benchmarks. Here’s our summary of current global Ad CTRs:

1. Overall Display Ad CTRs

Across all ad formats and placements Ad CTR is just 0.05%

So, this is just than 5 clicks per 10000 impressions showing the difficulty of driving direct response from online display or banner ads.

While this is a really low CTR however you look at it, cross media optimisation research we see that online ads do help increase brand awareness and purchase intent, particularly when combined with offline media.

We also see much higher CTRs online for other online ad formats like Google AdWords and Facebook – these can exceed 1%, so are more effective in driving volume and also typically have higher intent, so conversion rates are higher.

The most recent data from November when we updated this compilation shows that previous rich media expandable rates were higher making the average higher, but the more typical image or Flash in-page ad is similar to a year ago.

Rich media Ad CTR is 0.1%

Across standard and rich media, this shows an ad clickthrough rate of 0.14% which is more realistic estimate if ads will be placed on the fold. For Smart Insights advertisers we offer an MPU in the right sidebar above-the-fold and this has a typical CTR of 0.15 to 0.22% depending on the creative and content asset on offer.

This chart, also from Google-Doubleclick shows that the 0.1% CTR has been an average for some time although the recent fluctuations cast doubt on the data accuracy.

For anyone researching trends in display advertising in different countries or sectors you could try the Doubleclick Ad Research page – these reports don’t tend to be updated so frequently though.

4. Comparison of display, search (AdWords) and social ads CTRs

This Q3 2015 comparison of average online media clickthrough rates from Marin is useful for modelling the response of digital media for top-level budgets.

Facebook ad clickthrough example

These Facebook Ad CTRs for different types of ad formats are taken from a test run by Smart Insights contributor Marie Page. They show that by using targeting in Facebook it’s possible to improve on general Internet ad clickthough rates.

Variation in online ad clickthrough rates by country

This is historic data for reference – for the latest use the interactive Display benchmarking tool.

Source: DoubleClick for Advertisers, a cross section of regions, January and December 2009, Published July 2010

Variation in online ad Clickthrough Rates by ad format

Ad clickthrough rate naturally varies according to placement (position on screen) and ad format (shape and size). The traditional full-banner performs very poorly compared to skyscrapers, the ubiquitous medium rectangle and the newer large rectangle format.

Variation in online ad Interaction Rates by ad format

Interaction rates differ for different ad formats in a similar way to ad formats.

Interaction rate definition :

Interactions are defined as the user does one or more of the following:

  • Mouses over the ad for 1 continuous second
  • Clicks an Exit link
  • Makes the ad display in Full Screen mode
  • Expands the ad

Social media ad clickthrough rates – a comparison of Facebook and Twitter CTRs

Wordstream have posted an interesting analysis comparing Facebook and Twitter. It’s generally known that Facebook has low CTRs because ad units are not that prominent – it’s similar with LinkedIn. Although this is changing as more prominent ad units are created, particularly on mobile.

You can read the full analysis from Larry Kim on Facebook vs Twitter CTRs on Wordstream which includes a wider analysis of the importance of their advertising including mobile.

There is also newer 2017 research Facebook Ad CTR from WordStream’s Facebook advertising customers showing that across sectors clickthrough rates (CTRs) vary from around 0.5% through to 1.6%.

Pay-per-click or SEM clickthrough rates (e.g. AdWords and Bing)

These statistics are courtesy of the Adobe Digital Index reports. published annually for their customers across 200 billion site visits.

Of course, these figures are averages and in reality, CTRs tend to be higher for brand searches.

The challenge of online ad viewabililty

Viewability is another issue for advertisers to consider when evaluating online ad effectiveness as measured by clickthrough rates. Ad blocking also has an impact since ad blockers have increased in popularity across countries and demographics, accounting for 35% of ads in some countries.

Viewability refers to the percentage of ads in a campaign or on a publisher site that are potentially available for clickthrough. Just 44.9% of all ads are clickable according to Google-published viewability data since ads may be below the fold and users do not scroll to see them. This varies across publisher and content category.

Given the impact of viewability and ad blocking on online ad clickthrough rates you can see that there are moves in the industry to only charge for viewable ads, which with increasing options for native advertising will potentially improve the effectiveness of ads.

By Dave Chaffey

Dave is CEO and co-founder of Smart Insights. He is editor of the 100 templates, ebooks and courses in the digital marketing resource library created by our team of 25+ Digital Marketing experts. Our resources used by our Expert members in more than 80 countries to Map, Plan and Manage their digital marketing. For my full profile, or to connect on LinkedIn or other social networks, see the About Dave Chaffey profile page on Smart Insights. Dave is author of 5 bestselling books on digital marketing including Emarketing Excellence and Digital Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice. In 2004 he was recognised by the Chartered Institute of Marketing as one of 50 marketing ‘gurus’ worldwide who have helped shape the future of marketing.

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