This question came from a client the other day – why aren’t our digital banner ads for our equestrian brands performing better? A great question, as some retail saddlery and apparel brands invest heavily in this area for their advertising.
Let’s start with what is considered a baseline for good performance.
When this type of ad became available in the 1990s, the standard click-through-rate was 5% or better. Since then, the average has leveled around .2% or .3%, so expectations may need to be updated from 2001.
For those of you thinking – What is a click-through-rate? (or CTR), it works like this: if your ad is seen 100 times (100 impressions) and receives one click to your site, then the CTR for that ad is 1%. When posting ads on a very busy website, that 1% is actually 1000’s of impressions, so this can be misleading.
The Problem. User survey data has shown that since we are now exposed to so much advertising in a day, fewer people are trusting display ads and tend to pass on clicking on them altogether. High traffic sites tend to offer many, many ad spaces, so your ad has to compete quite a bit to be seen.
So, what is a brand to do?
Look at your data. If you currently have ads running, ask your ad rep for monthly ad performance reports. This should give you an idea of what is happening. Keep in mind that a “click” off of the ad, will not be counted 1:1 in Google Analytics, because of how it defines what a “visit” is. Get an idea of a normal and see if you can push the numbers up with a better call to action, or retail offer. Use the above formula to see where your CTR falls.
Pick your advertising sites carefully. If your ads are running on a site with high Domain Authority (Use the Chrome app from Moz to see this), they are being seen by a large audience, with a high impression rate, with a link back to your website. Be certain the audience is a match for what you are selling and your geographic location.
Refresh your creative. All ads get tired, and digital creative is proven to wear out quickly. Use quality images and work with a designer to get the most eyeballs on your ads. If you are running a heavy ad rotation, be sure and test which creative is working best.
Don’t allocate your whole spend on ads. Banner ads can be an effective way to stay in front of your target audience, but like Twizzlers, you can’t just eat those all day and expect healthy results. Be sure you have a holistic approach to advertising with appropriate additions to support all aspects of your growth goals.
Final advice. If your media or ad agency isn’t talking to you about performance but selling you quite a few ads, take stock in what is working before the next round of planning so that you may make data-driven, smart decisions about your next budget spend.
When selected carefully and monitored throughout the year, banner ads can still be effective in building brand visibility or driving sales. Keeping tabs on your advertising also allows you to head off any issues. For the client question at the beginning, I took a look at the ads that were running for this client and we found that they were, actually, working quite well for them.