Banner ads (display advertising)
Banners can and should get people's attention. But not because they are shouting animated monkeys and flashing text. Like any good piece of online marketing, truly successful banners provide something useful to an existing or potential customer at just the right time.
The metric that lies: Click-through rates, also called CTR. This simple metric measures the number of times that users click on a banner.
The myth: If a banner is getting lots of clicks, then there is a natural inclination to believe that the banner is successful. After all, people are clicking on it, so they must like it. Not so fast.
What it actually measures: Theyre just clicks. Let's back away for a moment and think critically about what's happening. If one banner is really good at getting people to click on it, then "clicks" is exactly where the success of the ad begins and ends. You were able to get people to click, and that's often a good thing. But remember that your goal is reaching the right person with a relevant message at the right time. Simply compiling clicks does not necessarily get you closer to your goals since what happens after the click is the behavior that is truly important.
How to avoid being fooled:
- High CTR can equal short-term gains in terms of elevated traffic numbers, but is the traffic any good? Watch what happens after the click. Do they leave immediately, or do they stay? If they bounce (leave) and don't come back, then the click is valueless.
- Test many different banners ad variations with different audiences (fish in different ponds with different bait), and see which ones speak most effectively to the audience.
Tips for next time:
- Test different ads across different audiences.
- Build and test landing pages.
- Remember that only striving for clicks can cause three big problems: First, your brand will be sacrificing a core message for an effective call to action. In other words, the important message that you are attempting to communicate is discarded in favor of language that gets people to click. Second, the ads that get the most clicks are often annoying, so be prepared for people to associate your brand with obnoxious ads. Third, one effective way to boost CTR is to broaden the placement of the ad in order to reach more people and then show the ad to that larger group less frequently. This is in direct opposition to the best-practice recommendations of many landing-page designers. A smaller, more-targeted group of people shown the ad multiple times will frequently yield higher-quality traffic.