Retargeter Blog

Banner Ad Optimization: The Click-Through Fallacy

Banner Ad Optimization

In the display advertising world, there are very few facets of strategy as contentiously debated as that of banner ad design. While many basic tenets of creative banner ad design are as well established as say, gravity, advertisers have one constant challenge: how to get the desired response to their ad. Today’s advertisers are forced to sift through piles of data from exhaustive tests and discern, at the end of it all, what makes their display campaign successful.

Naturally, the success of your banner ad is dependent on myriad factors beyond your control. After all, even the most beautiful, most accurately targeted banners won’t gain you conversions if your finance department decides at the last moment you need to mark up prices 100% on your e-commerce site. So, in the dynamic world of advertising creatives, what questions can marketers ask of themselves when optimizing their banners for performance?

First Things First

Traditionally, the approach to banner ad design has been auto-pilot. The copy is written, the colors are selected, the design is agreed upon, and various sizes and templates are applied to create what eventually will become your digital advertising campaign. Yet the most important, and consequently, the first step a marketer should take is to decide on the purpose of the ad. Do you want your banner to generate brand awareness for your company, or do you want to generate traffic?

If you’re looking for traffic, do you care if they convert once they arrive on your page? This question is hugely important, because as seen in controlled tests, banners optimized for clicks do not always translate to conversions. In this experiment, a pain-point inducing call to action was used in one banner, while the other banner’s copy was simply an extension of the message conveyed in the landing page. While the banner with the compelling call to action produced an expectedly higher click-through rate, it was outperformed by nearly a 300% increase in conversions by the banner that maintained the same message as the landing page it directed clickers to. This data demonstrates that clever copywriting will get you a result like a high click-through rate, but smart copywriting can get you a high conversion rate.

Eyes on The Prize

In our experience, clients who choose to use ReTargeter’s AdStudio for banner ad design often look to clicks as the ultimate measure of success. But, as we always ask, have you considered why a high click-through rate is important for you? Think back to the days of the “Win A FREE iPod! Click Here” ads that peppered the internet. Remember how difficult it actually was to get the free iPod? These campaigns probably saw astronomically high click-through rates with absolutely dismal conversion rates.

Your banner ads are an essential portion of your online sales funnel. They should work to enhance the efficiency of your pipeline, not sideline potential conversions. When writing copy for banner advertisements, it’s essential to consider the big picture and think about the goal that the ads are looking to serve.

Define Your Goal and Stick to It

Banner ads are powerful to advertisers because they create easily quantifiable data that can be used to measure the effectiveness of advertising budgets. While maintaining a solid click-through rate is important, generating tons of clicks should not be the ultimate goal of a marketer.  The purpose of the banner ad is to drive clickers to make a desired action, such as purchasing a pair of shoes, filling out a lead gen form, or downloading a free trial. If you become hung up on clicks, you’ve simply lost sight of your goal. When designing banners, a best practice is to consider the flow from banner to landing page to conversion. Maintaining consistency along this pipeline will ensure that you’re not just optimizing for clicks but also for conversions, and ultimately, for revenue.

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