5 ways to improve your ad click-through rate

October 6, 2014 Emma Cullen

Achieving a high click-through rate is essential in making a banner ad campaign successful. Whilst it is possible to achieve a great click-through rate on your banner ads, the average click-through rate is a mere 0.01%. Therefore it is so important for marketers and designers to actively optimize their banner ads. 

This article explores 5 different things that you can do in order to improve your banner ad click-through rate.  

1. Place your banner ads above the fold

The placement of your banner ads on a web page can have a huge impact on the performance of the ad. Above the fold is the optimal position for a banner ad. This was confirmed in an Infolinks study, it was found that up 156% more visitors saw adverts that were at the top of the web page as opposed to the bottom of the web page.


This Watches & Wonders display ad at the top of the New York Times home page is impossible to miss and a creative way to make the most of the most sought after advertising space on a web page. Not only is there a large Banner at the top of the page underneath the newspaper’s name, there are two additional square banner ads either side if it.

2. Create innovative banner ads

The CTR back in the mid-90s was about 44% (compared to today’s 0.1%). This was because they were something new that users hadn’t seen before and therefore viewers were compelled to click them. Banner ads have been around for 20 years now and people are used to them. Therefore, static image banner ads no longer convert as well as they once did.

However, by thinking outside the box and being innovative when it comes to banner ad design, you can look to improve your click-through rate. In the example below you can see that IKEA was being very inventive with banner ad design. The first image shows how the banner ad was displayed when users first viewed it. As you can see, it invites users to resize the banner. The second screenshot shows what happens when the user resizes the banner: different furniture layouts are presented to the viewer.


You can have a go resizing the ad here.

3. Make sure your ads are relevant to the viewer

Creating display adverting that is relevant to the view is just as important as placement when trying to avoid your ads becoming ‘invisible’ to users. According to a study by Infolinks and bannerblindness.org, only 2.8% thought that ads on websites were relevant, which is a very low number! No wonder CTRs are so low!

You can make sure that your banners are relevant by publishing your banner ads on websites that your target audience would visit. For example, if you’re selling handmade goods on Etsy, you would want to consider advertising on a blog that focuses on Etsy shops and products because you know that your target audience (people who shop on Etsy) are going to see your ads! It doesn’t have to be more complicated that that, although many ad networks offer a wide range of different targeting options to make sure you find your audience and maximize your click-through rate.

You can also keep your content relevant by using geo-targeting. This means that your banner ads are tailored to suit a person based on their location, for example using relevant languages and currencies to create relevant display advertising.

4. Focus on an eye-catching banner design

We now understand how important the placement and location of a banner ad is. However, we can’t forget that the design of your banner is also very important too and can have a huge impact on your click-through rates.

Did you know that web surfers are blind to over 90% of your online display advertisements? If a viewer doesn't even notice your banner ad, then your design is simply not effective, and your click-through rate will be destroyed. 

One of the main reasons as to why  most viewers cannot ‘see’ your display advertising is ‘banner blindness‘. Only 3 years after the first ever banner ad hit our screens banner blindness was discovered as a phenomenon, and ever since we have been trying to solve this problem! Today there are a lot of companies who are offering high-tech eye-tracking devices and heat maps to see how effective online ads are. However, if is possible to avoid banner blindness by taking a few precautions when creating your display advertisement:

One good way to beat banner blindness is through design is to use faces in your banner design. Eyetrackshop has used eye-tracking tools and heat maps to show that users will naturally look at banners with faces more than ones without.

Learning how to design banner ads effectively can help improve the quality of your banner ads in general, and it is worth investing time in learning how to design display advertisements well.

5. Create mobile-optimized ads

As mentioned above, around a third of display advertisements are not even viewable to users who are accessing the internet on their mobile phones or tablets. This is bad news for many advertisers using display advertising, but this problem can be easily solved. This problem has occurred because these devices cannot run Adobe Flash, and many display advertisements, particularly those which contain animations are made in Flash.

It is predicted that by 2019 that over 40% of money spent on online advertising will be on mobile advertising. So, now is the time to get to grips with HTML5 and consider taking the leap from Flash to HTML5 otherwise more and more of your ads will go unseen. BannerFlow allows you to create large amounts of HTML5 banner quickly and easily, so moving from Flash to HTML5 doesn’t seem so daunting!

In conclusion, it’s important to understand why your display advertisement has a low CTR; it might be down to poor design, or because mobile viewers simply cannot see your ad. Therefore, making sure the technical aspects of your banner ad function as well as its placement and design. 

What tips do you have for more clickable display advertisements? Let us know in comments!


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