As a publisher of some of the largest niche web sites in IT and software community web sites, we see a wide variety of online ad campaigns. The click-through performance can vary greatly between advertisers, even when their offerings are similar to one another. So, what drives one ad campaign to have a higher ROI than another?
Research has shown that incorporating simple creative elements into online advertising creative can improve overall advertising effectiveness. When creating new advertisements, it helps to use simple techniques such as:
Incorporating larger images - Humans tend to consume information faster through visual form. Bigger logos, stimulating color, contrast in foreground and background, and less text, can grab visitor's attention faster and help them digest your message easier.
Avoiding too much content and clutter - Too much content inside an advertisement can cause confusion and influence a visitor to move to another section of the website. It's always a good idea to put the focus on simplicity and promote a clear focal point. A visual balance, clear flow between your content and simple messaging can provide the winning recipe.
Promoting a clear call to action - There are many ads in the online space that do not promote a clear "call to action." Meaning, it's always a good idea to clearly communicate where visitors need to click inside the advertisement. Incorporate a simple link, or use a large push button that promotes an action with wording like "Click Here" or "Learn More". Without a clear call to action, visitors might assume the ad is just another piece of site content. It might lead users to simply glance over the ad, since there's no clear indication of a next step.
Keep ads fresh - A stale or repetitive ad can cause viewers to tune the ad out and not even notice it. If an ad campaign includes a large number of impressions or even an exclusive placement with 100% share of voice on a key web page, users may see the same ad over and over, leading them to tune out the message. While this strategy can do much to build brand recognition, it may not lead to high click-through performance. One tactic is to launch three to five variations on the ad creative so that the banners do not become stale to users. Additionally, placing multiple banners into equal rotation in the same locations allows for A/B testing to see which banners perform best and allowing the advertiser to tune their campaign. Replace the low-performing banners with fresh creative in an attempt to increase overall ROI, or simply remove the lowest performing banners leaving the most productive banners in rotation.
Select key ad placements - Many bargain ad networks and ad publishers offer low cost "run of site" or "run of network" placements, which spread ad impressions among random locations on one or more web sites. If this strategy is yielding a low click through rate (CTR) for you, you might consider purchasing specific placements. Some publishers and networks offer advertisers the ability to choose the web page and location for their ads, and may sell placements on an impression basis (CPM), a percent of rotation or an exclusive placement. The key is to find a web page that contains content that is well aligned to your offering, or that is in the highest levels of the web site's navigation hierarchy. Top tier pages (such as home page and 2nd level landing pages) tend to yield higher click-through performance. To determine if this strategy will work for your campaign, first select a location that is content-aligned or demographically aligned with your offering. Next, ask your ad network or site publisher for a test-buy with a certain number of impressions, rotation or exclusivity for a short time (1-2 weeks minimum). Finally, check the campaign statistics and compare the cost per click against your run-of-site campaigns. If budget allows, it is a good idea to try different key locations until you find where users are clicking most.
Many factors influence consumers' decisions to click on certain advertisements. These techniques should serve as a starting point for optimizing the effectiveness of online ad campaigns that engage the audience. Using these tactics, our advertisers have recognized 50-200% increases in click through rates (CTR) and a much more satisfying ROI from their online advertising campaigns.
Neudesic Media Group publishes online ads for a variety of computer technology vertical markets and sees over 40 million unique visitors each month.