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We Discovered What Makes Good Banner Ads Great

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The first clickable banner ad appeared in the 1990s and despite how fast the internet has evolved since then, it still remains one of the top advertising channels for online marketers. However, today’s ad creatives hardly resemble those of 20 years ago. There are now thousands of ways to configure banners, sizes, designs, cost models, designs and product displays. Moreover, automated RTB and Retargeting ad technologies are on the rise, allowing banners to dynamically display different content based on each user’s personal behavior.

With so many options, RTB House set out to examine a back-to-basics question: what specific parameters make the perfect banner ad? RTB House analyzed hundreds of selected advertising campaigns run for clients on 33 markets, including the Czech Republic, Greece, Poland, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine, to see which elements of creatives have the most desirable effect on campaign performance.

The price is not always right

It might seem commonsensical to include the price tag when your banner’s prime objective is to sell something. But is it really effective? RTB House discovered that people are more prone to click on a banner which does not inform them about the cost of a product or service. Creatives without a price tag achieved a 12% better results compared to similar ads that included a price in the creative. For marketing pros, creatives without a price tag achieved an average CTR (the relation between the number of clicks and ad displays) of 0.64%.
REASON: RTB House’s analysis shows that fewer elements on a banner is better. “Simplicity tends to increase effectiveness, so keeping prices out of banners is worth considering before a campaign starts,” Daniel Surmacz from RTB House points out. “It’s important to remember that different things work for a given campaign, and will not necessarily bring the same effect in another one. Shops featuring discount prices might appeal more to the users if attractive price is the main draw.”

Go big on product display

How many products should you fit into a banner? In this case, more is more. RTB House analyzed thousands of creatives in real-world campaigns containing 2, 3, 4 or 12 items. The conclusion was that users tended to click most on banners containing 12 items. Creatives containing 12 products achieved an average CTR at 0.55%, which is by 20%, 17% and 15% better than for ads with 3, 2 and 4 products, respectively.
REASON: “The more space available on a banner, the bigger opportunity to present a broader offer.
A good strategy is to show a user the products they have expressed interest in and then also include products that complement their interests. This kind of display is made possible thanks to recommendation mechanisms used in retargeting campaigns,” adds Daniel Surmacz of RTB House.

Your logo is great. Your offer is greater

It turns out that the effectiveness of an advertising campaign also depends on the position of the logo. RTB House found that ads with a logo situated in the bottom part of a creative performed 7% better than banners with a logo at the top. The average CTR of the bottom-logo banners fluctuates around 0.63% while top-logo banners averaged 0.59%.
REASON: Daniel Surmacz of RTB House notes, “a logo in the upper part of a creative might seem like the ideal spot, but results showed behaviors trended away from this common sense notion. In some cases the logo might have taken space of the product, offer, or message, which in many cases, is more important than the identity that produced it.”

Test, test, modify

It’s important to remember that what works in one industry, will not necessarily prove effective in another. A piece of good advice is to always test different types of creatives and optimize at each stage of the campaign. Several years ago, banners prepared at the onset remained unadjusted throughout whole campaign. Nowadays, modifying them as they proceed is a better practice.
“As technology providers for advertisers, we can’t forget that for large-scale advertising activities, even seemingly small changes in the CTR ultimately translate into higher ROI”, concludes Daniel Surmacz.
The data used in this research was derived from personalized retargeting tools developed by RTB House. The analysis covered selected campaigns served by the company in June 2015.

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