What is a good click through rate (CTR)?

When measuring the effectiveness of a paid campaign, one of the first questions the bean-counters will ask is, ‘What was the CTR?’ Without doubt CTR is invaluable in measuring the effectiveness of an online advertising campaign.  It can be defined as the number of clicks received divided by the number of impressions generated. For example, an ad that is displayed 1,000 times and receives 10 clicks has a click-through rate of 1 percent. Seems fairly straightforward. But not so. The ad channel has a significant impact on defining whether the CTR percentage is deemed as adequate.Search and display channel results are very different. We tend to see higher CTRs in search because the consumer is looking for specific information, and is therefore more likely to click when they find it. With display ads, the viewer is passive – doing something else when the ad is served to them.

The reason that so much importance is place on CTR when evaluating campaign is that the CTR can be an indicator of how relevant an ad is to the searcher or to the audience targeted. It can demonstrate interest in a product message or show what “resonates” with consumers..

According to Lisa Raehsler, Principal Strategist, Big Click Co. several factors can impact CTR of an ad, which is why there is no definitive answer to the question. A few of the factors to consider include:

  • Audiences and targeting
  • B2B or B2C
  • Brand or non-branded
  • A keyword’s place in the search funnel
  • Ad copy’s creative messaging – CTA
  • Type of offer
  • Display URL
  • Images/design
  • Industry competitiveness

Another channel factor to consider is what Andrew Chen describes as The Law of Shitty Clickthroughs. The basic premise being that the CTR of banner ads, email invites and other marketing channels on the web gave decayed every year since they were invented. He argues that what is saving online campaign is that new channels are constantly being unveiled. He also lists the factors that are influencing this decline, which we won’t go into here bar for one (for no other reason than I like the image below) which is ‘novelty’. For advertisers this means that users become bored with the same ad formats and creatives and for publishers it means that users become familiar with ad layouts on their site and begin ignoring them – banner blindness.. Which brings us to the aforementioned image which is from an eye tracking study by Jacob Nielsen.

Banner Blindness

Example of Banner Blindness

We can clearly see how users are choosing to almost completely ignore banner advertising.

So, as we have demonstrated, deciding whether your CTR of 0.2% is an adequate results for your marketing efforts can be quite difficult. In the end I think you need to look at the bigger picture.If your campaign is achieving its goals in terms of traffic, sales, awareness etc. that it must be deemed a success. Click through rates are not the be all and end all.


Search Campaigns – Adwords Quality Score

Google Adwords are an important element of any search campaign. They drive qualified leads towards your website by picking keywords relevant to your business and allowing targeted customers to qualify themselves as leads by searching for your chosen keywords. However, the success of any Adwords campaign ultimately depends upon the infamous Google quality score.

Google always wants to make sure that the most qualified pages are showing up in their queries. This makes sure the people using their search engine get the most relevant sites regarding content, combined with the best navigation and overall ease of use. Its quality score is an estimation of how relevant your landing page, keywords, and ads are to the keyword you’re targeting. It also relates to the people viewing your content, where your ad will be located on the page, and how much Google is going to charge you for your ad location. It is really important that campaign manager understand the Google rating sysyem in order to optimise their campaigns as higher Quality Scores typically lead to lower costs and better ad positions.

You  can find out your Quality Score for any of your keywords, and there are several things you can do to help improve your Quality Score.

Improving Your Google Quality Score

Improving Your Google Quality Score


The importance of Search Engine Optimisation

When planning digital marketing campaigns, search engine optimisation (SEO) is too often the poor second cousin. But it really should be this way.

What is SEO?
SEO is performed on your own website be developing professional, quality  content that answers a question or solves a problem for a search engine user. Well written copy on your website begins with relevant keyword selection. Then you develop a range of pages that help search engine users answer a question or solve a problem. Page title, heading, meta-tags and the actual copy on the page are all important pieces of the SEO puzzle.

An important point to remember is that most people search for needs, not for brands, therefore you need to understand your consumers in order to be able to anticipate their needs, which will better inform the optimisation of your site.

Why is SEO so important?
According to ComReg there are over 3 million adults online in Ireland, 81% of the adult population and the most popular website in Ireland is www.google.ie. Obviously, we all know that people visit Google to search for ‘stuff’ and there are a multitude of studies demonstrating how page-ranking on Google search results impacts the traffic to your site. Studies have shown that the first 3 search results attract almost 55% of the clicks, with the first result getting twice as many as the second. So without a shadow of a doubt, the answer to this question is yes, SEO is important, in fact it is vital.

So you understand SEO and its importance and have decided to undertake a SEO strategy. But don’t expect results overnight. It takes time for SEO work to take effect and is a gradual process of improvement that requires ongoing work. Not only must you constantly monitor your own performance and react accordingly, any shift or change in a search engines algorithms can majorly affect your performance.

There is also a misconception that SEO traffic is ‘free’ traffic. This in fact couldn’t be further from the truth. You are not in competition with Google but rather the price for SEO is set by a companies competition. Its a battle against every search result ahead of you and if they’re winning, you’re losing.

But these issues aside, an effective SEO strategy is not impossible and is worth undertaking as the rewards are so great. Educate yourself about your consumers NEEDS, have PATIENCE, invest in RESOURCES, constantly monitor performance and have a dynamic and flexible strategy and SEO has the power to be the most important element of your online campaigns.

‘Tron Legacy’ Case Study – Social Media Measurement

We all know that social media strategies are an important to our digital strategies. But when it comes to measuring the impact of social media upon our campaigns and brands many organisations are at a loss. Although social media monitoring is quite difficult, it is not impossible. There are various free tools you can use such as Google Alerts and Tweet Deck etc. however paid for tools usually offer greater depth and insights. In Ireland there are a few companies offering social monitoring tools including Kantor Monitoring and O’Leary Analytics.

In late 2010, Disney released Tron Legacy in Irish cinemas and at the time were just beginning to commence their social media activities in Ireland and wanted to gauge where they were in order to form a baseline for future strategies. Disney employed O’Leary Analytics to analyse its social media campaign for Tron between October 17th 2010 and January 12th 2011. O’Leary analysed Blogs, Twitter, Message Boards, Wiki and Youtube.

They analysed the data using the following parameters:

Sentiment: Calculated using an algorithm of positive and negative keywords, and their proximity to the keyword “Tron Legacy” in the content.

Author Popularity: Calculated using a variety of parameters including, but not limited to: Total number of followers / Total number of posts/tweets / Length of time registered / etc

Some of the results are highlighted in the graphs below:

Tron Legacy Social Media Coverage

Tron Legacy Social Media Coverage Day by Day – Dec 1st to Dec 14th 2010

What areas of Social Media are Tron Legacy being mentioned in

What areas of Social Media are Tron Legacy being mentioned in

the demographic of those talking about Tron Legacy in Social Media

the demographic of those talking about Tron Legacy in Social Media

They key findings of the report were:

  • Over 1,900 comments / tweets / blogs / posts were published.
  • Twitter was the main arena for Tron Legacy conversations.
  • Boards.ie was the single biggest website for Tron conversations online in Ireland.
  • Key influencers – including high profile twitter accounts – commented on the film.
  • The premier, good reviews, visual effects and the soundtrack led to positive sentiment online.
  • Poor reviews in media / social media led to negative sentiment online.
  • Positive / Negative ratio is (a staggering) 17:1

What’s that buzz? – Social Media Measurement

With the rising popularity in social media use among users and brands, social media measurement is becoming more and more important. Brands need to be focused on listening to their consumers in order to facilitate conversations with them, thats a given, but how do we accurately measure the return from social media campaigns. Its a tricky issue and In the IAB’s Social Business Survey conducted with LBi, 27% of business respondents didn’t know how social success was measured in their organisations. Only 17% of those polled measured the ROI on social initiatives.

In the current economic environment organisations will be looking more and more towards attributable sales. That is to say, which elements of their marketing campaigns were the most effective in leading to conversions.

Therefore, if you are proposing a paid social media campaign, and all social media campaign are effectively paid campaigns due to resources needed, it is vital to build in ROI metrics in order to obtain buy in.

The current trend in social media measurement is to measure:

  • Reach – pageviews, followers, likes, subscribers and fans
  • Actions – likes, shares and retweets
  • Engagement – level of interaction, comments etc.

However, Reach can be further divided into:

  • Exposure – visits, views etc
  • Influence – share of voice, sentiment.

So now we know the metrics we need to measure ROI from a Social Media campaign, how do we actually go about it? The following info graphic details an effective strategy.

Measuring the ROI of Social Media

Measuring the ROI of Social Media

According to, Dilip Venkatachari, CEO of Compass Labs, when you are looking to build your social plans you need to consider the following metrics:

  • Share of voice. How does your brand’s presence stack up against your competitive set in terms of not just audience size (number of fans, followers, pinners, etc.), but level of engagement? How engaged are your customers compared to your competitors? How many people are talking about your brand, in what context, and how frequently?
  • Conversations. Are you having conversations with your customers? If not, you need to re-examine your content strategy – conversations put the “social” in social media. Stop speaking at your audience and start speaking with them. Creating dialogues will increase your brand affinity and begin to tip the revenue scales in your favor.
  • Advocates. Do you have any “super fans” or “super followers”? If you do, are you leveraging their passion for your brand? If not, you are missing out on a huge opportunity to dial up your earned media and tap into extended audiences who may not use your brand today, but may now be compelled to try it, thanks to Aunt Susie’s glowing recommendation. These wonderful brand ambassadors may be among your fans, simply waiting for you to notice, engage, and activate them.
  • Product guidance. Are you asking your customers questions to learn what they like or dislike about your product or service? Social provides marketers and enterprises access to a huge, free real-time focus group. Organizations need to leverage social networks to help guide product direction, because in the end it will you save your company from making timely and costly mistakes. Often you don’t even need to ask; simply listen. As an example, Lands’ End recently changed the zipper on one of its popular children’s jackets, and the comments about the poor quality of the new zipper were deafening in the social space. Lands’ End may not have asked, but I can’t imagine that it hasn’t heard the overwhelming response. I strongly suspect it will be bringing back the old zipper next year.

A social media strategy and its measurement then is more of a long term strategy rather than focusing on the immediate ROI.

We must remember to be proactive, listen and bring the conversations closer. And above all, be prepared for what you may discover!

Display Advertising Measurement for Mobile

Display advertising is a type of online advertising that comes in several forms, including banner ads, rich media and more. Unlike text-based ads, display advertising relies on elements such as images, audio and video to communicate an advertising message. Mobile usage is accelerate at a remarkable pace, with the latest statistics indicating that smartphone penetration is at 108% in Ireland with approximately €64.9m spent on mobile advertising in 2011 with approximately €20.7 of that being spent on display. This was a 41% YoY growth. In many quarters, display mobile ad usage is still viewed with precaution, and this is mainly due to the issue of measurement with advertisers and publishers left guessing.  According to Stefan Bardega, head of mobile innovation at MediaCom, ‘If you can’t prove it works, you’ve got no chance. The big issue on the brand space is we’re still tracking brand effectiveness for mobile display advertising with direct response rates’. 

Display ads in the mobile world are still at an embryonic stage and this creates unique problems for advertisers and publishers alike. 

According to a 2012 Marchex study into the real value of mobile advertising:

  • It can take an average of nearly 500,000 impressions to generate a quality phone call.
  • Mobile display advertising is significantly overpriced when it comes to acquiring new customers.
  • Clicks are not indicative of customer intent. This means there can be high rates of accidental clicks on mobile display ads.
  • Mobile display ad performance varies wildly. In one case, a campaign that got 1.4 million impressions did not result in one quality phone call.

Tracking mobile advertising provides very unique problems including standard measurements and at the moment nobody seems to have cracked it. Currently, there is no industry standard measurement criteria  for mobile display advertising, although certain bodies, such as IAB have put forward proposals in the Mobile Web Advertising Measurement Guidelines. However, the technology to implement these proposals is still in development. As somebody who works for a client, it is vital that I can demonstrate ROI and at present there is no clear definition for a mobile impression or unique mobile user. Another issue is the lack of integration between mobile websites and mobile apps. When that happens, as well as a standardisation in measurement criteria, mobile campaigns will be able to expand on the basic ad currencies of CPM and CTR that help interpret data. Additional mobile metrics, like dwell time and interaction rates by component, will truly make mobile campaigns more useful.

The importance of Benchmarking in Social Media Measurement

What’s the difference between a ping pong ball and Uranus? Sounds like a strange question, perhaps, but take a look at the image below. can you tell which it is?

Ping pong ball or Uranus?

Is this a ping pong ball or the planet Uranus?

The answer is most likely no. Unless you have some point of reference or benchmark, this question is impossible to answer. The very same is true when if comes to measuring the effectiveness of social media strategy. Without comparative benchmarking most metrics are completely meaningless. Digital marketers must compare benchmarks with other online activity, industry averages and channels and historical data. Now take a look at this second image.

Solar System

Much easier to identify the object as Uranus when placed in context.

When operating a social media strategy, it is important to understand the value of  benchmarks regarding where you are at and where you want to be. If you do not set these benchmarks in the initial stages, you will fail to have accurate and measurable impact.

But before you set your benchmarks, you must of course identify your KPI’s. In social media, there are three parameters for setting KPI’s:

  • Social Media Platform
  • The 4 A’s – Awareness, Appreciation, Action and Advocacy
  • Soft Metrics and Hard Financials

Once you have Identifies your KPI’s you will then be able to set your benchmarks which will help identify how to capture related sites and entities around specific keywords and brand terms.

These benchmarks will be used continually through your campaign in order to provide a method of monitoring progress, proving value and maximiser return on investment.