Click-Through Rate (CTR)

It’s time to play “name that advertising acronym.” The alphabet trio we’re spotlighting today is: CTR. (Never to be confused with CPR!) It appears in nearly every advertising campaign discussion, but it’s worth stepping back and reviewing what it is and what it really means for performance.

CTR is shorthand for Click-Through Rate, a ratio that measures the number of times an ad was clicked per number of times it was served across sites, apps, search results and more. It’s one of the easier formulas in our world. Simply divide the number of clicks by the number of impressions and—boom—you have your CTR.

For example: An ad served 100 times and clicked by 12 users, gives us 12/100, which we simplify to either 12% or .12 to get our CTR.

CTR Infographic
CTR Pillar Page_Banner 1.jpg

What To Look For

OK, so what’s a good CTR vs. a bad one?

In general, the higher the CTR, the better your campaign is resonating with your audience. Users are intrigued enough to click in the hope of learning more about your offering or even buying it on the spot. Many platforms and agencies provide CTR benchmarks that give you an idea of what you’re aiming for with your ads.

A low CTR suggests you’re not reaching the right audience and/or you’re not using the right messaging. Most advertisers A/B test messaging and imagery and use the resulting CTR rates to optimize their creative. The winning message and image combo points the way forward for future creative spins.

Average Click Through Rate.png

So, a high CTR always means success?

Not always. If you have a high CTR paired with low conversion rates, you have a problem. It could be technical: a broken link, a missing web page. Or it could be a user-journey problem: users land on your site and then drop off. This often indicates a disparity between what your ad promises and how your site answers it. If you tout a race car in an ad and offer up a jalopy on a site page, you’ll see why your CTR is high and your conversion is low.

CTR Pillar Page_Banner 2.jpg

Let’s Talk Clicks…

How do I increase my CTRs?

Precision Targeting 

You can have the best message out there, but if it’s going to the wrong audience, impressions won’t add up to clicks. It’s important to analyze your targeting criteria, like keywords, to assure you’re reaching your target. Specificity helps, as do segmented campaigns.

Great Creative

A great ad is like a great meal—a mix of ingredients—copy, imagery, animation—expertly prepared to appeal to your target audience. Below are a few best practices from our Mobile Creative 101 guide. 

  • Product Focus

    • Make your product the star of the ad, so there’s no confusion about what you’re selling and a user is buying. A great product image is key.

  • Urgency

    • There’s nothing like “limited time” or “flash sale” to inspire faster action from users. A specific end date means your audience knows not to wait too long to act.

  • Creativity

    • Bold colors, inventive animation, unique formats and things like gamefied interactions capture user eyes and prompt interaction. Some of these decisions will have to account for both platform opportunities and limitations.

  • Strong Offer

    • Make your offer too good to ignore. Free trials, amazing savings, limited time promotions are all great ways to pull users in and prompt them to click. Make sure the message around the offer is clear.

  • Clear CTA

    • There we go with another acronym! The CTA is the Call to Action, and it’s a vital means of encouraging users to act on your message. It’s often a button or text followed by an arrow. It’s good to test CTAs to see what really works.

So, CTRs are king?

That’s maybe a little strong, but the truth is they are crucial to your campaign’s success and a great way to track performance—and optimize it. Simply swapping out an image or a copy line in a digital ad can change CTR greatly and provide you with important insights on what resonates with your audience. Every click an ad earns is not just useful for your current campaign, but a great best-practice lesson for every initiative thereafter. If you’d like to dig even deeper into CTRs, our team is always here with the BAE (Best Advice Ever. Ok, that’s an acronym spin we made up.)

Suggested Articles

For more information regarding CTR and other KPIs, please reference the following: