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Average display advertising clickthrough rates (CTRs) – 2020 compilation

Author's avatar By Dave Chaffey 11 May, 2020
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US, Europe and Worldwide ad clickthrough rates statistics comparing display ads to paid social and Google Ads CTRs

I've put this compilation together to help marketing professionals and students studying interactive marketing create direct response conversion models for digital marketing campaigns. Through creating budget models using known benchmarks for clickthrough rates and average costs for digital media you can better forecast your return-on-investment from digital media ads. This data is particularly useful if you haven't previously invested in advertising on publisher sites through ad networks or paid social media ads since it can help make the case and set expectations with colleagues or clients of the number of visits based on quantitative forecasts.

When I originally compiled these stats from different sources, social media ads were only in their infancy, but they are now established as a mainstay of online advertising. More recently I have added a comparison of CTRs for Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter and paid search rates (Google Ads or SEM) in this post.

To learn more about online advertising options across you can download this free cheatsheet to check techniques you may be missing out on.

If you're looking to get more from your display advertising we have a premium members' paid media playbook.

Display Ad CTR benchmarks - May 2020 update

Through 2020 we will update our statistics summaries with the latest research as it becomes available. Stats are in three sections which answer these questions:

  • Q. What are overall display ad CTRs?
  • Q. What are social media ad clickthrough rates - a comparison of Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter CTRs?
  • Q. What are Google Ads (formerly AdWords) display network clickthrough rates by sector?

One of the best sources for online ad clickthrough benchmark data to compare against is now from AdStage. We summarize their latest CTRs for Facebook, Instagram and Twitter when answering the second question.

Q. What are overall display ad CTRs?

Across all ad formats and placements display ad CTR is just 0.05%

The best source for display ad CTR benchmarks was originally Doubleclick (the display advertising part of Google) who had a regularly updated interactive Display Benchmarking tool as part of Rich Media Gallery. You could select by country, sector and ad format to create your own benchmarks.

Unfortunately, Google had not been updating this for several years and have now removed it completely.  So now we can only present previous data. No other alternatives are available as far as I'm aware. Please let me know via LinkedIn if you have good quality representative data we can share.

So, this is just than 5 clicks per 10000 impressions showing the difficulty of driving direct response from online display or banner ads. Perhaps that is why Google no longer publishes this data...

While this is a really low CTR, however you look at it, cross-media optimization research we have seen show that online ads do help increase brand awareness and purchase intent, particularly when combined with offline media. It's not the case that the majority of ad viewers have 'banner blindness' and are not aware of ads which are viewable placements. If this were the case, businesses wouldn't invest in the level of display and programmatic ads that they do.

Tests from the likes of Dynamic Logic and Millward Brown conclusively show that display ads also encourage site visits (view throughs) and searches even where people don't click on ads.

We also see much higher CTRs online for other online ad formats like Google AdWords and Facebook - these can exceed 1%, so are more effective in driving volume and also typically have higher intent, so conversion rates are higher.

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What are social media ad clickthrough rates - a comparison of Facebook and Twitter CTRs?

The latest Q1 2020 ad benchmark report from ad tracking service AdStage is one of the best sources for comparing ad CTRs. Here are the media CTRs for their clients in North America.

Facebook ad CTR

The average Facebook CTR in the newsfeed is 1.11%. This is trending downwards; a decrease of 0.37% compared to the previous year.

Other data reported includes:

  • CTR on the right side placement averages just 0.16%.
  • Facebook Stories have an average CTR of 0.79%.
  • Facebook Audience network is 0.69% (mainly used for promoting apps such as gaming apps on publisher sites and in apps). This uses a range of ad formats such as display, native and video.

Nanigans have a Q3 2019 Facebook benchmark report which breaks out different forms of ads - these have a higher CTR:

Instagram ad CTR

Instagram ad clickthrough rate in the feed is 0.22%, significantly lower than in the previous year and much lower compared to Facebook. This reflects the visual nature of Insta which doesn't offer opportunities for CTR in organic newsfeeds (other than Stories). Benchmarks for Stories are a little higher at 0.33%.

LinkedIn Ad CTR

Although the audience is quite different since LinkedIn targets B2B audiences, there is a similar CTR in LinkedIn of 0.22%.

Twitter Ad CTR

Twitter has a higher clickthrough rate, although there is a significant decrease in the last quarter. Fewer impressions are served to Adstage customers in this category so this insight should be treated with caution.

Other sector / industry social media media ad benchmark data

Other social media reporting services like Social Bakers and the Merkle Digital Marketing benchmark reports also have useful reports benchmarking different advertising metrics across organic and paid search (Google Ads) plus different social networks including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, but don't report absolute CTR probably because this is not permitted by their terms of service with Facebook and Google.  However, if you're involved in improving your ad effectiveness we recommend reviewing the latest:

There is also a newer 2017 research Facebook Ad CTR from WordStream's Facebook advertising customers showing that across sectors clickthrough rates (CTRs) vary from around 0.5% through to 1.6%. Note that this page is shown as updated as 2020 data on the Wordstream site and has been used by Instapage in their compilation which has a clearer graph of CTR. We caution use in this industry comparison since it is now 3 years out-of-date, but wanted to alert you to it since it's published on other sites.

Pay-per-click or SEM clickthrough rates (e.g. AdWords and Bing)

These statistics are courtesy of the Adobe Digital Index reports, published annually for their customers across 200 billion site visits.

paid search (AdWords) clickthrough rates

Of course, these figures are averages and in reality, CTRs tend to be higher for brand searches.

We also have a comparison of Google Clickthrough rates by position.

Q. What are Google Ads (formerly AdWords) display network clickthrough rates by sector?

Note :This data from Wordstream was last updated in 2017/2018 although their website post date suggests it was more recent. We will update this post if more data becomes available. 

This cross-industry Google Ads clickthrough rate and conversion benchmark from Wordstream gives data comparing Google Ads CTRs for the search results against Google Ads display ad network which is typically an image or text-based banner format.

The average click-through rate in Google Ads across all industries is 3.17% on the search network and 0.46% on the display network.

It's no surprise that the CTR on the search network is much higher than in the display network since in the search network, searchers are typing in product and brand names when they have specific intent so the ads are more relevant. This isn't the case in the display network where they are responding to banner and text ads, typically on publisher sites.

Here are the results from twenty different industries which could be useful if you are a startup modelling conversion rates as part of a business plan, or if you want a top-level comparison for your activities with others in your industry.

Of course, the outcome that is measured as conversion rate will vary according to the sector and depending on the type of keyword. Brand searches always have higher clickthrough and conversion rates than generic searches, for example. For retail, the outcome will be conversion to sale, but in many other sectors show, the conversion will be conversion to lead.

Wordstream also have mobile CTR data from this post: Google Ads Mobile Benchmarks for YOUR Industry, but this doesn't present current data.

Note that more recently Google  introduced Responsive Display ads on the Google Display Network as the default ad type. These involve uploading your assets (images, headlines, logos, videos and descriptions) and Google will automatically generate ads to be shown on the Google Display Network. Reports from early adopters suggest that these can have relatively high CTRs. This example of CTRs compared a Google Ads campaign provided by Smart Insights Expert commentator David Miles. It shows the uplift he received when testing this new format.

Example of ad performance with Google Responsive ads

Historical data for context - comparison of display, search (AdWords) and social ads CTRs

Since the Google-Doubleclick data is no longer available we're unable to update this data, but we have kept it in this post since it may be useful for readers to understand historic trends in CTR.

This comparison of average online media clickthrough rates from Marin is useful for modelling the response of digital media for top-level budgets.Search vs social vs ad CTRs

Facebook ad clickthrough rates by sector

Facebook offers different forms of ad formats with different goals will naturally vary in response as these retail Facebook ads from. You can see that Facebook ad CTRs which may be more highly targeted that display ads have significantly higher CTRs, particularly for Lead generation (i.e. adding subscribers to a retailers email list) and Dynamic Product ads (retargeting visitors who have already visited a site with relevant offers).  

Wordstream also have these summary Facebook ad CTRs by sector:

These Facebook Ad CTRs for different types of ad formats are taken from a test run by Smart Insights contributor Marie Page. They show that by using targeting in Facebook it's possible to improve on general Internet ad clickthough rates.

Boosted vs Promoted post vs ad results

The challenge of online ad viewabililty

Viewability is another issue for advertisers to consider when evaluating online ad effectiveness as measured by clickthrough rates. Ad blocking also has an impact since ad blockers have increased in popularity across countries and demographics, accounting for 35% of ads in some countries.

Viewability refers to the percentage of ads in a campaign or on a publisher site that are potentially available for clickthrough. Just 44.9% of all ads are clickable according to Google-published viewability data since ads may be below the fold and users do not scroll to see them. This varies across publisher and content category.

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Given the impact of viewability and ad blocking on online ad clickthrough rates you can see that there are moves in the industry to only charge for viewable ads, which with increasing options for native advertising will potentially improve the effectiveness of ads.

Variation in online ad clickthrough rates by country

This is historic data for reference - for the latest use the interactive Display benchmarking tool.

Region Overall Click-through Rate Percent (%)
North America
Canada 0.09%
United States 0.10%
EMEA
Austria 0.11%
Belgium 0.13%
Denmark 0.12%
Finland 0.05%
France 0.12%
Germany 0.11%
Greece 0.17%
Ireland 0.10%
Italy 0.10%
Luxembourg 0.09%
Netherlands 0.14%
Norway 0.11%
Spain 0.12%
Sweden 0.08%
Switzerland 0.12%
United Arab Emirates 0.18%
United Kingdom 0.07%
JAPAC
Australia 0.07%
China 0.12%
Hong Kong 0.17%
India 0.18%
Malaysia 0.30%
Singapore

0.19%

Source: DoubleClick for Advertisers, a cross section of regions, January and December 2009, Published July 2010

For latest data see Doubleclick Display Ad Benchmark Statistics.

Variation in online ad Clickthrough Rates by ad format

Ad clickthrough rate naturally varies according to placement (position on screen) and ad format (shape and size). The traditional full-banner performs very poorly compared to skyscrapers, the ubiquitous medium rectangle and the newer large rectangle format.

Variation in online ad Interaction Rates by ad format

Interaction rates differ for different ad formats in a similar way to ad formats.

Interaction rate definition:

Interactions are defined as the user does one or more of the following:

  • Mouses over the ad for 1 continuous second
  • Clicks an Exit link
  • Makes the ad display in Full Screen mode
  • Expands the ad
Auhtor's avatar

By Dave Chaffey

Digital strategist Dr Dave Chaffey is co-founder and Content Director of online marketing training platform and publisher Smart Insights. Dave is editor of the 100+ templates, ebooks and courses in the digital marketing resource library created by our team of 25+ digital marketing experts. Our resources are used by our Premium members in more than 100 countries to Plan, Manage and Optimize their digital marketing. Free members can access our free sample templates here. Dave is a keynote speaker, trainer and consultant who is author of 5 bestselling books on digital marketing including Digital Marketing Excellence and Digital Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice. My personal site, DaveChaffey.com, lists my latest Digital marketing and E-commerce books and support materials including a digital marketing glossary. In 2004 he was recognised by the Chartered Institute of Marketing as one of 50 marketing ‘gurus’ worldwide who have helped shape the future of marketing. Please connect on LinkedIn to receive updates or ask me a question.

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