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Average display advertising clickthrough rates (CTRs) – 2020 compilation

Author's avatar By Dave Chaffey 11 Sep, 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 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.

To learn more about online advertising options across you can download our Digital Media Options Cheatsheet to check techniques you may be missing out on.

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Display Ad CTR benchmarks - September 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?

As of September, the Q1 2020 ad benchmark report from AdStage is still the most up to date industry source. Naturally, it's been a very challenging year for marketers, so we will make do with this report for now. Here are the stats and summaries for their clients in North America:

Google Ads Search 2020 Benchmarking

In Q1 2020, median CTR for ads on Google Search decreased from 2.5% to 1.55%. CTR
remains lower than we observed in 2019, down 44% year over year.

Key Takeaways
● CTR decreased by 38% since Q4 2019
● CTR decreased by 44% year over year since Q1 2019

Google Ads Search benchmarks 2020

Google Ads Display 2020 Benchmarking

Median CTR for ads on Google Display Network decreased by 32% since last quarter. CTR
fell below last years performance, coming in 41% lower year over year.

Key Takeaways
● CTR decreased 32% since Q4 2019
● CTR decreased 41% year over year since Q1 2019

Google Ads Display Network benchmarks 2020

Unfortunately, Google has removed Doubleclick.  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.

Previous Doubleclick data shows 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.

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

Again, we will use the Q1 2020 ad benchmark report from AdStage as our primary data source. 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 ad benchmark data

Other 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, 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:

 

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?

Although 2020 benchmarking research is not as plentiful as in previous years, there's one thing we're sure of - rapid changes in customer behaviour. Here's a summary from the Merke Digital Marketing Q2 Report comparing Ad spend, clicks and CPCP against the previous year.

Google Search Ad clicks YOY

This interesting pie chart comparison from the Social Bakers Q2 Report shows which industries have received the most (and least) interactions on Facebook and Instagram in Quarter 2. It has certainly been a remarkable quarter, with ecommerce, featuring heavily in both Facebook and Instagram interactions - it will be interesting to watch if this trend continues as we adjust to 'the new normal'.

Social media interactions across industries

There is no detailed data for 2020 yet, but here's the 2019 Google Ads engagement stats from WordStream - for clickthrough rates and conversion, broken down by 16 sectors.

These stats are higher than the Google average since they only represent accounts managed by WordStream.

"The average click through rate in Google Ads across all industries is 5.06% on the search network and 0.50% on the display network."

Here, the highest CTR is for the travel industry, unfortunately the reports from 2020 (covered above) tell a different story.

Google Ad CTR

 

Google Ads Conversion Rate

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.

2015-10-01_06-06-35

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

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
Author'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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