The headlines last week were near-breathless, announcing that North American clickthrough rates for web banner advertising are rising!
And that’s true on the face of it: According to a new analysis by advertising management company Sizmek based on billions of online ad impressions, the average engagement (clickthrough) rate on a standard banner ad has actually increased.
It’s risen all the way up to 0.14%.
It means that for a standard banner ad, for every 1,000 times it’s served, 1.4 engagements happen.
Here’s what that also means: Don’t bank your business success on online display advertising.
Of course, there are more ways to advertise online than by using standard banner ads. So-called “rich media” ads – ones that incorporate animation and/or sound – perform substantially better.
But it’s all relative, because “substantially better” in this case means that in North America, achieving an average of 2.1 engagements for every 1,000 times a rich media ad is served.
The situation is even worse than these figures imply, actually. When one considers the incidences when viewers accidentally click through on an ad thanks to an errant mouse or a fat finger, even “one out of a thousand” for engagement isn’t really correct.
The Sizmek analysis found that banner ads in certain industries perform better than those in others. Among the “winners” (if one could characterize it that way) are electronic products, apparel, and other retail advertising.
At the bottom? Automotive, jobs and careers and, ironically, tech and internet advertising.
A glimmer of hope in this continuing saga of hopeless news is in-stream video which, according to the Sizmek study, is generating far higher engagement levels of 1.5% or greater, depending on the degree of interactivity.
But I can’t help but wonder: As the novelty of these newer ad innovations inevitably wears off, won’t we see the same phenomenon occurring over time wherein audiences will become as “blind” to these ads as they are to the standard banner ad today?
As the years roll by and the effectiveness of online banner advertising continues to underwhelm in overwhelming ways, the “drive towards zero” seems to be the relentless theme. I seriously doubt we’re going to see a reversal of that.