Banner ads on websites are ubiquitous sites on the internet. They fund many online content creators are the most common ways businesses try to reach customers online. Like all forms of mass advertising, banner ads work based on showing the ads to a large number of people of which a small percentage will act on the ad. Changes to an ad’s design can lead to small increases in the percentage of consumers who click on the ad. Rocket Fuel recently released a study that shows how consumers respond to different ad styles.
The report, which was released several weeks ago, is based on a comprehensive study that analyzed nearly 40,000 banner ads from 1,076 advertisers, totaling 23.3 billion impressions from November 2013 to June 2014.
The researchers examined how audiences responded to each ad based on things such as background color, whether the ad was static or animated, animation length, call to action, presence of an advertiser logo, presence of people, and whether an ad’s message contained a special or limited-time offer.
“It’s important to quantify the role design plays in the success of advertising campaigns,” said Robert Jones, Research Director at Rocket Fuel. “Using AI to put the right ad in front of the right person is only part of the equation. Our research illuminates how much of an ad’s performance is due to controllable factors like background color or logo placement.”
The data shows that some commonly used tactics don’t work as well as marketers may think. For example, in telecom ads, only 10 percent of ads included an offer for a free phone or tablet even though ads that include such offers average 98 percent higher conversion rates. Similarly, though many marketers place their logos in various places on a banner ad, the research suggests something more standard. Ads with a logo in the lower-left corner of the ad (as opposed to any other location) averaged 81 percent higher conversion rates.
The researchers also noted that small changes can lead to higher conversion rates. For example, ads with human faces averaged 4 percent higher conversion rates and ads that show the product averaged 6 percent higher conversion rates than those that don’t. Additionally, red backgrounds averaged more than 31 percent higher conversion rates. On the other hand, gray backgrounds averaged 8 percent lower.
This sort of research is helpful to marketers and advertisers, but it shouldn’t prevent marketers from experimenting. It’s important to remember that the data given is the average, some ads with gray backgrounds performed higher and some red backgrounds had lower conversion rates.
“Some might look at the data and conclude that it over-prescribes creative opportunities,” said Eric Porres, Rocket Fuel CMO. “But we think the opposite is true. The data illuminates what has worked well in the past, but it doesn’t limit the discovery of what might work in the future. One of the best benefits of programmatic is that it enables affordable and fast real-world testing of literally any idea or hypothesis you can imagine. It opens possibilities – it doesn’t close them.”
The report also offered advice for creating videos. Animated creatives averaged 7 percent higher conversation rates. Similarly, animated ads with 6-9 seconds of animation (including loops) averaged the highest rates among animated creatives and saw conversion rates that were 138 percent higher.
Here are a couple of the other findings:
Ads featuring male celebrities averaged conversion rates 670% higher than ads featuring female celebrities, though ads with female celebrities tended to average the same click-through rates overall.
Volume-based offers for restaurants, e.g. messaging that offered more food at the same price (such as a free side or a buy-one-get-one-free offer) averaged conversion rates 284 percent higher than the average.
The Rocket Fuel report has a lot of good information and is something business owners and marketers should look at. For more research on internet marketing, read this article on recent data from IBM.