Click-through rates unrelated to mobile advertising performance: study

A study of mobile display advertising has found click-through rates are often unrelated or even negatively correlated to actions signalling engagement, such as information seeking and store visits.


The study, by Nielsen and mobile ad platform xAd, analysed a standardised set of 320x50px banner advertisements for 12 US national brands, across 80 campaigns for the retail, restaurant and automotive industries.

Metrics studied were click-through rates (CTR), secondary action rates (SAR) – phone calls or seeking of more information – and store visitation lift (SVL).


Increasing click-through rates decreases secondary actions

The results revealed that CTRs were often unrelated or even negatively correlated to actions signalling engagement such as phone calls, seeking directions and visiting a store.

As campaigns were optimised to achieve higher CTRs, SARs decreased; CTR performed up to 38% better but SAR dropped by up to 69%.

The principle worked the other way around too, although less extreme. Optimising campaigns for SAR decreased CTR by about 25%. SAR optimisation improved that metric by more than 200%.

“In order to quantify the true ROI of a campaign, marketers need to rethink what they consider success,” the report said.

“Driving awareness, engagement and conversions are separate goals, often requiring different techniques to ensure optimal performance.”


Click-through rates don’t necessarily increase store visits

The study found a link between the lowest CTRs and the highest rates of offline in-store visits.

“When it comes to mobile advertising, sometimes the brand message in the banner ad is sufficient to drive in store visitation, and a click isn’t even needed to drive consumers in-store,” the report said.

A key finding was that customers use mobile technology differently for different industries.

SVLs were far higher for automotive (69.53%) than restaurants (16.92%) or retail (14.05%).

xAd determined that SVL was the most effective measurement for mobile advertising, as physical businesses still drove most commerce.

“Marketers should clearly define campaign goals at the start of the campaign and drive to only those metrics that support the overall goal,” the report said.


Michelle Herbison
BY Michelle Herbison ON 23 September 2014
Assistant editor, Marketing Magazine.