Numbers Big and Small

One thing that takes a little getting used to when you enter the world of online advertising is the large and small numbers you are dealing with.

For example, on Design*Sponge, if you advertised with us for a month, your ad would likely be seen more than 7 million times. That’s a lot of times! And it sounds like a lot of times. But if your ad is seen 7 million times, how often can you expect your ad to get clicked on? 20%? 10%? What if it is a really good ad? 30%?


Above average click thru rates are not in the 10-30% range. They are not even in the 1-3% range. That’s right– an amazingly successful ad on a design site will likely not even have a click thru rate of 1%. According to industry standards, your ad is doing above average if its click thru rate is above .1%. Talk about sounding small.

How could that be true? Well, how many websites do you look at a day? How many times do you go to Google? The NYTimes? Facebook? Or maybe you are like me and have a fondness for sites with pictures of cute animals on them (I’ll see you over at Cute Overload in a few minutes!). Just think about how many times a day you look at Design*Sponge.

Chances are you spend a good portion of your day online and look at many different web sites. And probably every single one of those sites are showing you ads-not just one ad but many ads. Ads of different sizes and shapes. Text ads, animated ads-great ads and terrible ads. How often do you click on those ads? Probably not that often.

Did I really just write that? On a blog about online advertising? That you probably don’t click on online ads very often?

Well, it’s probably true. And having that perspective gives you a better lens to analyze the success of your online ad campaign. If you know that the average click thru rate on a site is .1% and your ad gets .2%, then you should feel like your ad was a great success! It means it got twice as many clicks as other ads typically do on that site. Clearly your product or company is resonating with the readers. If your CTR is lower than that, it could mean that the target audience might not be the best fit for your company. Or, it could mean you might want to try out a new ad (I’ll write more on how to handle low CTRs later).

No matter what your CTR is, it helps to have something to compare it to. I think first-time advertisers can find it a little bit strange when I send them a note saying congratulations on their high click through rate and their CTR is .6%. Because that just sounds like a small number. But in the world of online advertising, that is a very big number.

And don’t forget how that might translate. If your ad was seen 7 million times, a .6% CTR works out to 42,000 clicks-now doesn’t that sound like a lot of clicks? That’s because it is!

So whether you advertise with us or on other sites, don’t be afraid to ask questions when you are hearing numbers that sound really big or really small and you aren’t sure how to make sense of it all. The ad team can help put things in context for you so you can go back to going about your important daily business…Cute Overload, here I come!

One Comment

  1. Farmgirl Susan

    on 26th Aug, 10 03:08pm

    Thank you so much for creating this blog. I’ve already gleaned all sorts of interesting and helpful information from the first posts and the ad design report (loved it). I had no idea what the industry considers a successful CTR, and you’re right, the % numbers do sound small! : )

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