Display Advertising Is Not About Click Through Rates

People visit websites for information, entertainment or engagement with other people, not to click on ads that send them somewhere else. This is the very reason that Display advertising on networks like Facebook or even niche sites experience exceptionally low click through rates. But do you need clicks to have a display ad be effective?

I’m going to suggest that when it comes to display advertising, one needed attempt to optimize their campaign for clicks, the way you would do with search or text based ads, but rather optimize for conversions.


Many online advertisers gained experience in the years of the world wide web before Google and Smart Phones existed. The metrics we used in the past are what we’re attempting to use today, unfortunately the landscape has changed and requires marketers to change as well.

Display ads should be looked at as another touch-point of your brand to stimulate awareness and interest rather than a conversion for an instant sale. While someone who clicks on an online ad to purchase a product often times was searching for exactly that specific item, most users who are viewing display advertisements on Facebook or some other site, are not thinking about shopping. But that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t think about your product later and choose to buy it.

Test this theory out for yourself with these two methods.

  • If you’re not already, begin measuring your view-based conversion volume against your click-based conversion volume. You may need to develop a model to better account for the impact of all ads that touched a customer along their path to purchase.
  • Judge your advertising campaigns based on conversion rates rather than purely CTR.

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