What’s a good CTR? Click through rate benchmarks.

Short answer = it depends. Click-through rates (CTR) may be different depending on what kind of an online ad is being used, whether a banner ad, text ad, video ad, animated ad, email links, or whatever else. For managers and executives that don’t mind having an simplistic inaccurate answer, an overgeneralized good CTR is ~ 0.07% as of October 2013 according to Ben Kunz.

For email clickthrough rates, see Average Email Campaign Stats of MailChimp Customers by Industry.

For a better understanding of the many variables, read on. Here’s an explanation for why display ad CTRs were .09% on average (2011):

A new research study, co-commissioned by online advertising technology company AdKeeper™ (www.adkeeper.com) and WPP’s 24/7 Real Media (www.247realmedia.com), reports that the top reason people don’t click banner advertisements is because they do not wish to be taken away from their current online activity. The study sought consumer input to explain the 2010 industry average click-through rate (CTR) of 0.09 percent for online advertising.

… For the uninitiate, a CTR, or clickthrough, is the percent of times online users click an ad. So a CTR of .09% means that if 1,000 people see a display ad, only .9 people 1000 x .0009, less than 1 will click it. This seems shocking, even horrific, until one considers that no one clicks a TV ad, billboard, radio, or piece of print.

Here’s another point of reference –

a study by social marketing tool vendor Webtrends and is based on data from more than 11,000 ads that ran in 2009 and 2010. The click-through rate, a critical number for display advertisers, dropped from 0.063% in 2009 to 0.051% in 2010.

According to WordStream, that compares with an average banner ad click-through rate of 0.1% in the U.S. and a 0.4% rate for Google’s display ad network between the end of 2010 and first half of 2011, according to pay-per-click marketing consultancy Periscopix. Google rates are almost eight times higher than Facebook’s.

… According to comScore numbers from October 2011 that WordStream quotes, Facebook reaches an estimated 51% of all Internet users. Google reaches 90%.

Why are CTRs so low for banner ads? “One of the main issues that needs to be addressed if advertising is to provide a sustainable business model for countless websites is that users simply don’t trust popups and banners.”

… If you’re fed up with online advertising, you’re not alone. A recent survey of 100 advertising agency executives found that their clients are losing patience with digital advertising. When asked why, advertisers noted that such ads don’t work very well. Special ire might be reserved for the banner ad, which, 15 years or so after its introduction, still has a click-through rate of 0.1%, or about 1 in 1,000.

… Google’s report, seen as the industry standard, pegged 2010 U.S. click-through rates (CTR) at 0.09% compared to 0.1% in 2009. That means about one person in 1,000 actually clicks on banner ads, despite attempts to make them more inviting.

… the Google report… found that the format of a display ad can make a difference. A 250×250 pixel ad using Flash got the highest CTR of any format — 0.26%. The worst performers were vertical 120×240 banners with Flash and a full (468×60) banner with Flash, which both got rates of 0.05%.

Come to think of it, counting clicks is not a very good measure of advertising; why does digital advertising get the short-end of the stick compared to other modes of advertising?!

“… click-through is actually a poor measure of performance. It’s impossible to click through a billboard ad, for example, but that doesn’t mean it’s not effective. If you drive the same way to work every day for a month and see that same billboard for the new Adam Sandler movie, I’d bet you a Happy Gilmore DVD that you remember the name of the movie, know a bit about the premise and have already decided whether you want to see it or not.

Wikipedia: Click-through rates for banner ads have fallen over time. When banner ads first started to appear, it was not uncommon to have rates above five percent. They have fallen since then, currently averaging closer to 0.2 or 0.3 percent. In most cases, a 2% click-through rate would be considered very successful, though the exact number is hotly debated and would vary depending on the situation. The average click-through rate of 3% in the 1990s declined to 0.1%-0.3% by 2011.

So what are the industry standards? What is a reasonable CTR to aim for? A study by MarketingSherpa reveals different average CTRs for different banner sizes:

160 x 600: 0.14 percent
300 x 250: 0.37 percent
120 x 600: 0.18 percent
728 x 90: 0.27 percent
468 x 60: 0.10 percent
Overall average: 0.21 percent

cf. this chart International click-through rates, %, 2010, based on 500 billion impressions served up globally by Mediamind