In an absolutely astounding experiment, the banner advertising equivalent of dead air -- a blank display ad -- performed better than the average Facebook ad; twice as good as the average "branding" display ad; and only one click in ten thousand worse than the average of all display ads.
Here are the details.
AdAge this week has a piece called How Blank Display Ads Managed to Tot Up Some Impressive Numbers. The article was written by Ted McConnell, exec VP-digital for the Advertising Research Foundation.
Ted and a few friends (an astrophysicist from an online analytics firm, a measurement expert from the Advertising Research Foundation, and an ad-platform wizard from a buying and optimization company) decided to do an experiment. The experiment was designed to discover how much clicking of banner advertising was actual engagement with the ad, and how much was just noise -- people clicking for no reason.
To do this they created a unique ad -- an ad with no message. A blank. According to McConnell...
"We created six blank ads in three IAB standard sizes, and two colors, white and orange. We trafficked the ads via a demand-side platform (DSP) with a low bid. We started with run of exchange, and in another phase trafficked to "named publishers" that would accept unaudited copy."Here are the results:
- The click-through rate on the blank ads was .08%. According to published reports, the click-through rate on the average Facebook ad is about .05%. The blank ad performed 60% better.
- The click through rate for the blank ad was about double the average click-through rate for a "branding" display ad (an ad without an offer.)
- The click-through rate on the average banner ad is .09%. This means the blank ad drew one click in ten thousand fewer than an average banner ad.
- About .04% of the clicks were mistakes. Since the average click-through rate for display ads is .09%, this indicates that it is possible that as much as 44% of banner ad clicks are mistakes.
You simply cannot make this shit up.
Thanks to Tom Donald for alerting me to this story.