Lessons from the Top-Performing Ad Units of 2015

By Bob West


I recently came across a blog post promising “10 unbelievable stats about website advertising.” The basic point of the post was that online audiences are so conditioned to ignore ads and ad click-through rates having fallen so low that website advertising has lost its value.

This is largely true, if you’re advertising on websites with huge consumer audiences, you’re not producing good creative, and, most importantly, you’re not using available technologies to target your ad buy.

However, our extensive data from 19 million ad impressions produced by thousands of digital ads placed by more than 200 clients in the first half of 2015 tells a different story. While many reports talk about benchmark click-through rates (CTRs) of 0.02% – 0.04%, ads on Meister Media’s websites and enewsletters consistently produce CTRs at least 10 times as high!

This summer we pulled out the creative for all of the top-performing enewsletter and online ads that ran across each of our brands in the first half of 2015, and we came away with four key lessons for companies looking to maximize their ads’ CTRs:


  1. Our audiences are more likely to click on ads that clearly speak of value to them.

One of the most common mistakes we see clients make is crafting ad creative that speaks from the advertiser’s perspective and ignores what interests the audience. Your customers likely don’t care about a new formulation or a bigger package size, although this may matter to you and your organization. Growers click on ads that promise to help them solve a problem or improve their operations. Make sure your creative communicate the key point to your target customer!


  1. “New” is not an immediate selling point.

This point relates to the previous one. You might be excited about having a new product, but few growers woke up today wondering where they could get a new product to use. Rather, they’re concerned with finding a solution to a trouble insect or some other problem, whether that solution is an entirely new product or an older one that may be new to them.


  1. Animating ads helps, but it’s not necessary.

I would estimate that about 25% of the digital ads we run include some sort of animation. That’s obviously not a big number, although it’s up dramatically from last year. While we do see some strong CTRs for some animated ads, we also see animated ads producing below-average CTRs, so don’t go down this road with the belief that it’s a guarantee for top performance. (We also see a great many static ads outperform their dynamic counterparts when it comes to CTRs, by the way.)


  1. The best CTRs occur when ads offer to teach the audience.

One thing has always held true with regard to our digital ads: the image / text ads produce the best CTRs. We’ve run more of these enewsletter-only ads than any other ad unit, and they perform year after year. From our perspective, the biggest key to their success is that enewsletter readers can engage more deeply with these ads within the enewsletter itself and become even more enticed to click. The ad starts an educational process that the grower wants to continue.

So, maybe digital ads are losing value for some marketers, but that’s not the case in B2B advertising where just about everyone who sees your ad is a prospective customer. Put together the right ad, and you can drive get these folks to your website.


Bob West is Meister Media’s director of interactive sales. Contact him at 440/602-9129 or bwest@meistermedia.com for more information on ad performance

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