6 Strategies to Improve Display CTR Without Changing Ads

My click-through rate is 0.05%, what can I do to improve it?

Underperforming display ads are a common issue, but with the right strategies, it’s easy to improve CTR, even without changing ads or ad copy!

If you’re running display campaigns and you’re struggling with low click-through rates (CTR), the team at the Acquisio Trading Desk (ATD) has developed a series of strategies to improve CTRs so that all client campaigns surpass the industry average of 0.1% CTR.

The best thing about these strategies is that they involve no work on your part – ATD does all the work for you.

Strategies to Improve Display CTR

Among a variety of advanced strategies, here are 6 ways to get more people to click on your existing display ads:

  1. Blacklist and whitelist
  2. Optimize per vertical
  3. Eliminate underperforming ad exchanges
  4. Analyze browser use
  5. Analyze device use
  6. Use Outlook Inventory

Blacklist and whitelist

One of the strategies ATD uses that helps dramatically increase CTRs is to blacklist. If there are websites that do not generate many clicks and have a high cost per click, those websites are cancerous to your display campaign. Creating a blacklist can help restrict websites where your ads underperform from your roster.

With a CTR of 0.05%, there are definitely sites in your display roster that are dragging down the results.

On the flip side, if your ads perform well on particular websites, you may want to implement a whitelist and enhance bid multipliers on the websites that yield high click-through rates.

Optimize per Category

If you see that an ad category is performing better than others, for example, if you’re in the travel industry and see that “flight” related ads have a higher CTR and a lower cost per click than “hotel,” “vacation” or “tour” ads, the best thing to do is adjust the bid multiplier for those categories.

If ad groups are performing well, increase the bid multiplier (also called bid factors or bid adjustments) to ultimately increase bids and win more impressions.

For underperforming verticals, lower the bid multiplier to decrease bids so they won’t appear on the high performing inventories and waste money.

Eliminate underperforming ad exchanges

The appeal of an ad exchange is that it enables advertisers to share their ads on a variety of websites without having to negotiate buys directly with each publisher, but the main drawback to this is that advertisers may not be sure where their impressions come from within the millions of publishers within the exchange.

Without transparency as to which sites your ad will appear on, your display ads will appear to be performing poorly on ad exchanges as a whole by yielding higher than average CPCs. With multiple ad exchanges as part of your roster, eliminating those ad exchanges that charge too much per click can help your ads perform better overall, bringing that 0.05% CTR up.

Analyze browser use

Browser use may not seem the most pressing factor related to CTR, but as the ATD team has seen, by separating browsers and applying bid multipliers to each, it is easy to single out which browsers are performing well, be it Firefox, Chrome or Safari.

Setting a higher bid multiplier on the browsers that show a significantly superior performance allows your ads to appear more often on this browser, to ensure future success.  More importantly, lowering the bid multiplier on browsers that don’t see much action is crucial to improve CTR.

If one browser has very poor results, you can even set the bid multiplier to 0 and block your ads from ever appearing there.

Analyze device use

Device targeting is crucial for display. Because cross-device campaigns are so important, rather than cutting out devices that perform lower, ATD works to generate positive results from each device.

Without changing ads, the most important thing to improve display CTRs is to increase bid modifiers on device types that are performing well and lower them for devices performing poorly.

If mobile is underperforming, bidding lower can help keep CTR higher by directing traffic towards desktop, but a long term solution to boost mobile performance involves creating mobile-friendly ads and landing pages, and even doing in-app advertising.

Use Outlook Inventory

The last strategy to elevate the low 0.05% CTR to industry standard is to take advantage of the Outlook Inventory.

As one of the few parties connected to this inventory, ATD has seen the highest click-through rates for branding come from this inventory. The success of the Outlook strategy comes from the fact that only one ad is permitted per page, so website visitors are more likely to be attracted by the ad and click – therefore boosting CTR.

While some of these strategies seem simple or intuitive, it ultimately comes down to paying attention to your campaign performance, making adjustments and isolating best performers.

If these 6 strategies are put in place, the ATD team is certain your CTR will increase, and the team won’t rest until your click-through rate is above industry standard.

Jillian Zacchia

Jillian Zacchia

Jill is a professional writer, editor and social media procrastinator. With a degree in Literature and Communications from McGill, she started her journalism career writing about lifestyle and entertainment for teen magazines, and after dabbling with wedding and travel writing she began the transition towards content creation for start ups, marketing and tech companies.

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