Home Articles If your banner click-through rates are weak, look to your search data

If your banner click-through rates are weak, look to your search data


Having trouble with online advertising? Do any of these statements sound familiar?

“I can’t make my display advertising work…”
“I am finding it hard to come up with the right creative message…”
“My banner click-through rates are weak…”

If you have ever carried out any display banner advertising, you know that display offers one of the lowest click-through and conversion rates of any online channel.

As a result marketers predominantly use this channel to boost brand presence when it could be embraced for its direct response attributes.

It’s not hard to develop creative that is so outrageous that everyone wants to click – just get your creative agency to develop banners that read “Click here and receive $5,000!” and see the clicks flood in.

However, I’m pretty sure that while you’ll generate a boost in traffic, 99% of this traffic will not add any serious value to your business.

So how do you increase traffic without compromising quality? Engage focus groups to analyse your products and services? Pay thousands of dollars to research houses to supply in-depth market intelligence?

In fact, there’s an easier, cheaper solution: Use search data to draft your ads.

Search engines and analytics packages are loaded with valuable data that can be used for display advertisements. These include Keywords, Search Volumes, Click Volumes and Conversion Data.

There is a lot of information here. You just need to study this data to find the opportunities.

Here are two tactics that I recommend trialling that use search data to help drive display advertising.

Approach 1: Use Paid Search data

If you are running any Paid Search (SEM) activity, then I recommend extracting a report of the best performing Text Ads from your program. Ensure you capture their corresponding Click-through Rate (CTR) and Conversion Rate (CR) performances.

The data available here can be, at the very least, just as valuable as any other market research that can be purchased, and a lot less expensive too.

The data tells you the story of how consumers are finding, interacting and converting on your site. Assuming that your Adwords and Analytics are implemented correctly, Paid Search can provide compelling data.

So why not use this to build your display creative as well?

  1. Get your team to do an extract of the Text Ads within your Google Adwords campaigns
  2. Ensure the report contains “Text Ads”, “Text Ad Impressions”, “Text Ad Keyword Click-through Rates”, “Text Ad Conversion Rates”
  3. Sort initially by Conversion Rates – highest to lowest
  4. Add a 2nd sort by Click-through Rates – highest to lowest

After cross-referencing Click-through and Conversion Rate, you can assess the data and determine the best performing Text Ad based on driving the highest number of clicks and conversions.


Using this intelligence you now have a blueprint of what keywords and Ad copy should be adopted in your banner creative. In this example, it’s easy to see which keywords performed strongly and, therefore, were incorporated into banner ads.

Approach 2: Use Google Keyword Tool

  1. Go to Google Keyword Tool and select your region (in our case, Australia)
  2. Start typing in a wide selection of keywords that relate to your products or services. Google will make further suggestions of keywords you can use; select where appropriate.
  3. Once you have a good selection of keywords, set the filtering to to ensure you only capture exact searches (no phrase variations)
  4. Sort by local search volume from the previous month.

Now take the keyword with the highest search volume and integrate it into your banner creative.

For example, look at the keyword “Property Investment”. This keyword had approximately 175% more user searches in July 2010 than the next highest searched term, “Property Investing”.

By using the term “Property Investment” in your marketing you have taken an existing insight and preempted the user’s future search action. Google Keyword Tool can give you the most popular phrasing that consumers are using. Combine its use with an offer and this ad becomes highly targeted and relevant.


Liaise with your creative agency to develop a simple animated banner which looks and feels like a search text box. Have the animation feature a blinking cursor in the text box, then typing in the keyword identified in your initial research, before clicking on the “Search” button.

Follow up with an offer to prompt a user action.


You do not need to invest thousands of dollars with a creative agency or market research house to come up with winning creative concepts.

In fact, you can actually come up with strong creative messaging just by using data through Google Keyword Tool or your own Paid Search Data. Gather insights, understand your target audience, how they interact and convert with your site. Once you have this intelligence then the creative almost writes itself.

Please note that the above recommendations should only been seen as a preliminary step to developing your creative concept. If you are already running some display activity, then at the very least you should use best practice marketing techniques and TEST these concepts against your current display activity.

Raphael Pantelis is Senior Account Manager at First Rate.  He has five years experience in Online Marketing and is a specialist in SEO, SEM, Performance Online Advertising and Email Marketing.

Image by Danard Vincente

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