Display Advertising Statistics that will Blow Your Mind

Ben Farrell


The internet changed everything. Changed our lives, changed the way we connect, changed the way we think. But, most of all, it changed marketing forever. My grandfather used to work in advertising. As a child, I remember him working late. There he’d sit at his desk using a fine scalpel to delicately cut out cardboard shapes before using spray glue to put them together to make a logo. I remember him using a font styles book to put together advertising copy by hand, carefully sketching the typeface. He was successful but was out of work as soon as the digital era approached and he didn’t adapt. My point is, everything’s different and it’s still changing rapidly.

In the 90’s, display advertising became a big deal as people started to realise the potential and reach of advertising on a website. Cheap banners with crass colors and scrolling text where everywhere and full of fake promises such as ‘You are the 1 millionth visitor, you’ve won, click here to claim your prize’. Because of poorly thought out strategy and online scams, display advertising got off to a rocky start with a damaged reputation.

Since then, things have improved. Platforms such as Google AdSense have allowed marketers to be more specific about who they target with what. This has led to better quality advertising and resulted in consumers, in general, seeing more advertisements that are relevant to their interests. For example, you’ll spend a morning searching to buy a kayak on Amazon and suddenly, your display advertising world changes, almost fully customised to only showing you deals on Kayaks… That’s certainly a better experience than the flashing, screaming banner begging you to click it, whispering false promises.

The fact is, the industry is moving and changing at such a pace that it’s hard to keep up. There are some mind-blowing statistics about display advertising that both tell a lot about its history and encourage us to do better as well as talk about its incredible potential.

Let’s start with the ugly.

  1. The average clickthrough rate of all display advertising is 0.06%

Well, that’s not a lot! Some may argue that with clickthrough so low, why bother? However, I think this simply says a lot about the history of display advertising and reinforces the fact that we need to get smarter about targeting specific demographics with relevant content. Not just throw a whole lot of advertising at a wall and hope that it sticks. It’s less about increasing the number of impressions and more about being specific and increasing clickthrough.

  1. Ad blocking grew by 41% globally in the last year and there are now 198 million active ad block users around the world.

That’s a whole lot of people who don’t want to see ads. But again, this simply creates more opportunity. The demographics of people who go to the effort to use ad blocking aren’t likely the sort of people who would have responded to an ad anyway. So, by losing those people, we’re left with a smaller pool of users who are more responsive to display advertising. Ad blocking also forces us to further innovate where we put advertising (such as in-app or YouTube etc.) and encourages us to move beyond simple website banners.

  1. About 50% of clicks on mobile ads are accidental.

So, we’ve already seen how low the clickthrough rate is, and now we’re hearing that 50% of mobile users weren’t actually interested in our ad, they just had fat fingers. This paints an even worse picture but, again, drives us to better improve relevancy and even look at how in-app or mobile ads are delivered and ensure we’re not paying for fat fingered and disengaged clicks.

Ok, so we can see that we’re fighting an uphill battle in the landscape of display advertising however, it’s not all bad. Once we further shake-off our shady past and move to improving relevancy then we can really start to see the potential. Our whole lives are digital now as we become increasingly reliant on technology. This reliance creates more opportunity for display advertising and allows marketers to reach more people.

Let’s look at some positive mind-blowing statistics.

  1. Native ads are viewed 53% more than banner ads

Native ads are simply ads that don’t look like ads. They’re content that follows the same style and theme of the page they sit on and they don’t interrupt the user experience. They are also relevant to the topic being discussed. So, whilst this is not great news for simple banner ads, it tells us the importance of relevance and speaks to the opportunity open to marketers by using native ads.

  1. Users who are re-targeted are 70% more likely to convert.

Those are good odds! So, users who showed interest by clicking on an ad previously or visiting your website or landing page are 70% more likely to convert if you target them again. There are many ways to track which users previously responded to an advert or clicked, so use that data to create targeted audience segments and re-target those people now!

  1. Heineken reached 54% of audience (35 million people) in just 3 days using video ads on Facebook.

People are 60% more likely to convert from ads using rich content. You can hashtag all you like, but it’s interesting media content that really gets people’s attention. Marketers need to adapt and get creative by using videos and other media to drive engagement. 35 million people in 3 days is massive.

So, the potential for display advertising is huge. Marketers just need to continue to evolve and adapt to the ever-shifting digital landscape and continue to innovate their advertising strategies. Reaching 35 million people in one day would have been considered impossible in the days when my grandfather worked in advertising, now it’s possible and easy with the right content. So, embrace the good with the bad, innovate target and deliver relevant ads that will positively expose your brand to massive audiences.