The main thing about Click-Through Rate: how to calculate, how to improve and what CTR is good

CTR is one of the main indicators in advertising. We tell you what clickability is and how to work with it.

CTR (Click-Through Rate) is a click through rate. To calculate the indicator, you need to know the number of impressions and clicks. The formula is simple:
CTR = number of clicks / number of impressions × 100%

For example, if a banner was shown 100,000 times in search and clicked on 250 times, CTR = 250 / 100,000 × 100% = 0.25%.

The more users click on banners, snippets and posts, the higher the CTR and the more “clickable” the ad. In the material we tell the main thing about CTR.

  • What does CTR show?
  • What is a good CTR
  • What to do if CTR is low

Why calculate CTR

CTR measures the quality of an ad. Users are more likely to click on creatives that interest them.

Many ad systems reward high CTR ads: the higher the CTR, the lower the CPC and the more often ads are shown. This is how Google Ads, Yandex.Direct, Facebook work.

CTR does not say about the profitability of advertising campaigns. There can be a lot of clicks on ads, but few conversions to a purchase, and vice versa. To evaluate the cost-effectiveness of advertising, ROI and unit economics are used.

Which CTR is a good one?

CTR varies for different advertising platforms. For example, ads in YouTube videos will be clicked on less frequently than contextual ads in search results. The first ad distracts, and the second, on the contrary, helps to quickly find a solution.

Below we will give common indicators of a good CTR for different advertising systems. It must be remembered that even if the CTR is much lower than the given values, the advertising campaign can be profitable.

Search advertising

We are talking about ads that are shown in the search results of Google, Bing or Yandex, depending on the user’s request. As a rule, they have a higher CTR than other advertising tools.

According to the automated website promotion system Rookee, a good CTR of contextual advertising in search is 5-10%. Marilyn’s ad automation system cites similar figures: it claims that a good CTR on search is from 5%.

The indicator depends on the niche. Selling smartphones is harder than truck cranes. In the field of selling smartphones, the competition is higher, so the CTR will be lower. If the CTR of an ad on search is below 2%, the ad is considered ineffective.

Display Network

These networks work like this: search engines place ad units on sites, and companies buy ads in these blocks from the systems. So advertisers can place ads on thousands of sites at once.

Display advertising is shown to a wide audience, so the click-through rate is lower than on search. In addition, banner blindness negatively affects CTR — users try not to notice ads.

Marilyn considers a good CTR in the display network from 0.5%.


Large banners will have a higher CTR than standard advertising in networks. Advertising on the Display Network can be overlooked because it is embedded between pictures and posts on the site.
Banners are placed to the right or left of the site page, as well as between paragraphs of text. Ignoring banners is harder. More often than not, a good CTR for banners is 1%.

YouTube video

Experts from Google dismantled how the YouTube recommendation system works, gave formulas and conducted experiments. It turned out that click-through rate is an important factor in video ranking. YouTube is more profitable to offer videos that get more clicks and views.

According to YouTube, the average video open rate is 2-10%. We are talking about previews of videos in the user’s feed. Databox interviewed marketers, and it turned out that the average open CTR is 4–5%.

For YouTube ads, the average CTR for views is 0.514%, according to Big Commerce.

Websites in search results

The clickability of links in the search engine results depends on the position on which the resource is located. According to statistics, the first three links in the search results receive 50% of clicks. At the same time, 28% of users click on the very first link.

One of the highest CTRs is for snippets that are displayed for branded queries. According to the study, the click-through rate for branded queries on the first line reaches 70%.

Why is the CTR low?

There are many strategies for increasing CTR: changing the settings of an advertising campaign, developing strong creatives, creating a new unique selling proposition, and many other solutions. Nevertheless, one can often come across the assertion that a low CTR is a consequence of one of three reasons.

  • You’re showing ads to the wrong people. The CTR will be low if the audience is not interested in the offer. It is unlikely that a stroller will be needed for people without children, and an expensive wooden staircase for those who live in a city apartment.
  • The right audience is selected, but they don’t like the offer. Perhaps everyone in your niche gives discounts and free shipping, but you don’t write about it. Maybe the ad is priced too high. To get more clicks, it is worth making an offer profitable or exclusive.

  • The ad is unattractive. It is lost among the messages of competitors or in the content of the pages on which it is placed. To increase CTR, you can work with texts and visuals. For example, it is worth making bright unusual pictures. In some advertising systems, such a technique as calls to action on images works. Animation and interactive elements can attract attention. You can diversify the ad with emoticons and emoji.

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