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Red-faced animated men – the key to successful online adverts?

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5th May 2015
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Understanding online advertising is a science for the brave - while digital advertising spend set a new record in 2014, the rate of change in the industry makes carving out an online presence for a brand through advertising, at times bewildering.

A knowledge of SEO, PPC, targeting, impressions, keywords and programmatics is just the start; there’s also optimised landing pages, conversion tracking and calls-to-action to think about. And then there’s the design.     

The recent Guide to Creative Optimisation assessed online adverts across 16 sectors including finance, telecoms, travel and automotive and identified various elements of an advert that can be controlled in order to achieve the best possible outcomes.

The design components taken into consideration included background colour, presence of a brand logo, limited-edition offer, whether the ad was static or animated and if included, the animation length.

Analysing nearly 40,000 banner ads from 1,000+ advertisers, totalling 23.3 billion impressions served over an 8 month period, the study found that statistically the colour red, animation and a male face were most likely to improve an online advertising campaign’s chances of success. 

Ads featuring men averaged +102% higher conversion rates than ads featuring women (+25%), while ads featuring men and women together underperformed (-15%). Animated creatives averaged 7% higher conversion rates across most verticals, and animated ads with 6-9 seconds of animation (including loops) averaged the highest rates among those (138% higher).

Red backgrounds in adverts averaged +31% higher conversion rates across all verticals.

“Some might look at the data and conclude that it over-prescribes creative opportunities,” said Eric Porres, CMO of programmatic ad buying platform.

“But we think the opposite is true. The data illuminates what has worked well in the past, but it doesn’t limit the discovery of what might work in the future. One of the best benefits of [programmatic advertising] is that it enables affordable and fast real-world testing of literally any idea or hypothesis you can imagine. It opens possibilities - it doesn’t close them.”

Other findings from the report included that automotive ads achieved higher conversion rates when messaging around safety was used (+220%, as opposed to fuel efficiency or dependability); travel ads with a length of trip in their messaging averaged conversion rates a whopping +227% higher than those without that information; and for dining-based messaging that offered more food at the same price (such as a free side or a buy-one-get-one-free offer), conversion rates averaged +284% higher, performing better than price-based and contest-based promotions.

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