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Top Search Result = Poor Ad CTR [Study]

Advertising network Chitika released a study today that showed how ad click-through rates on a website vary when users come to that website from Position 1 in the organic search results versus other positions. Data showed the highest CTR on ads in a website occured when users found the site from Position 10 in the SERPs.


As a follow up to Chitika's study last summer that showed how rankings yielded traffic, Chitika said this is a stark contrast in terms of ad performance.

"What is clear from the data set is that although the first position of a Google search result drives the most search traffic, an average visitor coming from that link is the least likely to convert into an ad click," according to Chitika.

Chitika said the reason why Position 10 might be driving the most ad CTR on a site could be due to unsatisfactory results.

"When a user scrolls down and clicks on a link at Position 10, it is more likely that they have not found what they were looking for, increasing the probability of that person clicking on an ad related to their search query," Chitika said.

Chitika said that marketers shouldn't necessarily be vying for 10th position on every keyword, but that in terms of driving ad revenue, it's not a bad place to be overall.


"On a popular search term, 2.4 percent of potential visitors still represents a sizable audience, and by being the number 10 result, it's likely a site will see higher ad revenues," Chitika said in its report. "However, for lower volume or specialized search terms, ranking as high as possible will help in attracting the largest audience, since the proverbial 'pie' of users on those terms is already fairly small, along with the potential revenue impact of higher visitor CTRs."

So what's a marketer to do with this data? Cristian Potter, a data solutions engineer at Chitika, said it's important to note that this report examines aggregate traffic trends, and may not apply to groups of sites.

"Hitting the sweet spot requires some analysis of an individual site's traffic, for example, understanding how users are finding the site, and how certain campaigns have impacted actions undertaken by users on the site itself," Potter said. He added that this research can serve as a "as a point of reference in plotting metrics and key performance indicators."

While the data seemed to show an interesting relationship, sites that go after ad revenue have a seemingly delicate balance of providing a great user experience and making money. Not having the most relevant content (Position 10 versus Position 1) and subsequently driving users away through an ad doesn't seem like a great idea, either.

Potter agreed.
"User experience is always a key consideration when it comes to deciding on the number and placement of ad units," Potter said. "This also ties in with expected CPM on each ad unit - it should be worth the site's while to place an ad in a prime position. However, this study was solely behavior focused. The characteristics of the one or more ad units on each site within the sample will have varied considerably."

For more on Chitika's latest research, go here.
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