Definition: CTR [Click-Through Rate]


What does CTR mean?

CTR stands for Click-Through Rate. It is the percentage of clicks on a link or ad out of all the times that people saw that link or ad.

More formally, CTR is the number of click-throughs divided by the number of impressions (as a percentage). For example, if you get 5 click-throughs from 100 ad impressions that will give you a Click-Through Rate of 5%.

CTR is a common digital marketing metric that can be used for everything from display to search to social to email. It measures performance, but more specifically it measures interest. Out of all the times that someone saw your link, how likely were they to click on it? Used for this purpose it is an incredibly simple and effective way to compare the performance of different channels, campaigns, ads, emails etc.

 

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Why use CTR?

CTR is a much better measure of performance than just clicks. If you want to compare campaigns that have had different amounts of impressions, then it is unfair to just look at which had the most clicks. This is because more impressions will usually mean more clicks.

Using the Click-Through Rate allows you to see what different campaigns could have achieved if they had the same amount of impressions.

For Example:

Ad One: Seen by 1,257,548 people, and clicked on 748 times
Ad Two: Seen by 555,665 people, and clicked on 611 times

While Ad One received 137 more clicks, it was also seen by 701,883 more people. As a percentage of the number of people who clicked through, Ad One had a CTR of 0.06% while Ad Two had a CTR of 0.11%. Theoretically, if Ad Two had been seen by as many people as Ad One, then it would have received 1,383 click-throughs (635 more).

If the goal of a campaign is to get people to a webpage or app, then CTR is the best way to measure that. This goal is common for brand advertising.

 


 

When shouldn’t you use CTR?

If the goal of a campaign is something other than webpage visits then CTR is not the most useful measure to use. You should always focus on your end goal. So if you are running a campaign looking for sales (or any conversion) you should focus on conversion rate, CPA, or ROI (or ROAS) instead.

That being said, CTR can still be informative in many cases.

For example:

You run a social media post meant to bring in sales. It receives:

1,400,000 reach
100 clicks
10 conversions

As this is a conversion based campaign, it makes sense to look at conversion rate as the primary metric. Social media posts are free, so there is no CPA or ROI to consider.

Conversion rate is calculated as conversions divided by clicks – so in this case it is 10%. That is not a bad conversion rate. If your reporting stopped there it wouldn’t be the worst thing.

However, the post also had a reach of 1.4 million (which is pretty high) and yet only delivered 10 conversions. If we look at the CTR of this post, we can see that it was only 0.01% (100 divided by 1,400,000 as a percentage). This is very low.

So if you were analysing this campaign you could say that the post was good as it reached so many people. And the landing page was good, as a high percentage of people who arrived there converted. However, the use of a link was poor as very few people who saw the post clicked on it.

In this case, Conversion Rate is the primary metric, but as you can see – CTR can still be useful.

 

 


 

What does CTR mean?

CTR is a very specific form of engagement rate. Almost all platforms a click counts as an engagement. So while engagement rate is all engagements (including clicks) divided by impressions, Click-Through Rate is only clicks divided by impressions.

Engagement rate is useful to see how interesting a piece of content is. As clicks are arguably the most valuable form of engagement, CTR takes this idea a step further.

A good CTR is equivalent to a high engagement rate but it implies more than that. People who click-through are interested enough to more than just engage with your content – they are also happy to leave the platform they are on to do it. With most big platforms doing everything they can to keep users from leaving, this is a big step.

A good CTR also implies a high level of trust. While someone might click on something they find interesting, they are much more likely to click if they think there are no nasty surprises waiting at the other end. As internet users are much more likely to buy something from a site they trust, any click is a great first step for trust.

As with all rate metrics, there are three ways to think about CTR:

  1. Retroactively: The percentage of people who clicked.
  2. For Planning: Combine CTR with impressions per day to see how long it will take you to hit a target number of clicks.
  3. Level of Interest: If you show this link or ad to someone, how likely are they to click?

 


 

CTR Formula

The CTR equation is:

CTR Formula or Click Through Rate EquationClick to enlarge

CTR = (Clicks x 100) ÷ Ad impressions

 


 

How to Calculate CTR

In general, CTR can be defined as click-throughs divided by impressions. However, what counts as an impression differs depending on the context.

 

Search

Organic Search Results: An impression is when one of your links loads on a search results page. There can be multiple links from the same site on a search results page, so there are two forms of CTR for search – Site CTR and Page CTR.

  • Page CTR is the percentage of clicks on a specific result out of the number of impressions it received.
  • Site CTR is the percentage of a click on any result from the same website from a specified set of search results or queries.

Search Ads: An impression is recorded each time one of your ads loads. As there is only ever one search ad from an advertiser on any one page, there is not a second form of CTR for search ads. It is simply clicks divided by impressions.

 

Display

Display Ads: An impression is counted any time an ad loads. The CTR for a specific ad is the number of clicks it received divided by the number of ad impressions. As there can be multiple ads on a page, ad platforms often also report a “Page CTR”. This means the percentage of clicks on any ad on a page divided by page views.

Video Ads: An impression is recorded each time a video plays, and so the CTR is the number of click-throughs on a video divided by video views. Some video ads will have click events built-in to choose an option of how the video proceeds.

These clicks are different to click-throughs – a click-through is only recorded when someone leaves the page they are on. If there are multiple click-throughs on a video (or in the description), you can either measure them all together or individually (there are no standard names for either of these).

 

Social

Organic Social Media: Measurement of impressions differs slightly depending on which social media platform is used. Twitter will measure an impression when a tweet is loaded (even if it is off-screen), while LinkedIn only measures post impressions if a post is at least 50% on-screen for 300 milliseconds. Regardless, CTR is always measured roughly the same – the number of click-throughs divided by the number of impressions (however they are measured).

Social Media Ads: Social media ads are once again quite simple – if an ad loads it counts as an impression. So social media ads CTR is click-throughs divided by impressions.

 

Email

Email: Email typically uses CTOR rather than CTR as a measure. However, if you are using CTR for email then it is measured as clicks divided by delivered emails. It is generally measured by link, as well as overall (although there are no specific names for either of these). CTOR is clicks per open instead – which makes it more inline with the other measures of CTR.

 

Content

Blog Posts: CTR is rarely used as a measure for blog posts, but if you want you can use it by simply dividing clicks by page views. This can be for individual links or by adding all the outbound link clicks together.

Note: A click-through does not necessarily mean that someone arrived at your website, all it means is that someone clicked at the other end. For various technical reasons, there will almost always be a discrepancy between people who clicked and people who visited your site.

 


 

Average Rate

What makes a good Click-Through Rate is different depending on what medium you are talking about, as well as what industry you are in. To give you a general guide, here are some rough overall Click-Through Rates:

Search ads / Google Ads (previously AdWords): 5% CTR for search ads is the minimum you should aim for. As Google makes up most of the market, you can safely assume this 5% benchmark goes for all search ads. 10–20% Click-Through Rate is very good.

Display Ads: 0.2% CTR is generally considered good for Display ads. The overall average for Display ads is around 0.1%, however, that number is skewed by the vast majority of Display ads doing terribly! If you can beat 0.2% then you’re doing something right. 1–2% is very good.

Video Ads: 10% CTR is ok for a video ad – and you could honestly expect 20-30% for most reasonably well-made ads.

AdSense: Apparently most blogs get between 0.5–3% CTR from AdSense, so therefore a good Click-Through Rate is 5%+.

Facebook Ads: The overall average CTR is about 1% for Facebook ads. However, there are so many types of ads this is a very rough benchmark. For most advertisers, a click-through rate of 2%-5% could be considered good. Honestly, though it is not out of the question to see 20%-30% CTRs.

Email marketing: With emails, CTOR is used instead of CTR (which measures clicks against opens instead of delivered emails). A good CTOR is between 20–40%.

This is much higher than most Click-Through Rates simply because it’s a biased metric – for someone to click on a link in an email they have to have already opened the email. This means they are already interested in what you have to say, so clicks are much more likely!

 

CTR BenchmarksClick to enlarge

 


 

Top Tip

As a general rule of thumb, a placement/page/site shouldn’t be judged until something has served over 1,000 impressions. This is because you want to give something a reasonable chance to get a click before writing it off, and 1,000 impressions are actually not that many. It is also a great benchmark because:

  • One click in 1,000 impressions is equal to a Click-Through Rate of 0.1% (which is the overall internet average)
  • 1,000 impressions are like one unit of advertising. This is why ads are sold on a CPM basis (cost per 1,000 impressions)

 


 

Other names for CTR (synonyms)

Click-Through Rate, Click Rate

 


 

Not to be confused with

Clicks, CTOR, View-through Rate, Crash Team Racing

 


 

Summary

A blue image which defines CTR (Click-Through Rate) as "The percentage of people that click on a link or ad out of all the times they saw that link or ad. CTR is a measure of interest used to compare the performance of different content, channels, placements etc."

 


 

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