TidalTV, which is a large online video advertising network, has come out with a new whitepaper,Video’s Great CTR Debate which talks about varying CTR by sector, age, content, daypart and geography. They say that only by applying all of these various factors will you be able to get a true idea of your campaign effectiveness. Their quick example was, though a CTR of 1.2% is above the industry average — only an analysis of specific norms will reveal if that goal is high or low for a sleep aid targeting 55+ consumers on weekday mornings.

I’m guessing that if it’s a sleep aid, the best time would be when most normal people are sleeping, because those that are awake and seeing the ad are either awake because they have to be, or because they can’t sleep, but that’s just me I guess.

According to the press release today, “This study quantifies within the online video space what we have known about overall digital metrics for some time: all CTRs are not created equal. When norms are applied to CTR performance evaluations, better decisions will ultimately result in greater campaign success,” said Kevin Haley, Chief Scientist for TidalTV. “Although there is a lot of debate around the relevancy of CTR to video, the majority of advertisers still considers CTR an important metric across all digital investments. That said, we believe this research shows that CTRs can be a valuable metric for video advertisers when viewed within a more fully informed context.”

That more fully informed context he’s speaking of involves applying norms to the CTR rate.

Here are their quick findings:

1. Category Performance

Across 10 sectors, advertisements for the financial category performed best, with CTR rates 15% above the norm for all video advertisements. Home improvement and entertainment/movie advertising also exceeded CTR norms. With more than a 45 percentage point differential between the highest performing category and the lowest performing category, it is evident that a clear understanding of CTR rates by sector is crucial when evaluating campaign performance for diverse products and services. In other words, a financial services ad and a pharma ad must be evaluated differently, according to different category benchmarks.

Financial services are top, in an economy where no one has enough money, is in the midst of a foreclosure or is trying to keep from heading into one, not a surprise. I suppose pharma ads would do better if it wasn’t all about hair loss, impotence and obesity. I mean, if you’re in the middle of foreclosure, those are the least of your worries, right?!

2. Demographic Performance: Gender and Age

The study found that when it comes to gender, men and women show only a 2% point variance in CTRs for video advertisements. Age proved to be far more variable, showing an uptick on both ends of the age spectrum, with CTRs indexing 12% above the norm for both adolescents ages 15 to 17 and those over 65 years of age. The flattest CTRs come in key target demographics – those falling between 18 and 64 years of age – and perhaps the busiest and most message fatigued of all consumer groups.

Amen brother! I’m totally message fatigued.

3. Day of the Week/Daypart Performance

The data showed that higher CTR levels correspond to traditional Monday-Friday work hours, peaking at 9:00 a.m. and remaining strong throughout the late afternoon, with Wednesday’s CTR as much as 27% higher than weekend CTRs. Interestingly, although this study does not specifically address video completion rates (VCRs), a related analysis found that Saturday has the highest VCRs, suggesting that if an advertiser is able to capture a consumer’s attention on a Saturday, that consumer is more likely to take the time to listen to the entire message. While a marketer’s decision to place media on a given day is clearly driven by objectives beyond CTRs, knowledge of daypart norms is an important consideration when evaluating expected and actual performance.

So that means consumers are mostly clicking through video ads, while at work. I suppose that should make sense, after all, that’s not our time to waste, but the company’s. However, the two most active demographics… aren’t generally working so that’s quite odd.

4. Contextual Performance

As expected, publisher content genre had a tremendous impact on CTR performance, supporting the notion that contextual relevance is an important factor to consider within a campaign. Following the analysis of 18 content genres, comprised of 259 specific sites, the top performing content genres for CTR included (in order): health, community, men’s lifestyle, technology, food, portal, gaming and entertainment.

This is a given by now right? If your ad is related to the content it’s highly likely that it will be more interesting to the viewers. Common sense, no? That’s why Ptoctor & Gamble helped produce and sponsor soap operas…because it was about soap. Seriously, the viewers of those shows were often the consumers of the P&G products.

5. Geographic Performance

A geographic analysis of the U.S. shows clear differences in click through norms nationwide, with Illinois, New York, Texas and Wyoming among the top performing states. The findings went against the logical assumption that states with the largest metropolitan centers would perform best, as CTR performance in states including Alaska, Georgia and Minnesota outpaced one of the nation’s largest technology centers, California. Geographic norms are particularly relevant to regional advertisers that can optimize direct engagement and response from consumers.

Largest metro areas in America:

  1. New York (in their top list)
  2. LA
  3. Chicago (in their top list)
  4. Houston (in their top list)
  5. Phoenix
  6. Philly
  7. San Antonio (in their top list)
  8. San Diego
  9. Dallas (in their top list)

Since NYC is the biggest in the country, Chicago is third and Texas has 4th, 7th and 9th… it’s not all that counter-intuitive. The fact that California is apparently ranked 8th overall is a bit of a surprise but again, it could depend on those regional advertisers and their target markets. Wyoming is certainly a shocker, it’s the least populous state in the union! They must be really bored and have either a lot of free time, or very few game consoles and big screen TVs (I’m joking, of course they’ve got game consoles!).

In the end, it’s a fairly interesting bit of reading, which you can get by talking to TidalTV. Although, I have to be honest. Some of it does sound like they’re trying to tell their advertisers that it’s OK to not have that high CTR like the other sectors and that perhaps they should try a different daypart, region or demographic. Then again, that’s the whole job of the ad exec anyway, to help get the best placements for the advertisers, right?