Back in 2007, Ford ran a banner ad that was a simple yet attractive photograph of the inside of an Explorer. It was a sleek-looking interior, and I could easily envision myself sitting in that vehicle, my young children safely strapped in the back seat. It made me feel good to just imagine that for a moment. However, at the time, I drove a year-old 15-passenger van, so a new vehicle purchase was not on my radar.

Did I click on the ad? No. What would be the point? I wasn't ready to purchase.

Three years later, a driver crossed the highway median, hit us head on, and totaled my 15-passenger van. The replacement vehicle purchased with the settlement money was (surprise!) a Ford Explorer.

And that is why a .3% click through rate is perfectly acceptable.

Because what are the odds that at the very moment people see a banner ad for a product, they are going to have their wallet open, ready to purchase?

So, why bother with online ads if consumers aren't going to click on them and purchase?

Online ad response looks even more daunting when we look at reality. According to Pew Research, in 2011 companies spent $32 billion dollars on digital ads—an increase of 23% over 2010. Online ads make up 20% of all advertising in the United States.

Looking at those numbers, it's obvious that consumers cannot possibly make a purchase with every ad that is presented on their screens.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Michelle Eichhorn is director of marketing and events for Apologia Educational Ministries, Inc.. She can be found on the Web at eyecorn.com and @eyecorn on Twitter.