Commentary

What Click Rates, Price Might Be Telling Us

How much better are above the fold impressions than below the fold, you ask? Judging by price paid, advertisers think they are 11% better, but viewable impressions have to yet truly separate themselves in a real-time bidding (RTB) environment as the cream of the crop compared to those dreaded below the fold impressions.

In Europe, click-through rates for above the fold inventory grew 15% from Q2 to Q3 of this year. That's actually less than the click-through rate growth for below the fold inventory (16%). The data comes from Adform's RTB Trend Report Europe Q3 2013.

What does that say about the quality of inventory? Well, both numbers are up, so that means it's still improving, but it surprises me that click-through rates for below the fold inventory grew at a higher rate than above the fold.

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To me, that might suggest a few things. First and foremost, it makes me wonder if advertisers truly know when their ads are placed above the fold. Click-through rates for above the fold impressions are twice as high as their below the fold counterparts, so there are diminish returns at play here, but why pay just 11% more if the click-through rates are twice as high?

Maybe I'm missing something, but that doesn't make sense to me. Are advertisers not paying more because they don't have to? But then that would mean publishers are missing out on potential revenue. No matter how it's spun, these numbers make me think a lot of blind trading is happening.

Sure, goals might be being met, but do advertisers truly know how and why those goals are met? Could they be set higher? Perhaps that's what these click rate and price figures are telling us.

"The CPM gap between above-the-fold and below-the-fold continues to narrow," Adform writes in their report. Marketers paid 17% more in Q3 for below the fold impressions and just 9% more for above the fold. I've gone on record a few times saying I don't believe RTB stands for a race to the bottom, but this data doesn't do much to support that thought.

1 comment about "What Click Rates, Price Might Be Telling Us".
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  1. Martin Stockfleth Larsen from Adform, December 10, 2013 at 7:31 a.m.

    Hi Tyler

    Great question(s) below my answer.

    Above / below the fold data / information is provided by the exchanges but only for 50% of all global inventory, which actually means that the other half is it unknown if you buy above or below impressions.
    If you only want to buy above the fold only, then you only have access to 25% of the available inventory which in many cases is a challenge for the agency / advertiser as it does not provide the reach needed for both spend of budget and users.
    Another point is the fact that advertisers / agencies don´t even think about the clever features they can use as they only think broad campaigns. This decision can be on purpose but its often related to lack of knowledge about the features and beauty of RTB.
    The clever approach in order to benefit from knowledge mentioned in this article is to create two campaign activities with differentiated bid prices.
    One only bidding for above the fold impressions with a high CPC / CPM and one activity bidding for below and unknown with a significant lower CPC / CPM. This approach would minimise waste for bad inventory and increase ROI for great quality inventory

    best
    Martin

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