Google is right; click-through and conversion rates kinda don’t matter


Last month I wrote extensively on the seeming lack of meaningful click-through rates (CTR) growth following the implementation of Google expanded text ads (ETA), despite Google’s own assorted case studies showing meaningfully higher CTR with expanded text ads compared to the previous long-standing text format.

As mentioned in my previous post, we’re now on to a whole new world of text ads with Google’s new Responsive Search Ads (RSA), which gives Google the ability to mix and match headlines and descriptions in creating the final ad shown to users and gives advertisers more characters to work with in crafting their message.

Just last week, Search Engine Land contributor and Google Director of Performance Ads Marketing Matt Lawson provided best practice recommendations for these new ad units to help advertisers make the most of the new format. There’s a lot of good advice in there straight from the search giant’s mouth, but one bit, in particular, piqued my interest:

And here’s a final reminder about testing: Don’t overly fixate on metrics like click-through rate (CTR) and conversion rate. These new ad formats are about driving more impressions, clicks and conversions. There are all sorts of instances where you might end up serving impressions in a low CTR placement that you never would have qualified for before. A high CTR isn’t the end goal; it should be more sales for your business.

It seems Google has learned from the ETA episode not to sell advertisers on higher CTR, and indeed has built its RSA proposition around the idea of incremental clicks and sales, which, of course, only Google can measure, since there’s no way for advertisers to quantify ad placements that are off limits to ETAs for whatever reason. That doesn’t negate the failure of ETAs to live up to Google’s expectations with the metric of its own choosing at the time of announcement (CTR), but it is onto something!

Click-through rates sort of, kinda don’t matter, and neither does conversion rate. There are a number of reasons why.

Why you shouldn’t sweat CTR too much

Countless studies regularly put out CTR benchmarks and compare metrics across different platforms and ad formats, so it must really matter right?


[Read the full article on Search Engine Land.]

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.

About The Author

Andy Taylor is a Senior Research Analyst at RKG, responsible for analyzing trends across the digital marketing spectrum for best practices and industry commentary. A primary contributor to the Merkle | RKG Blog, Dossier, and quarterly Digital Marketing Report, his 4+ years of experience have seen him master and provide valuable insights into topics that extend across paid search, comparison shopping engines, display advertising, SEO, and social media. Prior to coming to RKG, Andy worked as an event organizer for a political campaign and dabbled in freelance writing. A graduate of the University of Virginia with a degree in Economics, he likes to spend his free time watching documentaries and selling homemade ice cream sandwiches at farmer’s markets with his girlfriend.



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