Is the File Size of Your Display Ads Killing Your Performance?

By Bryan Gaynor | @BryanGaynor12 | Digital Marketing Account Manager at Hanapin Marketing

Over the past few years, advertisers have increasingly turned to the more impactful ways of advertising online like full page take overs, elaborate gifs and HTML5 animation, really impressive light box video. And let’s be honest, when executed well, they are pretty awesome to look at and I admire the creativity behind them. But… is it necessary? They are overly intrusive at times, they can really impact of the UX of the content the end user is trying to access and for the most part, just really annoying. It is not surprising that the the usage of ad blockers, particularly among millennials is exploding. While this may seem daunting, take a moment (or several) to consider why ad blockers are good for the PPC industry and forces us, as advertisers to reflect inward and fix our approach.

 

Last Month, I read an intriguing article on AdExchanger about the impact of the raw file size of display ads and the potential impact that they can be having on campaign performance. While you may not think the size of one ad impacts an entire UX, when combined with multiple ads, with multiple formats and ad types, it becomes a raging hot mess. I ran a load time inspect to show how long it can take for ads to load. You will see from the video, it takes 6 seconds from refresh to load ads on 100MB speed internet. Both ads load at the same time , but, imagine if we as advertisers got together and decided that ad file size should be smaller and load times were faster, how would that improve UX and Brand Awareness? Especially on Mobile and Desktop.

 

All of this really got me thinking, could it be true? I decided to put it to the test and run the numbers. For the analysis, I focused on the 300×250 sized placements, a.) To keep consistency and b.) it is the most common across platforms, and I focused on the previous 90 days worth of data.

 

Here is what I found out:

 

Across all devices and connection types we see the CTR  and conversion volume improves, the smaller the ad size:

 

CTR and conversion volume improvement the smaller the ad size

 

So it fits in with our theory that ad file size matters. Great… we are right, no need to go any further. But… I did anyway.

 

When connected to WiFi or broadband, on any device, it remains pretty consistent with above, no real surprise. But when I broke it down to mobile carrier and smartphone device. The average CTR increases significantly across the board. Conversions also dropped, but as our clients mobile experience is not fantastic, this was expected. However, our theory on engagement is carrying through:

 

Mobile CTR where mobile experience is not great.

 

Finally, I decided to look at our strongest platform, desktop, on a WiFi connection:

 

Desktop display ad conversions on a wifi connection.

 

Unsurprisingly, the CTR isn’t hugely impacted, but the smaller ad size and probable faster load time saw 7.5% more conversions during the same period.

 

Wrapping Up

 

So what does this all mean? In a nutshell, each advertiser is probably going to see different results and direct impact based on their strategies. However, while we all want beautiful ads and make then stand out, what is the point if they don’t load fast enough to get in front of the intended audience. This data may not be conclusive, but it is an indication that there is something to this theory. To sum it up, test it yourself, analyze your own numbers and if the data highlights some quick wins, keep things simple.

 

K.I.S.S. advice - keep it simple, stupid.

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