What is a Reasonable CTR in Google Display for your Business?

Having a “too good to be true” CTR most definitely means that you are wasting budget on spam. Although there are no absolute values, you can determine a baseline CTR for quality placements.

For those who are relatively new to the subject, CTR or Click-Through Rate determines both your ad rank and your cost per click in Google Ads. A higher CTR means that you have a better ranking and lower costs. But having a surprisingly high CTR may not always be good news because it may mean that you are driving clicks through spam.

When to suspect good CTRs?

In your Google Display Network campaigns, you might need to take a closer look at your CTRs because if they are very high, you are probably wasting budgets with placements that are “optimized” in driving clicks – in other words, spam.

Recently we conducted a poll on LinkedIn to find out what Google Display experts think about good CTRs and “too good to be true” ones. First of all, we found out that fortunately many marketers are aware that looking at Click-Through Rates help them detect spam. The second outcome was that there is no clear winner when it comes to an absolute value when a placement is probably spam. Nevertheless, nearly half of the participants voted a CTR of 2% already as too good to be true.

It would be fair to think that CTRs can give you valuable hints but it also depends on your business. The average CTRs provide more accurate information and the value we asked for in the poll can move up or down. 

How to determine a baseline CTR for quality placements?

Imagine a great display placement that features

  • High quality content
  • No UI patterns that force the user to click
  • Organic traffic for the money keywords within your business

To get a set of those placements I’m scraping the ranking content pages for my Top 1000 keywords that offer Google AdSense. Compared to automated placements this can be assumed as high quality traffic that is relevant for our business. By doing this we know a best case CTR but also a reasonable number for our conversion rates. Depending on your goals there are a lot of ways to fake conversions.

Cheat sheet

  • High above average CTRs may mean that you’re wasting budget on spam.
  • Nearly half of our poll’s participants voted a CTR of 2% as too good to be true.
  • Compared to automated placements, selecting from the top keywords can provide high quality traffic that is relevant for our business.

Google Display

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