What Is Relative Click-Through Rate?

One recent addition to Google’s plethora of PPC metrics is Relative CTR (Click-Through Rate). This metric is only applicable to display network campaigns, so you may not see it everywhere. In short, relative CTR is a measure of how good your CTR is compared to other advertiser’s ads appearing on the same websites.

Your relative CTR metric will appear as a number to one decimal point, followed by an “x.” So it could be 0.5x, 1x, 1.5x, or a similar number. If your relative CTR is less than one, then your CTR is below average for similar advertisers on the same sites. One is average, and anything higher than one means that you’re doing better than your competitors.

To reveal your relative CTR number for your display network campaigns, view the campaign in the AdWords interface. Click on Columns > Customize Columns to open up your column display options. On this panel, you should see a checkbox for “Relative CTR” under the heading “Competitive Metrics.” Check it off, and your relative CTR will be displayed on your stats table below.

Don’t sweat it if you think your display network CTR is too low. In my experience, a “good” display network CTR is somewhere around 0.20%. Anything higher than that, and you’re doing fine as long as your placements are converting. Remember, users on the display network are not showing a search intent. They’re there to read the content on the page, not shop for products or services. Despite the lackluster CTR performance of the display network, it can still be a valuable addition to your PPC account. Any new channel to reach potential customers is a win, as long as you know how to interpret the data. Relative CTR is just another tool to add to your pay per click optimization arsenal.

Relative CTR isn’t something you should optimize on its own. Rather, it’s an indicator to help you optimize more important things like total conversions or cost per conversion. If your relative CTR is much lower than your competitors, you should look at your average position or ad text to see why your ads aren’t getting clicked as much. Having a higher-than average relative CTR may seem good, but if you’re getting more clicks but no conversions, you might be wasting some advertiser dollars. But that high relative CTR may indicate that your ad text is appealing – you just need to target some more effective placements.

About Shawn Livengood

Shawn Livengood is a search engine marketing professional based in Austin, Texas. He has extensive experience managing pay-per-click ad campaigns for clients in various industries, from small home-based businesses to large international companies. You can connect with Shawn on Google+.
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