- Large text
- Not very much text
- A single image
- A single visual flow (top to bottom)
- A concise color palette (greens and black)
- Text is too small
- Too much text
- Too many images competing for attention
- Muddled visual flow
At first glance, his simple ad looks like part of the content, the fancy ad just looks like an ad and is filtered out subconsciously.
Definitely a factor to take into account when you're targeting gamers I'd think.
* A few years ago I missed a question in an exam that was framed and underlined. The goal was to emphase the question because it was important. When I learned that I missed the question (while discussing the exam with other student), I took a new look at the question and my only guess can be that it looked too much like a Google Ad at that time and despite the fact that it was on paper I unconsciously ignored it… This is how stupid I can be.
I disagree that the simple ad looks like part of the content (unless the rest of the page is kindergarten kid's drawings). It's unique and an eye catcher. Until everyone starts doing it and then it'll become filtered just like the "fancy ad".
Even more importantly, a high CTR with lower conversion rate would drive up your costs while lowering your sales.
In this case the first ad is very clearly for a game with a very clear target market. If I am in to racing games, I may click it and I may buy it.
The second ad could appeal to people strickly on novelty which means you may get a lot of customers who do not care about the product.
While the results of this post are very interesting and the conclusion to test everything is still good, we should look at the conversion rate to see which ad is actually more effective.
I would like to see an A/B test of the same basic artwork on a black background vs. the white one.
People love that word.
Conversely, the MS Paint ad is, if nothing else, novel. It looks pretty different from most display ads out there. It catches the brain's attention, rather than being caught in the brain's passive ad-filtering heuristics. This may be, if nothing else, a story about attention and awareness.
...and the commercials are just a flaming baby skull barking ethnic slurs...
To the rest of us, advertisements are used as something we don't want to see, but are willing to see, in order to see something we DO want to see. Many of us can pick out the disparity between the polished, targeted ads and the less-focused content it intersperses.
Factor in that most ads are competing with others alongside (and they all look the same); also as others have mentioned, we've adapted to filter out 'obvious' ads.
I have to say I kind of feel cheated by that trickery, every time, and it is one of the reasons (though not the most important one) that I use Google much less recently (in favour of DDG).
 no I'm not particularly happy about this screen, the rest of the machine is great but if I had known it would be this bad I might have picked a different model (I got an Asus EEE 1215B)
I've may have seen far more of such pages. But obviously i can't tell since they're near-impossible to spot the Ads.
The trend is keeping things "by the book" from search engines point of view, And manipulate humans in subtle ways
by confusing contents and ads.
My guess is that (a) Google has optimized the ads for more clicks (b) advertisers have gotten beter at attracting clicks & (c) People are more aware of when to click on ads. If you're looking for a babysitter, you are more likely to have one booked ten minutes from now if you click an ad than an organic result. People have, consciously or unconsciously become aware of that and they click the ads when they want that kind of content.
I kind of doubt that myself and would like to see some numbers before coming to that conclusion. Especially if just talking about CTR instead of conversion rate. For the latter I'm willing to believe that if the techie clicks the ad, they're more likely to buy. Though that is a guess I'd also like to see supported with numbers :)
It might also be very different in the USA. If I see an ad with my search results, a lot of the time it's a US company and even if I would want to use a service on the other side of the ocean, I can only pay with either my creditcard or PayPal. I won't use PayPal and my creditcard is tucked away in some drawer somewhere. Actually, for any non-Dutch company (say, German), a creditcard or PayPal is usually the only option. On a Dutch site I can pay with iDeal via my bank card (zero transaction costs, authentication via text message on my banking account's site).
When I see the second ad, I wonder what it is, so yes, I'm more likely to click on it. But I'm not interested in car games. So I'm also much more likely to press the back button as soon as I understand what I'm being sold.
How does the math play out in the end and which ad is betetr? There's no way to tell from that data.
We find with domains with landing pages you can have thousands of visits per day that result in no revenue if the reason for the visit (domain typed in on browser bar) is not related to what the person is actually looking for.
Pof's target audience here is "people who like video games" and they're trying to get people to play a free online game. They don't really have anything to teach people in verticals where the consumer is making a measurable commitment. You do not need to be very persuasive to "convert" with that crowd.
Almost all marketing advice more specific than "the customer is always right" and "sex sells" etc. is dependent on the product and the audience.
What this is is a great ad. It's really funny (The speed lines especially. This car does not look very fast, but the speed lines show it's got a lot of heart), and it understands its audience. I think it has broader application than many are giving it credit for, it probably would work with any sincere product (i.e. selling something other than "one simple rule") targeted at younger people that does not solve a "serious" problem. Once you are proposing that people spend more than $40-$50 you are pretty smarmy if you are trying to push them into an impulse purchase
No one should decide on a health insurer based on a MS Paint ad, no matter how hip, nostalgic, and casual they are. On the other hand, you can make a lot of money selling funny ads to people and I think that's what's going on here.
1) Ethos (your perceived character) is the most important, with regards to pathos (emotion) and logos (logic)
2) People make judgments by comparison/anchoring.
3) People process information best from stories.
4) People are foremost interested in things that affect them.
5) Breaking patterns gets attention.
6) People look to other people's decisions when making decisions.
7) People will believe things more easily that fit their pre-existent mindset. The converse is also true.
8) People handle one idea at a time best.
9) People want more choices, but are happier with fewer.
10) People decide first, then rationalize - If people are stuck with something, they will like it more over time.
11) Experience is memory, the last part of the experience is weighted heavily.
The ad is successful in empathizing with customers by display a drawing that follows the design of top-of-mind ad very current memes. This works because of the market sophistication level (i.e. potential customers knows how this particular video game works).
The presenter in this video does a fine job in summarizing market sophistication and different advertising strategies: http://www.mindvalleyinsights.com/market-sophistication/
I'm really jealous because I've been reading about the value of being able to generate specific examples:
Users haven't seen an ad like this one a thousand times before. Some might not even think this is an ad. Some will be curious enough to actually click.
The MS Paint banner ad is not inherently more effective. If every banner ad on the internet was hand-drawn in MS Paint in 5 minutes, the joke would quickly grow old, and the CTR would vanish.
While testing some radical, weird treatments can give you valuable perspective, or shed light on the assumptions you've been making, testing every idea is rarely feasible. I would not, for instance, guess that that the author should test different versions of the second ad with colors or number of exclamation points changed.
You only need about 1,000-10,000 impressions to get an idea of how a creative performs. Often less. As you get more and more used to each particular advertising platform, you also get a feel for how an ad is performing.
In my business, a difference of 0.02% CTR could mean the difference between earning 30% ROI and 50% ROI - the words "test everything!" mean everything to me and my results.
Suppose your CTR is known to be either 0.09% or 0.11%, you've had 10,000 impressions, and you've got 11 clickthroughs. (This is of course the most likely number if your CTR is actually 0.11%.) The likelihood ratio between the two possibilities is about 0.81. So if you thought those two possibilities were equally probable before, you should now think it's about 55% likely that the CTR is 0.11% and about 45% likely that it's 0.09%.
So if by "get an idea" you mean something much stronger than 55%:45% then I fear you may be fooling yourself, no matter how much you've spent on advertising over the last few years. (Whether that means you should reconsider "test everything" depends on the costs of testing -- the actual cost of doing it, and the cost in running something other than the currently-believed-best version.)
And with 1000 impressions? Forget it. You expect to see 0.9 clickthroughs on average with a 0.09% CTR and 1.1 on average with a 0.11% CTR. You can probably get some extra information from (e.g.) when that expected single clickthrough happens, but it's not going to take you near to that 55:45 ratio. (I might believe 52:48.)
First of all I don't care how much you've spent on advertising, or how much experience you have. Human brains are hardwired to see patterns that don't really exist. If you haven't done the math then I guarantee that your intuition for what matters is way wrong.
However going the other way, people take standards from the science world into A/B testing that are not appropriate. If you're testing a ton of ideas, getting the right answer 3x out of 4, and not going far wrong most of the rest of the time is a pretty good result. It is certainly a lot better than concluding that it is too hard to test those ideas at all.
But if you have a specific idea you want tested, or if you want all ideas tested to a certain confidence, then you really, really need to either do the math, or to get someone to do the math for you. Because the human brain is a pattern finding machine, and you want real answers, not made up stuff.
An analogy (from an interesting post I can't find) is tossing a coin for two samples sets of a 1000 times. In one sample I wear a read jumper and in another I wear a green jumper. I find that the green jumper gives me a 0.02% improvement in producing heads. Therefore I will always wear my green jumper in future when I toss a coin.
Obviously however this is just random error. A statistical analysis of CTR will tell you if the difference between the two advertisments you are observing is significant. The larger the samples size, as abeppu wrote, the greater the greater confidence in your results.
"If two statistics have non-overlapping confidence intervals, they are necessarily significantly different but if they have overlapping confidence intervals, it is not necessarily true that they are not significantly different."
We've had similar results when we modified our logo and added mistakes. For example a rectangle Google AdSense Banner with a mirrored version of our Logo or just some crazy saturation affect applied on top of it actually got excellent CTRs. Even though it was kind of unnerving to have all my friends tell me about the mistakes that were in our ads...
The first job of ads is winning attention. You have to fight against all the clutter and stand out. You can do so by a variety of tactics. Use human faces. Use cute looking models. Use ugly fonts or clipart. Use mouse pointers. Use fluorescent colors. Use dashed coupon type borders.
You need to know however that while your conversion rates will increase, the number of complaints you receive will increase too.
It works because:
- It stands out from the content
- It defeats ad-blindness
- It's not expected, so it makes you curious
If this style becomes the norm, users will learn to mentally filter ads made in Paint as well.
That is the first flag that it is a scam.
800 pounds indeed. It's because of this incredible weight-loss that "local moms" have an extremely short half-life and are in fact rarely observed outside laboratory conditions.
The second ad says "I'm a human being, probably with a sense of humor"
So to clarify, this was simply a CTR case study, I know there's another side of the coin for CVR but that would have taken more time and funds than I would have been willing to allocate :(
But hey, open invitation the community here: If you want to submit a 310x110 ad for the purpose of testing against the same demographic that I did, feel free to email it to me: firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll run it for a few days and I'll let you know how well your ad did :) And to make it worth your while, highest CTR ad (from Hacker News members ONLY) gets $100 credit to advertise on https://ads.pof.com. AND you can use your affiliate links so if you make some coin, it's yours to keep (Put it towards your Diablo 3 pre-purchase, yeah? lol) Just grab the direct link for Need For Speed World from your favorite network and send it over. And hell, if your ad beats mine, I'll post it on the POF blog, with your permission of course.
End date for this little challenge.... April 30th?
So in short, what's more important? Immediate click-through satisfaction or building real brand recognition that can show greater returns over time, mostly in ways not calculable?
They would often blindly push for "simplicity", "sparse text", "nice picture", and when these ads go out to market, they get absolutely crushed.
One of the tragedies of a big wealthy company is that marketers can continually go out with these crappy creatives that don't sell and there really is no big consequence. It is often written off as a "learning opportunity".
Whereas if you look at the ads of people whose lifeblood depends on selling their product, they may not be the most attractive ads, but the ads that persist over time tend to be effective (ie. they sell). These guys need to eat, and they can only afford to make stupid ineffective ads for so long before they starve! So there are definitely some practical lessons that can be learned from them. They often knowingly or unknowingly follow the principles of advertising legend David Ogilvy.
Their ads tend to hit on direct marketing best practices:
- headline states in plain language what the product does (ie. no MBA jargon/buzz words)
- headline also hooks the reader to read a bit more
- it is clear who the product is for
- copy combats any objections in reader's mind
- no distractions that divert reader from clicking the "Join Now" button
- contains customer testimonials reader can relate to (ie. social proof)
- gives reader enough information on the page to make a decision (ie. none of this sparse text BS if it doesn't make sense)
One of my favorite ads of all time was the stick drawn fat girl with the secret to losing weight. I am sure the person behind that ad has a serious bank account.
Is there some sarcasm I'm missing? Calling the first ad terrible is one thing, calling the second one "quite good" seems a bit of a stretch %-)
1) "Look at the pretty picture!!"
2) "What the hell? EA is allowing this ad? Did they make it? I gotta see where this goes!"
3) Alternate to "Banner blindness", as @jonnathanson pointed out.
In 1 & 2, I feel like the higher CTR wouldn't matter because people are acting on curiosity of the implementation rather than the product. Once the outcome was revealed, and the banner is seen as no more than a trick, I'd be willing to bet that the orders or pre-orders of the game (in this case, playing for free) stayed roughly the same as if using the other banner. Just a hunch.
And where do those ads lead? Usually to a forum thread where members are playing/raiding an MMO together, or discussing a topic of great interest, or selling a service like painting portraits, web hosting, or resume editing (and in one or two cases, to a discussion of a particularly zeal-inspiring anime series).
Some purely parodic examples can be found here:
And here is the current roster of ads, though many are from external advertisers and hence less funny:
(Note that "goons" is the moniker for forum members, and many ads target them specifically with "goon discounts" and so on.)
Marketers with an attitude and something of a free hand could take a leaf from them.
Results? 0.049% CTR vs. 0.137 CTR
I hope I'm not the only one confused by this, but the lack of a percent symbol on the 0.137 means he went from 0.049% to 13%, an improvement of almost 300x.
Is this a typo? Did he mean to say he increased his CTR to 0.137% or did he actually increase his CTR by 300x?
Edit: Why is this being downvoted? It's a legitimate question.
People are more likely to trust something that looks amateur since it feels more like a recommendation than an advert.
Mr.Green, a well renowned CPA Marketer/Blogger, wrote a brilliant article about this. You can find it here - http://www.mrgreen.am/affiliate-marketing/the-ugly-truth/
Some good lessons to be learned from that post.
With the second it's very much "Haha, I wonder what this stupid ad goes to?" and then you just abandon it.
CTR means nothing without a conversion of some sort on the other side.
Search for 'paint' and you'll find the relevant passage.
"Andrew: Give me an example. I’d love to.
When we started media buying, we saw stock raising.
We saw what all the brands were doing. We needed
something really flashy, something really clean.
When I made something in Paint, as a joke and sent it over
to the guys, we just threw it up as a test, and it
quadrupled the conversion rate of anything else.
After that, I think we made every banner in Paint."
Judging by the fact that the advertisers are still using weird face ads, the CTRs must be superior ... but the interesting questions would be around the type of customer or conversion rates.
If I were clicking on the first ad, I would do so with the intention of downloading Need for Speed. The second ad, I would click to answer the question, "Who made this crappy paint ad? It's pretty unique."
If you are paying per click, the first ad is going to perform better and will give more relevant traffic. If you are paying per impression and just care about traffic, the second wins.
"Every idea that you have is worth testing, no matter how crappy you think it is."
It took him all of 45 seconds to put that new test ad together. That is a very, very small time investment, thus making such a test worthwhile.
For instance, if one wanted to create some sort of live-action commercial with actors, lighting, equipment and CG, and test it as an ad, the investment of time and money would be so great that negative results would be disastrous.
When we're presented with an large amount of information, our brain blocks it out rather than expending the energy to parse it. PTSD is an example of this which shows our tendencies to block overwhelming information.
The context here helps immensely, I think. Draw Something is a game that's about crude drawing, showing an ad that's a crude drawing is the ultimate targeted ad.
I don't think we should discount the popularity of Draw Something. It's in the forefront of peoples minds and this associates it with that as well as being a fun game. I wouldn't be surprised if there is a strong correlation with the popularity of that game.
The two trials are not significantly different.
It would have been interesting to see a measurable goal (downloads, newsletter signups, watch a 3 minute video... something measurable) and how the conversions were across the two ads.
The MS Paint ad still may have more total conversions but it would be interesting to see how the cost per conversion compares. If both cost per conversions are within budget, then by all means go full speed ahead with MS Paint.
update: i'm trying (and apparently failing) to imply that this article makes me question the idea of "test everything" rather than bolster the idea (the article's conclusion).
Improve your CTR with obfuscation. Probably won't help with coversions though.
On the second point, if everyone started making MS Paint ads then users over time will get used to the style as well, and stop clicking. People have an internal ad blocker that takes time to "learn" from existing patterns.
We once did an experiment with Google Adsense. Directly above the ad unit, if you used a large, clear heading "Sponsored Ads" and then compared the results with no heading, the clickthru rate differences were very significant. I don't have the exact number, but something like 3-5X in favor of no heading.
To improve CTR, you can either make a very compelling, contextual ad, OR trick your users into not knowing something is an ad. Tricking is easier and more effective in the short run, but will get you in trouble once your advertisers start looking at their conversion rates and ROI.
For example, the typical ad has 10% conversion but only 1500 clicks. You end up with 150 sign-up. The MS paint version has 5% conversion but 3 times more clicks, so you end up with 225 sign-up.
Conclusion: Ugly ads that catch your attention have a far superior CTR.
Here is the site: http://www.starbuckslocations.com
How do you blend novelty with timeless sophistication?