When CTRs are so high it’s actually suspicious

More often than not, our clients are very very interested in a couple of specific metrics: How many conversions do they have and the CTR, aka how many people actually click on their Ads over how many see them. So, more often than not, our Display Ads and Advertising Campaigns, in general, tend to be oriented to give high numbers on those metrics, right? Even when this makes perfect sense, there are some cases where having SUCH high CTRs can mean something’s definitely off. 

What usually happens is that you launch a Display Ad and 1000 people see it but just two of them actually click on your website and just one converts. I’m not being pessimistic, this is just what the regular course of events looks like. So, what happens if all of a sudden your CTR becomes huge but your conversions stay the same? If you are a naive client who sees that a lot of people are clicking on your Ad, but pretty much none of those clicks are turning into conversions, then you should definitely keep reading. Today, my friends, we’ll review a couple of points on why sometimes a really high CTR does not translate into a really high amount of conversions. 


I’m not trying to be cynical here, but in real life, when something’s just too good to be true, it’s actually just not true. So if your Display Ad says “Get 1 million dollars just by clicking here”, not only that will look dangerously scammy, but also, every single person that clicks on it will leave your website immediately after realizing that is not even partially true. Click baits are great when we are looking to get traffic to our websites, but abusing them can result in really large amounts of bounce rates which, not only will be seen as suspicious from Google’s eyes but also will mean none of those clicks will become conversions. 

Misleading Ads

Sometimes, the context or wording of the Display Ad is so misleading that it makes us click on it by accident. Maybe because the color palette doesn’t let us see correctly the cross to close it, or because the wording on it it’s not clear so you click on it while trying to dismiss it, or whatever reason that gets someone to click on the Ad when they didn’t mean to. No matter if the Display Ad is misleading intentionally or because someone made a mistake, if you have a bunch of people clicking on your Ad accidentally that will definitely increase your CTR while it won’t mean at all that people are trying to convert or even interested in your product.

Offers that are just too good 

This and click bait make similar points but have a pretty big difference that gets them separated items: Offers actually can be true so they happen to have other issues. First of all, Display Ads that include offers need to be good enough to attract people, so to run one you need to be willing to give a really good offer. For example, let’s say you have an accessories brand and throw an Ad saying “Free earrings today only”, which will probably get you a lot of traffic. So now you have a bunch of people on your website (A very high CTR) that are there only because they are interested in the free product you are offering. Of course, they may end up interested but you can’t assure that will happen and, much more likely, you’ll end up with very little or no conversions at all. So not only your CTR won’t mean conversions, but also you’ll have a much higher loss. Basically, just go with this if you are willing to give out a bunch of free products and get no conversions at all. And remember, people will always click on Display Ads that say “free”

Ad Fraud

They say “it happens even in the best families”, so why couldn’t it happen in yours? Before we said that the average CTR is 1/1000, so if you have a CTR of 250/1000 (25%!!) won’t that mean something really strange is happening? Sadly, the answer to this is being more and more this one: You are being a victim of Ad Fraud. In colloquial language, CTR means how many people clicked in your Display Ad over the total number of people who saw it, so what happens if the clicks don’t really come from people? I’m not talking about any supernatural issue, but about one that’s becoming more and more common in today’s Advertising Industry. That’s right my friends, many of your clicks might be coming from bots. 

I specifically left this point to the end because it’s both the most common and the one that you should be most worried about. The prior points, even when they obviously tend to not be helpful, might make sense in some particular scenarios. However, having your Display Ads being clicked on by bots really doesn’t seem like the best place to be in any possible situations. That’s why my recommendation here is to be on top of your analytics and be careful with the people you hire to run your Ad Campaigns as well as the sites your Ads are featuring in because having fully bot-integrated traffic is never a good choice for a website to make. 

To conclude, I believe it’s important to highlight that, of course, high CTRs won’t always mean a bad or sketchy thing. Sometimes websites really happen to be that good and people happen to click a lot in their Display Ads. However, this is usually not the case and, if you are not a Display Ad or PPC expert, you need to be careful on which strategy you  (or the Ad specialist you hired) choose to go for. Hopefully, the items listed in this article will help you know, overall, what to keep an eye on, but, worst-case scenario, the one important thing you should ask (to you, to your PPC specialist, or to God) is why aren’t your CTR numbers translating into actual conversions.

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