Display Ads More Effective in Europe than the U.S.

Display advertising in Europe more effectively influences users’ online behavior than in the U.S., according to a research conducted by comScore. The measurement firm released research this week concluding display ads in the U.K. and Europe drive substantially more traffic to advertisers’ sites and promote a greater number of trademark search queries than in the U.S.

The study, titled ” How Online Advertising Works: Whither the Click in Europe,” suggests users in Europe are 72 percent more likely to visit an advertiser’s site having previously been exposed to display ads, compared with 49 percent lift in the U.S. In addition, it found European users are 94 percent more likely to conduct a search query on an advertiser trademark after seeing an ad, but are only 40 percent more likely to do so in the U.S.

Regardless of those discrepancies, the purported impact of display advertising in both markets will come as good news to both advertisers and publishers, as click-through rates, or CTRs, continue to decline. As the report states, “display advertising, despite a lack of clicks, can have a significant positive impact on consumer behavior.”

Commenting on the findings, Mike Shaw, comScore’s director of marketing solutions and one of the report authors, said, “The results of these initial ad effectiveness studies we’ve conducted in Europe are rather provocative. They not only demonstrate a clear view-through value of online ads independent of Internet users clicking on the ads, but the resulting lifts in behavior substantially outperform what we’ve seen in the U.S.”

The report draws on 20 ad effectiveness studies conducted by comScore in the U.K., France, Germany and Spain, and compares the findings with data from U.S. studies, originally released in November 2008. Speaking with ClickZ, comScore’s director of industry analysis, Andrew Lipsmann, acknowledged the time gap between the sets of research, but said it was unlikely to account for the difference in their findings. “Its possible that it could contribute to some of the difference, but it would be pretty minimal,” he said.

In terms of explaining the differences between the U.S. and European markets, comScore offers up a number of hypotheses. First, it notes that users in Europe are, on average, exposed to fewer online ads than in the U.S., suggesting less is more in terms of their impact. Secondly it notes that search activity is higher in the U.K., meaning driving users to search could be easier.

It also asserts, however, that a primary factor could be that European, and in particular U.K. advertisers, are doing a better job creatively. Citing numbers from ad serving and management firm Eyeblaster, the report suggests European consumers are more likely to engage with rich media ads than users in the U.S., inferring the creative is “more enticing.”

Speaking with ClickZ in June 2008, Manuel Ferreiro, Eyeblaster’s creative customer service manager for the Latin region suggested agencies within Europe are more adventurous than in the U.S., stating “In Spain we like to take risks. Of course the markets are different, but maybe the U.S. is a little more conservative than Europe. The most creative and high impact work is coming from within Europe and Asia at the moment.”

The whitepaper also estimates average click-through rates on display ads in the U.S. currently lie at .10 percent, compared with 0.08 percent for the U.K. It suggests Norway has the lowest rates of the markets it features, at 0.07 percent, and that Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates have the highest, at 0.29 percent and 0.26 percent, respectively.

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