Marta Peral Ribeiro (Communication Consultant)

Digital marketing trends in 2020: what CTRs and impressions tell us

We wanted to know what was the average rate of the click-through-per-impression (CTR) for ads over the course of this year. Although national data is limited for this metric, it is known that investment in advertising increased between July and September in comparison to the previous quarter. What do these numbers tell us?

Marta Peral Ribeiro (Communication Consultant)

Digital marketing trends in 2020: what CTRs and impressions tell us

We wanted to know what was the average rate of the click-through-per-impression (CTR) for ads over the course of this year. Although national data is limited for this metric, it is known that investment in advertising increased between July and September in comparison to the previous quarter. What do these numbers tell us?

What is CTR and why is it important

CTR (Click-through Rate) in internet marketing, stands for a metric that measures the number of clicks on a specific link per number of times people were exposed to the link (aka the number of impressions): a user saw your ad (or a web page, an email), and effectively clicked on it.

CTR = number of clicks / number of impressions x 100

For example, if your ad has 10 clicks and 1000 impressions, CTR will be 1%.

CTR is thus an important metric in a company’s digital marketing plan because it allows you to evaluate which parts and campaigns performed best or what can be  improved to achieve other results – the higher the CTR, the lower the CPC (cost per click), consequently the more effective the marketing campaign.

So if your ad has a good placement in search engines (especially organically), it can get a higher Click-Through Rate and convert it into sales.

By knowing the click through rate metrics (CTRs) and the cost-per-click on major social networks and search engines, the return on investment of ads on the same platforms can be predicted.

Overview of marketing around the world – and in Portugal

Fluctuations in paid advertising were to be expected at the beginning of the pandemic, as everything became unpredictable from one moment to the next.

If on the one hand companies had to readjust to the challenges of the market, on the other hand consumers became more than ever immersed in the digital world.

The fact is that we have seen Ecommerce soar, as many businesses have accelerated their adaptation to digital platforms – including in Portugal. The growth covers both the number of users who buy online, as well as the volume and frequency of the purchases.

Socialbakers statistics for 2020 have proven this development since last year,  worldwide:

gráfico com os gastos globais em publicidade

There was a clear increase in paid metrics in digital marketing in the third quarter of 2020, which allows us to assess that digital channels are indeed effective  and, in turn,  many companies are more optimistic, directing their investment to digital platforms.

According to the same report, having analyzed the Facebook and Instagram accounts of the top 50 brands globally, one of the metrics that increased was CPC (cost per click), which at the beginning of the pandemic had decreased but by mid-second quarter increased again, maintaining the trend until now.

On the other hand, in the same period the CTR remained relatively stable, only falling slightly in comparison to the previous quarter (from 1% between April and June to 0.98% between July and September):

gráfico do custo de cliques do facebook e instagram

At a national level there has also been a growing investment in online marketing since last year – especially in the last month. In September this year the paid advertising in Portugal was higher compared to the investment made in September 2019 (respectively 1,007,167€ and 958,851€).

The recent study “Economy and Digital Society in Portugal” by   ACEPI – Digital Economy Association, in partnership with the IDC, reiterates the trend:

  • Portuguese companies continue to invest in online marketing betting on, as main channels: social networks, email and ads in search engines;
  • There has been a 73% increase in users buying about 3 to 5 times monthly;
  • National commerce is on the rise, thanks to the existence of more Portuguese online stores.

Additionally, the Marktest study “The Portuguese and Social Networks” 2020, reveals that not only has the number of users who have already made purchases on social networks doubled, but also 87% visit social networks frequently on a daily basis and 70% remember having seen advertising on social networks.

Network interactions

Interactions don’t indicate the CTR’s, but show you where the audience is, which makes it easier to plan your digital marketing strategy when channeling ad pieces according to the persona of your campaign.

On Facebook interactions include all reactions, comments, and shares of posts from another page. On Instagram they are calculated based on the “likes” and comments on posts of a profile.

·        By sector

Between July and September we verified that Ecommerce had the highest rate of interactions through Facebook and the second highest number of interactions on Instagram, preceded by the Fashion sector. 

According to the same source, these statistics are equally valid for the second quarter of this year. As we adjust to the “new normal”, will the trend continue?

gráficos com porcentagem

In Portugal, the statistics available in terms of industry indicate that Retail was at the top position of Facebook throughout the last two quarters:

as cinco principais industrias procuradas no facebook

·        By brand

In September 2020, these were the 5 brands with the highest number of interactions in Portugal:

as 5 marcas com o maior número de interacção

According to Marktest, one of the brands that has invested the most in advertising (although much of it has been directed to other advertising channels) is Continente. Therefore, it is not surprising that in the last few months (except for July), it is included in this table.

Organic advertising

Regarding ad placement in search engines (ex: Google), which can be organic or paid for, an American study of 500 users found that when they search, 85.2% opt for organic results rather than paid ads:

porcentagem dos que preferem propaganda paga ou orgânica no facebook

On social networks we compare the number of followers and their interactions from 2019 to now:

medição audiência, publicações e interações do instagram e facebook

In the third quarter of 2020, the audience of the profiles of the top 50 brands was 35% higher on Instagram than on Facebook, as in the second quarter (31.2%), which shows a consistent engagement on Instagram.

Compared to the same period in 2019, there was a reversal.

It is also interesting to observe organic interactions depending on the type of publication  (image, video, live, etc.):

  • Between July and September 2020, globally, live videos were the most successful format on Facebook, followed by common images and videos.
  • In the case of Instagram the preference was for the carousel images, followed by the common images and videos:

medição de tipos de publicações orgânicas do facebook e instagram

What can we retain from these studies?

These statistics are particularly useful if you have not yet invested in advertising (organic or paid) in search engines or social networks, because they allow you to adapt your company’s marketing strategy or, on the other hand, quantitatively predict the results of your customers, thus being able to better manage expectations.

In terms of search engine CTRs (in this case we refer to Google as the main one), even though it has evolved over the years, the goal of most users remains: they want a quick and easy answer to their questions. And written content remains the preference, although there is a growing interest in video content.

With regard to social media CTRs, Facebook proves  to be effective in terms of advertising and should undoubtedly be part of your brand’s marketing strategy, even if on Instagram you can find a higher audience at the organic level – which can lead us to review the persona of our business.

It’s important to separate templates from an online campaign to see if CTR is high or low, because the performance of an ad on the search network isn’t the same as an illustration ad. Generally, in the second case the goal is to gain views and not clicks.

Finally, one last aspect to consider is the visibility of your ads. There are more and more users blocking advertising (Ad blocking), which prevents them from being seen and slows down the performance of a campaign.