Evaluating the success of display campaigns can be an exercise in relativity. You gauge current campaigns against past performance or compare across multiple campaigns and advertisers within your roster of brands or clients.

But in seeking more comprehensive benchmarks that reflect trends going on in the display industry, you might find yourself falling short. Advertisers and agencies alike are looking for more data to answer the basic questions of "How do I know if my display ad campaigns are doing well?" and "Are there credible benchmarks I can use to compare the results on my current campaign?"

It’s no surprise then that our display benchmarks have met with much enthusiasm since we first started publishing the data in 2009. We’re pleased to introduce a dedicated space for display benchmarks data on the Watch This Space website. The first set of metrics you’ll see available are the latest display benchmarks which cover the breadth of data from CTR metrics to engagement metrics for rich media ads such as interaction and expansion rate, video complete rates and average interaction times -- all across a broad range of ad sizes, creative types and industry verticals.

Some interesting observations from these latest benchmarks:

  • Use of rich media ad formats have doubled. We saw a two-fold increase in the proportion of impressions going to Rich Media ads. In 2010, simple flash ads accounted for 54% of all global formats served via the DoubleClick for Advertisers platform, down from 74% in 2009. Image ads, in comparison, experienced an uptick with 28% of formats served in 2010 up from 17% in 2009. That leaves rich media ad formats growing to 18% of all the impressions served in 2010 up from 9% globally in 2009.
  • Response and engagement rates have been holding steady since 2009. In the past two years, the overall click-through rate has remained steady at around 0.09%.


  • Interaction rates trended slightly lower when comparing Q4 2010 to Q4 2009 but in general this measure of engagement has remained relatively steady over the course of 2010 after coming down from its peak in early 2009. (Note: Due to a change in the DFA methodology for interaction rates back in April 2008, we only reflect benchmarking data for interaction rates from then onward.)
  • Expansion rates have fallen considerably since early 2009 but now we are seeing rates leveling off with a slight uptick towards the end of 2010.
  • Video completion rates on rich media ads have generally remained consistent except for a several month peak towards the later half of 2008.


  • Larger ad sizes tend to generate greater response. Size does matter apparently. As we have seen in years past, bigger ads perform better. We observed this with the latest set of metrics in which the half-page ad unit (300x600) which had the highest CTR, interaction rate (for both in-page and expandable formats) and expansion rates of all the available creative sizes we tracked for the benchmarks.
  • Although the U.S. had one of the lowest expansion rates, this market showed the highest expansion time. So Americans seem to expand ads less but when they do spend more time engaging with the ads themselves.
  • In terms of industry verticals, auto advertisers performed the best in terms of CTR (0.13% for flash ads) but conversely had the lowest interaction (1.9%) and expansion rates (0.2%). For interaction rate, telecom (9.4%) and B2B (9.2%) advertisers were the highest while B2B stood out in terms of expansion rate (7.5%) benchmarks.

A couple of notes about this latest set of online advertising benchmarks. The data for these benchmarks are derived from a robust data set across DoubleClick for Advertisers, based on rigorous methodology with input from the Advertising Research Foundation. The charts cover global benchmark figures for the entirety of 2010 by ad format, ad size and industry vertical. The benchmarks are normalized across hundreds of advertisers, thousands of campaigns, and tens of billions of ad impressions.

For additional insights and access to the full set of available benchmarks, visit the benchmarks section on the Watch This Space website. More in-depth benchmarks by industry are available exclusively to DoubleClick clients so contact your account manager to discuss further.