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Advertising as a science

Want to advertise on a Web page? Be wary of Mondays. That's the one day of the week Netizens are least likely to click on the ad, according to a new study.

Want to run a banner ad on a Web page? Be wary of Mondays.

That's the one day of the week Netizens are least likely to click on the ad, according to a study that, ironically, is being released today.

Internet Profiles (I/Pro), the largest Net service that counts ad-supported Web site visitors, and DoubleClick Network, which works with advertisers in targeting specific demographic groups, crunched the numbers from more than 100 million ad views. The results are being released in their study, entitled "A Comprehensive Analysis of Ad Response."

Nuggets in the study range from which day of the week gets the best results for clicking on banner ads to effective phrasing to snare customers. Netizens click on 2.11 percent of all ad banners displayed, while direct mail typically generates a 1 percent to 2 percent response ratem and print ads .5 percent to .75 percent, the study states.

And what about advertising on the best day? Saturdays got the best response with 2.28 percent, followed by Sundays with 2.20 percent. But Web usage is about 25 percent lower on weekends than during the work week, Bob Ivins, I/Pro's vice president of research, told CNET. Monday's generated the lowest response rate of 2.01 percent.

Outside of choosing a date to run the ad, a number of other details need to be considered. Here are a few tips offered in the study:

--Animated ads work best. Adding animation to a simple image or GIF boosts response rates 25 percent.

--Cryptic messages ("Click here"), unaccompanied by any other text, increase the response rate 18 percent over the average.

--Questions ("Too many passwords to remember?") elicit a 16 percent higher click-through than the average.

--Calls to action ("See us now") improve response rates by 15 percent.

--Free stuff doesn't always work; it depends on the stuff. Offers of free hardware or software shot response rates up 35 percent above the average. But free travel offers produced a 10 percent lower click rate, while money offers were 6 percent less effective than the average.

--Bright colors (blue, green, yellow) work best, while red, white, and black are less effective.

--Don't rush people. "Limited time only," "one more week remaining," and similarly urgent offers generally performed below average.

"Advertisers have to know what their objectives are," Ivins said. "If you want to do an awareness campaign, you can treat the Web like a billboard and get low response rates. If you want to get responses, use questions."

The study divided the data into even more specific chunks based on user demographics. For example, users from a ".net" domain produced 20 percent higher click-through than those from ".com" addresses.

Visitors from non-Western countries such as Asian nations generated much higher response rates than U.S. users. Click rates from Taiwan drew 4.3 percent and Korea a 4.2 percent rate. U.S.-based visitors, on the other hand, had a 1.9 percent click rate.

"One theory is that the countries in the early stages of Web development are still enjoying the novelty of it," Ivins said.