When I was at Google, I was asked daily by partners what number was a good search click-through rate (CTR). After a year, my personal opinion was that a 1% CTR on search was good. I thought it was a good stake in the sand; stakes in the sand are always better than no stakes. Data is always helpful in understanding products, so we felt it made sense to run through our front page click-through rates.
BuzzFeed has non-standard, front page advertiser units because they generate much better click through rates than standard display units. We like being iconoclastic, but we don’t do it for kicks alone.
Each page currently has two “story units” marked in yellow and anywhere from two to 10 promoted thumbnail units. The story units are sponsored by publisher or brand partners, and our in-house viral media specialists, led by Scott, work with brands to come up with messages and content that have above average chances of “going viral.” The upper story unit gets 4% to 5% click through rate and the lower does 1.5% to 2%. As Eric, burst out to me as he was walking me through the numbers, “These have to be one some of the best performing display units on the Internet!”
(Click the image above for a better, bigger view)
And the other units do remarkably well too. Click rates for our Thumbnail Units of .25% to .7% are excellent in anyone’s estimation.
Our 7 million users come looking for serendipity and to discover what everyone’s looking at and sharing NOW. We label and integrate our units to fit into the format that works for our content. Our advertising is native and organic to our product, and we have even more formats coming that fit this philosophy.