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Many websites default to the 728×90 (leaderboard) ad size when designing their site. This is a reasonably good option as it has the second highest click through rate of the various standard ad units. But it is possible to do better. Marketing Sherpa researched clickthrough rates by ad size (from largest ad unit to smallest) recently:

The chart shows that click through rate is not simply a function of the size of the ad. The largest ad unit, the wide skyscraper (160×600) has the second lowest click through rate. For the full range of IAB standard ad units, click here.

  • http://thoughtseclectic.com Mike

    Isn’t CTR highly correlated with where you can place an ad? The 300X250 is widely used within text, where 160×600 is typically a sidebar. This numbers are unconditional and thus not perfect indications of what the “perfect” size is.

  • http://www.spideysenses.com Ted Rheingold

    * I agree with Mike. The box ads fit best in content areas and are the least easy to mentally block out. Google AdSense sales reps /always/ push the 300×250 size as their data shows the same stats I’d imagine that Marketing Sherpa does.

    * It’s odd that the 120×600 performs better than the 160×600. That’s a head scratcher

    * The sooner advertisers accept it’s time to leave the 1990’s era IAB standard sizes behind and commit to making placements that work best work for the products they are advertising and the sites they are advertising in, the sooner they’ll get all their CTRs as high as they can be ;>

  • spanky

    This study has some really surprising results. As a media buyer (for as long as you’ve been able to purchase ads online), I can confidently say that 300×250 is the best ad unit, followed by 160×600. Leaderboards almost always do poorly because users have developed banner blindness on top. And ultimately, CPA is what matters, so a low CTR w/ higher CR might work better for the advertiser. But you are right about websites defaulting to 728×90 – I can be seen regularly jumping up and down at work encouraging engineers to incorporate more 300×250 into the site, above the fold… :)