How does Banner Advertising Compare Against Native In-stream Advertising in Facebook?

This post reviews recent campaigns using our Showtime technology in action on banners for two large campaigns in Europe. We then compare the results and ROI with two small campaigns for a cinema chain in Denmark, where we discover that to achieve the same results costs 3% of the estimated budget that was used for the banner ads. In short on a straightforward ROI comparison based on actions related to showtimes the news feed player significantly outperforms the banner.

In a previous blog posting we discussed the recent stat published in Wired that found you were more likely to die in a plane accident than to click on a banner advert for given promotion. Banner display advertising dominates the way many brands approach digital campaigns, which we find surprising given the wealth of different opportunities there are for targeting and communicating to audiences. If we review two campaigns we were part of in 2014:

  1. Campaign 1: 4.726 Million banner impressions led to 970 people hovering over the ‘Get Tickets’ button and 489 (0.0001%) then exiting the banner to the ticket office for the movie – EST COST £8K – £12K GBP
  2. Campaign 2: 555,954 impressions led to 430 hovering over the the ‘Get Tickets’ button and 189 (0.0003%) users then exiting the banner to go to the ticket office for the movie – EST COST £3K – £4K GBP

In both experiences there was a creative, banner set up and placement process that also involved substantial costs (check out the work flow below to get an idea of how complicated the process can be). Please note, we don’t have an accurate rate card on the following, so these are estimated costs.

Advertising media value chain

Campaign 1 – a full page take-over incorporating flash animation and a roll over for displaying local showtimes. Estimated set up cost:

  • Design and setup £1500 – £2500 GBP based on this break down
  • Client side Communication planning and set up – factored in around 6 – 8 hours – an additional £600 – £800 GBP
  • Set up and technical delivery of the showtimes component – 4 -8 hours £500 GBP


Campaign 2 – regular leaderboard presentation incorporating and a roll-over for displaying local showtimes. Estimated set up cost:

  • Design and setup £600 – £800 GBP based on this break down
  • Client side communication planning and set up – factored in around 6 – 8 hours – an additional £600 – £800 GBP
  • Set up and technical delivery of the showtimes component – 4 -8 hours £500 GBP


We compared these performances with recent campaigns we ran using the Newsfeed player, which we refer to in our case studies:

Newsfeed Player

For the last few films we’ve ran, the costs stack up as follows:

Blockbuster 1 – budget £55 GBP

  • 1167 player views
  • 15% investigated showtimes
  • 21% watched the trailer
  • 3% exited to book ticket

Hunger Games: Mockingjay – budget £43 GBP

  • 1070 player views
  • 21% investigated showtimes
  • 20% watched the trailer
  • 5% exiting to book tickets

Both apps were created, deployed and launched on Facebook’s ad exchange in 10 mins. There were no placement costs, design fees, etc. Therefore to achieve the same exit to tickets and investigating showtimes results as the banners would have cost £300 per campaign or the same results for 3% of the budget for running the banner campaigns.

We appreciate this is not an apples for apples comparison there are plenty of good arguments for the rich display banner advertising contributing to awareness, also the banners relied on a click or roll over in order to secure showtimes, our newsfeed player (depending on settings) displayed showtimes as soon as the user clicked the play button. Reviewing the numbers on actual click throughs to ticketing shows that once the user began the process of investigation of showtimes, exiting to buy tickets occurred roughly 50% of the time which is an excellent conversion rate. Therefore, there is a strong argument that by displaying showtimes automatically after the load of the creative, rather than relying on the click of a button would improve conversion rates. By how much though remains to be seen.

As Andrew Chen revealed in his blog post on the Law of Shitty Click Throughs; at some point the factors that contribute to ad performance decline will ultimately affect Facebook too. We appreciate the platform and our continued advertising success is largely due to the ability to combine micro-targeting based on interests and relevant demographics information. We also have substantial evidence to prove the novelty of native advertising units combined with social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, G+, etc offer exciting opportunities for continued exploration and development with Wave our cloud based solutions for entertainment content marketing.

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