New Rocket Fuel Study Brings Science to Creative Design, Quantifies Design Impact on Ad Campaign Performance

Comprehensive Study Shows Strategic Design Decisions Can Increase Conversions, by More Than 600% in Some Verticals

REDWOOD CITY, Calif.--()--Rocket Fuel (NASDAQ:FUEL), a leading provider of artificial intelligence (AI) advertising and marketing solutions for global agencies and brands, today announced the release of its Guide to Creative Optimization. The analysis quantifies the impact of specific design choices on conversion rates; by making strategic design decisions, marketers can increase conversion rates by more than 600% in some verticals.

The comprehensive study analyzed nearly 40,000 banner ads from 1,076 advertisers across 16 verticals, totaling 23.3 billion impressions served between November 2013 and June 2014. Researchers categorized ads to determine which elements played a role in engaging customer response according to the following criteria: background color, whether the ad was static or animated, animation length, call to action, presence of an advertiser logo, presence of people, and whether an ad’s message contained a special or limited-time offer.

“Rocket Fuel's Guide To Creative Optimization has achieved exactly what it set out to do, delivering a rare aggregation of insights into some of the most important verticals in business,” said Arthur Ceria, Executive Creative Director and Founder of Creative Feed. “It’s great to vet and be able to have this knowledge internally, but also to be able to apply this information to our clients' work. At the intersection of performance data and creativity lies opportunity, and it is extremely rare for a company to both find this knowledge, share it, and allow all of us to be better.”

“It's important to quantify the role design plays in the success of advertising campaigns,” said Robert Jones, Research Director at Rocket Fuel. “Using AI to put the right ad in front of the right person is only part of the equation. Our research illuminates how much of an ad's performance is due to controllable factors like background color or logo placement.”

Key findings of the study include:

  • The Color Red, Faces, Animation and Logo Placement Can Increase Campaign Performance. The color of backgrounds, use of animation, human faces, showing the product, and company logo placement all have a significant impact on performance across all the verticals examined, with specific design choices showing a strong correlation with higher results, for example:
    • Red backgrounds averaged +31% higher conversion rates across all verticals, whereas gray backgrounds averaged -8%.
    • Animated creatives averaged 7% higher conversion rates across most verticals, and animated ads with 6-9 seconds of animation (including loops) averaged the highest rates among those (138% higher).
    • Ads with human faces averaged 4% higher conversion rates.
    • Ads that show the product averaged 6% higher conversion rates than those that don’t
    • Ads with a logo in the lower-left corner of the ad (as opposed to any other location) averaged 81% higher conversion rates.
  • Commonly Used Design is Not Always The Most Effective. For many design elements the top-performing attributes were not the most common. This was highly prevalent in Telecom, where only 10% of ads included an offer for a free phone or tablet even though ads that include such offers average 98% higher conversion rates compared to the category average.

In addition to findings pertinent across verticals, several vertical-specific insights were discovered to have high impact on conversions, including:

  • Autos: Safety Matters. Creative averaged higher conversion rates when messaging around safety was used (+220%, as opposed to fuel efficiency or dependability).
  • Entertainment: Celebrity Gender. Ads featuring male celebrities averaged conversion rates 670% higher than ads featuring female celebrities, though ads with female celebrities tended to average the same click-through rates overall. This seems to be emphasized by trends—while 52% of ads featured a celebrity of either gender, the breakdowns were heavily skewed, with 41% of ads featuring male celebrities to only 8% featuring female celebrities.
  • Travel: Length of Trip. Ads with a length of trip in their messaging averaged conversion rates a whopping +227% higher than those without that information.
  • Dining: Core Messaging and Special Offers. The sample included many volume-based offers for restaurants, e.g. messaging that offered more food at the same price (such as a free side or a buy-one-get-one-free offer). These ads averaged conversion rates +284% higher than the vertical average, better than price-based and contest-based promotions.

“Some might look at the data and conclude that it over-prescribes creative opportunities,” said Eric Porres, Rocket Fuel CMO. “But we think the opposite is true. The data illuminates what has worked well in the past, but it doesn’t limit the discovery of what might work in the future. One of the best benefits of programmatic is that it enables affordable and fast real-world testing of literally any idea or hypothesis you can imagine. It opens possibilities—it doesn’t close them.”

For more information and to review the full study, please visit

Rocket Fuel does not make any warranty, representation, guarantee, express or implied, about the study. Any reliance on, or use of, the study results and/or this press release is at your own risk.

About Rocket Fuel

Rocket Fuel delivers a leading programmatic media-buying platform at Big Data scale that harnesses the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to improve marketing ROI in digital media across web, mobile, video, and social channels. Rocket Fuel powers digital advertising and marketing programs globally for customers in North America, Latin America, Europe, and APAC. Customers trust Rocket Fuel’s Advertising That Learns® platform to achieve brand and direct-response objectives in diverse industries from luxury cars to financial services to retail. Rocket Fuel currently operates in more than 20 offices worldwide and trades on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the ticker symbol “FUEL.” For more information, please visit or call 1-888-717-8873.


Rocket Fuel
Kenya Hayes, 650-481-6178

Release Summary

Rocket Fuel announced the release of its Guide to Creative Optimization. The new study brings science to creative design and quantifies design impact on ad campaign performance.


Rocket Fuel
Kenya Hayes, 650-481-6178