Size Matters: Can Optimizing For Screen Size & Resolution Increase User Engagement And CTR?

Over the last decade, digital marketing and advertising have transformed significantly due to the rapid advancement of technology and analytical techniques.

One aspect of technology which has changed significantly over time, and continues to carry a substantial impact, is the screen resolution of the marketer’s audience. Apple’s new Retina Display and the extensive marketing push surrounding it exemplifies the general trend of larger consumer electronics companies pushing for a high-resolution Web.

Screen resolution is the measurement of how many pixels a computer monitor can display at once. Older monitors display a pixel count in the hundreds of thousands; whereas, newer monitors can claim a pixel count well into the millions. As the number of pixels displayed grows, so does the quality of the images rendered on the monitors of a marketer’s target audience.

An Important Aspect To Consider

While screen resolution is important, the aspect ratio of a monitor also plays a significant role in the visual experience of someone on the Web. The aspect ratio is the proportion between a screen’s width and height, and determines how an image renders on a monitor.

Older, SD monitors use a 4:3 aspect ratio; whereas, newer HD monitors can use a 16:9 aspect ratio. Often, the highest quality image will result from the resolution that best fits the monitor’s aspect ratio. Many computer monitors also offer support for different screen resolutions and aspect ratios.

Who To Focus On?

As high resolution displays continue to proliferate in the digital landscape, marketers are faced with an interesting dilemma: what is the most effective way to run a campaign that will be exposed to the target audience across a wide range of resolutions with varying quality?

To answer this question, a recent study by Chitika Insights compared the level of user engagement (CTR) seen across the most popular aspect ratios on the Web.

The data used in this study is composed of hundreds of millions of impressions from the Chitika Ad Network, across the date range of September 28th, 2012, to October 4th, 2012. The Chitika Ad Network is composed of hundreds of thousands of publishers, enough to ensure a fair and representative sample of the overall Web.

Chitika Insights found that consumers using older monitors displaying a 4:3 aspect ratio were 9% more likely to click on an ad than those using newer 16:9 and 16:10 monitors. This data suggests that the size and resolution of a monitor can be used as a gauge to determine the likelihood of a user to engage with a campaign or advertisement.

Monitor As Proxy

This study has interesting implications when considering the age of a monitor as a proxy for other behavioral tendencies. Aside from a few outliers, it seems reasonable to assume that users of newer monitors are generally more tech savvy. Given this assumption, the type of monitor used by your audience can be a strong indicator for the user’s technological proficiency, regardless of other demographic factors.

One key takeaway from these results is that marketers and advertisers would do well to pay close attention to their high-value market segments. Marketers can support intelligent decision-making by understanding key demographic elements of their desired market segment. For instance, it may be difficult to sway a less tech-savvy user to purchase a high-tech product;  therefore, a marketer’s budget may be better spent elsewhere.

Insight Into Interests

Screen resolution can provide insight into a user’s set of interests. For instance, someone using an older 4:3 monitor (which have not been widely produced for a number of years) would seem to be unlikely to be interested in purchasing a new motherboard for their computer.

Advertisers could use this as an input to choose which websites and platforms they run their campaigns on. Obviously, marketers should use a variety of input variables to optimize campaigns to their target market segments. Screen resolution is just one that is seldom mentioned, but can be a useful indicator for marketers.


Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.

Related Topics: Analytics | Analytics & Marketing Column | Channel: Analytics


About The Author: is a Data Solutions Engineer at Chitika and a lead author for reports by Chitika Insights, the research arm of the online ad service. After graduating with a B.A. in Business Administration from Ithaca College, Gabe has been pursuing his passion for technology by researching and analyzing new and emerging trends in the online world.

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  • Sean Cook

    This is why responsive design is becoming so popular.


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