Adding a call-to-action element into digital ads may seem like a quick and easy way to increase conversion rates, but according to a new study from Dynamic Logic, call-to-action ads don’t affect brand performance.

Campaigns only looking for one specific action from consumers may benefit from call-to-action elements, but for the rest, success once again comes down to ad quality.

Dynamic Logic’s “Beyond the Click” study uses data from MarketNorms, the company’s database of over 6,000 online ad campaigns.

The results run counter to the accepted wisdom that directs marketers to include a call-to-action. Just look at this note from CreativeBoom:

“‘Download A Free Trial Now!’ May look down market and tacky, but if
it doubles your Click Through Rate, then you would be stupid not to
include this type of call to action in your advert text.”

Apparently when it comes to hard numbers, such offers are not very successful. In fact, Dynamic Logic found little difference in brand performance between ads that have a call-to-action and those that don’t.

What kind of offers actually make people click? According to Dynamic Logic, time-sensitive links and sharing requests. According to the study:

“Time-Based ads (e.g. “Sale ends October 1”) create a sense of urgency, making them effective in impacting awareness.  Advertising that encourages a viewer to “create their own” (e.g. “Build your custom dream car”); or “send something” (e.g. “Share this with a friend”) is effective at raising favorability and consideration of a brand.”

Dynamic Logic attributes the success of sharing to the current popularity of social media. As habits change there, it’s not hard to imagine ad sharing links becoming an easily ignored feature in advertising. To avoid ad blindness, Dynamic Logic also encourages marketers to add humor, a top factor the company identified in viral content.

According to Lindsay Leon-Atkins, Research Director at Dynamic Logic:

“When including a call-to-action, marketers should try leveraging interactive features that engage the viewer, allowing them to feel as though they have benefited from the experience and are leaving with a favorable impression of the brand.”