Why Color Choice Can Impact Ad Performance

John Weisgerber HeadshotBy John Weisgerber, SVP Sales, GumGum

Your color choices can have a huge impact on campaign performance because 85 percent of people cite color as the main reason why they buy a particular product. There are longstanding theories in advertising and branding that specific colors connote universal feelings and emotions, and elicit specific behaviors. When it comes to buying a luxury item such as a car, however, things get a little more complex. Color choices are not only tied to personal perception, but also to resale and market value. It’s also especially important to understand now that luxury buyers are making purchasing decisions on the increasingly visual web, where colors reign supreme.

Let’s take a look at the impact certain colors can have.

In industries such as consumer technology, the color in an ad that elicits the highest click-through rate (CTR), black, is also the most popular color for purchased products. Not so in the automotive business, where ads featuring cars that are blue tend to get the highest CTR across the board – every format from traditional and in-image/in-screen, where it is the most clicked on with a 1.03% CTR based on 13,616,815 impressions. However, unlike the consumer technology and other industries, blue doesn’t even make the top three overall most popular colors of cars that are actually purchased (that honor goes to silver, white, and black, according to Kelley Blue Book (KBB), with white getting first place in a different survey by PPG).

The reason for this discrepancy could be the sheer magnitude of a car purchase, which is so momentous that it only happens every four to six years. What draws potential customers in may be the more aspirational and adventurous colors – in-image ads with luxury cars that are red get the highest CTR (3.45@ based on 4,029,159 impressions), for example — but ultimately the most popular luxury car color that is actually purchased is silver, according to KBB’s study, and accounts for 20 percent of all luxury cars sold. The same source surmises that the popularity of these colors for actual purchases may have to do with the gadget-obsessed world we live in, where the majority of smartphones and other devices are white and silver.

But there are other reasons, too: Together, silver, white, and black account for 50 percent of all cars sold, making them exceedingly easy to be resold later. In other words, you’ll sell your car a lot more easily if it isn’t emerald green or dark blue, which is probably why drivers who ultimately choose red, black, and white cars reported having low to average levels of confidence and like to play it safe. (Not surprisingly, drivers of emerald green or dark blue reported having elevated levels of confidence.) It makes sense, since it takes confidence to be cavalier about the diminished resale value of your car.

Whether they’re adventurous or cautious, confident or unsure, consumers connect with brands via colors. Finding the right colors for that connection particularly important in a world where two billion images are shared online every day and Instagram has 400 million monthly active users. This is good news, because in today’s visual-first, mobile-and-social-consumed culture, there is more opportunity to capture the attention of those consumers’ via color than ever before.


As SVP of Sales, John Weisgerber oversees GumGum’s talented sales team and is responsible for driving sales strategy, revenue and team development. John brings twenty-five years of sales leadership experience to GumGum, with a track record of building profitable online businesses and driving revenue. Before joining GumGum, John was the Executive Director of Digital Advertising at Hearst Corp. in its Fashion and Luxury Collection, which includes He also served as Vice President of Digital Advertising of Hachette Filipacchi Media and, prior to that, he was Group Advertising Director of John has been a member of the IAB Executive Sales Council and Professional Development Committee since 2005 and holds a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of Denver.