Who’s Been Clicking On My Banner?

A new study reveals that “heavy clickers” distort reality of display advertising click-through metrics. The study conducted by Media agency Starcom USA, behavioral targeting network Tacoda, and digital consumer insight company comScore calls into question click-through rates as a primary source of accountability for Internet display advertising aimed at brand-building. Called “Natural Born Clickers,” the study reveals that a very small group of consumers who are not representative of the total U.S. online population is accountable for the vast majority of display ad click-through behavior. >>Full Story

Thoughts// Given the similarity to the results of an AOL study that we reported on late last year, I’m frankly not surprised by this new study. But if you need more convincing that reign of the “click thru” as a tangible measure of success for digital campaign is over, you might want to pick this report up. According to the study, just 6 percent of the online population (“Natural Born Clickers”) are responsible for more than 50 percent of display ad clicks! These serial clickers are reportedly drastically different than the general online population and tend to:

  1. Be between the ages of 25-44 with a households income of under $40,000.
  2. Spend more time online (four times as much) while spending proportionally less than non-clickers.
  3. Spend more time at auctions, gambling, and career services sites.

Most significantly however, the study suggests that there is no connection between measured attitude towards a brand and the number of times an ad for that brand was clicked.

So what should you do? The reality is that at least for direct response or sweeps types of promotions, the click thrus (and resulting leads) might be a more relevant measure of success; but when it comes to online branding campaigns, you might have to dig a bit deeper.

At Travel Oregon (and at AOT as well), the click thru has now become just a cursory indicator; to examine whether a given sets of clicks are meaningful and relevant to the messaging, we dive deep into “time spent on site” plus a host of other measurables that we fondly call “engagement“. Engagement to us is any tangible action a user takes on our site including: ordering a travel guide, subscribing to e-mail or RSS, opening a travel planner account, adding stuff to their travel planner account (events, restaurants etc.), downloading a ring tone, signing up for a contest etc.

When expressed as a percentage of overall traffic from a particular site, it can quickly tell you the relevance of that “click thru” number. Long live the click thru!

(Note: As of this writing, we have not been able to get the full published ‘Natural Born Clickers’ report; as soon as we get our hands on it, we’ll have it here for download)

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