Who is Clicking on Your Banners…Probably a middle-aged, sweepstakes-loving, Midwestern woman who likes junk mail and the Packers

Advertising is the bread and butter of the web, yet most of my friends claim that they never click on ads, typically using a peacock tone that signals their pride in being ad-averse. The geekier amongst them go out of their way to run Mozilla scripts to scrape ads away, bemoaning the presence of consumer culture. Yet, companies increasingly rely on ad revenue to turn a profit and, while clicking on ads may be declining, it certainly hasn’t gone away. This raises a critical question: Who are the people that click on ads? >>Full Story

Thoughts// Okay, so maybe they are not all Green Bay Packers fans. But according to some recent data from AOL they are probably middle-aged women from the Midwest. This story, which highlights those findings, asks the question how and why social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook rely so heavily on this type of advertising for revenue. And, since we all seem to ‘hate’ ads, who actually does click these ads?

While this conversation is very interesting on its own, it does lead nicely into another conversation I have been having internally over the past few weeks…what type of measurement stats should we be monitoring? If the majority of the clicks are coming from one, single demo, how valuable are those clicks? If the clicks don’t lead to a conversion, should you value those clicks the same as ones that do?

To steal a quote from the article ‘the ad world is obsessed with clicks because they can measure those.’

As more and more reasons mount to move away from the page view statistic (see online video, AJAX) and as this trend begins to come into the mainstream (see Nielsen/NetRatings dropping the page view stat in favor of time spent) we as marketers need to begin looking at different metrics to help measure the effectiveness of our campaigns.

Tangible statistics or, as Mo’s team at Travel Oregon likes to say, engagement statistics such as (for a DMO) guides / brochures ordered, time spent on pages, time spent on key pages, search terms, downloads, email database sign-ups, blog stats or account-based pages used in conjunction with visitors and unique visitor metrics can begin to reveal a more realistic picture of who and what your website consumers actually are and what they are doing.

With that kind of information and data, you can actually start advertising and marketing to your target audience rather than everyone.

Comment? @travel2dot0 or email.