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This story is worth filing away for anyone involved in running a search ad company or thinking about investing in one:
Media agency Starcom USA,
behavioral targeting network Tacoda, and digital consumer insight
company comScore collaborated on a research study whose results call
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
The study illustrates that heavy clickers represent just 6% of the online population yet account for 50% of all display ad clicks. While many online media companies use click-through rate as an ad negotiation currency, the study shows that heavy clickers are not representative of the general public. In fact, heavy clickers skew towards Internet users between the ages of 25-44 and households with an income under $40,000.
Heavy clickers behave very differently online than the typical Internet user, and while they spend four times more time online than non-clickers, their spending does not proportionately reflect this very heavy Internet usage. Heavy clickers are also relatively more likely to visit auctions, gambling, and career services sites – a markedly different surfing pattern than non-clickers.
Further preliminary Starcom data suggests no correlation between display ad clicks and brand metrics, and show no connection between measured attitude towards a brand and the number of times an ad for that brand was clicked. The research presentation suggests that when digital campaigns have a branding objective, optimizing for high click rates does not necessarily improve campaign performance.
“There is more and more emphasis by advertisers for greater
return-on-objectives in campaigns, particularly in the digital space
where the accountability data is so readily available,“ says Starcom
USA Director of Connections Research and Analytics Grant Prentice.
“Natural Born Clickers shows us that we can’t count on click-through
rate as our primary success metric for display ads; Starcom is more
reliant on shifts in brand attitude metrics and analytics tying on-line
exposure to sales as the true measures of online advertising efficacy.”
“While the click can continue to be a relevant metric for direct response advertising campaigns, this study demonstrates that click performance is the wrong measure for the effectiveness of brand-building campaigns,” said Erin Hunter, executive vice president at comScore. “For many campaigns, the branding effect of the ads is what’s really important and generating clicks is more of an ancillary benefit. Ultimately, judging a campaign’s effectiveness by clicks can be detrimental because it overlooks the importance of branding while simultaneously drawing conclusions from a sub-set of people who may not be representative of the target audience.”
“One of the underlying values of looking at people and not just pages in our business is that we are able to help uncover behavior that is counterintuitive to what much of the media world assumes about online audiences,” says Daniel Jaye, CEO of TACODA.
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