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  • Writer's pictureRick Julian

Fat Fingers: Heavy Clickers Skew Click Through Rates

Recent research 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. The study illustrates that heavy clickers represent just 6% of the online population yet account for 50% of all display ad clicks.

Heavy clickers skew towards Internet users between the ages of 25-44, and households with an income under $40,000. Heavy clickers spend four times more time online than non-clickers, and their spending does not proportionately reflect this very heavy Internet usage.

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.

“Natural Born Clickers” shows us that we can’t count on click-through rate as our primary success metric for display ads.

“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.”

Comment: We’re surprised by these numbers, but familiar with the phenomena. We’ve often been left scratching our heads in wonder as what we considered prime on-line display creative creative performed far below expectations.

Another variable that must be taken into consideration is environment. From a design/user experience perspective, not all sites which present display advertising are created equally. Cluttered and visually noisy sites are less likely to engage users to click any of the content presented–advertising or editorial–resulting in poor CTR perfomance.

Be sensitive to the design environments into which you’re investing your marketing and branding dollars.

Photo credit: tia_inspirativa

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