The Widening Gap Between Click-Through and Display Ad Success

By October 09, 2009

The value of the click as a metric of advertising success took a serious knock from the analysis of a report released this month. The growing irrelevancy of click-through measurement was charted over nearly two years. “A click means nothing, earns no revenue and creates no brand equity. Your online advertising has some goal—and it’s certainly not to generate clicks,” said John Lowell, Starcom USA SVP and director, research and analytics, in a statement in eMarketer today.

The report compares data from a survey taken in March 2009 from comScore and Starcom with a Tacoda July 2007 study that segments Internet users into heavy, moderate and light clickers. The documentation shows a decreasing percentage of users are making up an increasing portion of all click-throughs.

Heavy clickers (individuals whose click frequency was in the top fifty percent) made up six percent in July 2007, which dwindled down to four percent in March 2009. Moderate clickers (middle thirty percent) from ten percent to four percent. Light clickers (bottom twenty percent) from sixteen clickers down to eight percent.

The total number of clickers dropped from 32 percent to sixteen percent in those twenty months. "Non-clickers" - those Internet users who do not click on ads at all, rose from 68 percent to 84 percent in the same period.

Display Ad click share by type. Heavy clickers - from fifty percent to 67 percent of click-throughs. Moderate clickers - from thirty percent to eighteen percent. Light clickers from twenty clickers to fifteen percent.

With these numbers, it is hard to take seriously the already crumbling view that the number of times that an advertisement is clicked on has anything to do with how successful that same ad is.

“It’s not the right metric,” said comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni of the click in the same article. “It’s a really short-term view of how advertising works as a direct-response-oriented vehicle and not a branding-oriented one.”

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