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Online display ads – an analysis

of clicks

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Some very interesting US data was released by comScore recently.  What the data shows is a steep fall in the number of people clicking on online display ads in the last two years from 32% to 16%.  That means that the number of people not clicking on online display ads is now 84%.  This behaviour links with a lot of consumer online activity that shows an increasingly sophisticated “normal” behaviour.  Many online marketing people forget that the majority of consumers have been online for over seven years and a large subset have been online over 10 years. Internet activity and browsing is like any software behaviour in that it changes over time and becomes increasingly sophisticated.  Software usability experts are trained in the difference between formative testing and summative testing.  Formative is early stage testing and is usually iterative in nature and built in to the design process.  Summative testing is what happens when a software product has been built and being examined in real-life usage.  People involved in this process will tell you that the way somebody uses software after they have been using it for eighteen months is markedly different to the way that they first used the product.  Thus it is with the Internet which is accessed via a software application we commonly call a browser.  Consumers with five years Internet experience behave very differently to people with ten or more years experience and this is the key reason underlying the metrics in this chart. Indeed you can see the process happening at a much earlier stage with mobile display advertising.  At the moment click rates are comparably high but as consumers develop more sophisticated mobile browsing behaviour the rates will only fall lower and lower. Having spent several thousand hours with consumers as they shop for products and services I’ve always been impressed by their ability to “blinker” anything not relevant to the activity they are involved with at any given moment.  I’ve frequently observed online display ads create as much negative equity as positive brand equity by being too obtrusive.  Yet online display advertising has grown to become a very sophisticated and large industry primarily driven by its low cost. The online display advertising industry will now have to mature beyond using clicks as a measure of success.  The click rates are now so low that however cheap the media it is a marginal marketing activity if justified by this measure.  The real issue is that eventually online display advertising has to be measured by brand awareness and not direct response.  Unfortunately this metric is very much more difficult to evaluate as it is a qualitative measure.  Something that marketing people find harder to sell internally within the organisation and justify the purchase in the first place.  It doesn’t help that at present the measurement of “brand awareness” is surround by several dubious methodologies. July 2009
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2009

Online display ads –

an analysis of clicks

Some very interesting US data was released by comScore recently.  What the data shows is a steep fall in the number of people clicking on online display ads in the last two years from 32% to 16%.  That means that the number of people not clicking on online display ads is now 84%.  This behaviour links with a lot of consumer online activity that shows an increasingly sophisticated “normal” behaviour.  Many online marketing people forget that the majority of consumers have been online for over seven years and a large subset have been online over 10 years. Internet activity and browsing is like any software behaviour in that it changes over time and becomes increasingly sophisticated.  Software usability experts are trained in the difference between formative testing and summative testing.  Formative is early stage testing and is usually iterative in nature and built in to the design process.  Summative testing is what happens when a software product has been built and being examined in real-life usage.  People involved in this process will tell you that the way somebody uses software after they have been using it for eighteen months is markedly different to the way that they first used the product.  Thus it is with the Internet which is accessed via a software application we commonly call a browser.  Consumers with five years Internet experience behave very differently to people with ten or more years experience and this is the key reason underlying the metrics in this chart. Indeed you can see the process happening at a much earlier stage with mobile display advertising.  At the moment click rates are comparably high but as consumers develop more sophisticated mobile browsing behaviour the rates will only fall lower and lower. Having spent several thousand hours with consumers as they shop for products and services I’ve always been impressed by their ability to “blinker” anything not relevant to the activity they are involved with at any given moment.  I’ve frequently observed online display ads create as much negative equity as positive brand equity by being too obtrusive.  Yet online display advertising has grown to become a very sophisticated and large industry primarily driven by its low cost. The online display advertising industry will now have to mature beyond using clicks as a measure of success.  The click rates are now so low that however cheap the media it is a marginal marketing activity if justified by this measure.  The real issue is that eventually online display advertising has to be measured by brand awareness and not direct response.  Unfortunately this metric is very much more difficult to evaluate as it is a qualitative measure.  Something that marketing people find harder to sell internally within the organisation and justify the purchase in the first place.  It doesn’t help that at present the measurement of “brand awareness” is surround by several dubious methodologies. July 2009
Click to return to page Click here to download the PowerPoint chart: Click here to download the PowerPoint chart: