Clicks are Dead, Let Them Go Before it’s Too Late

Clicks are…well, clicks are dead. At least, they should be when it comes to shaping your campaign goals. If you’re keeping them on life support, it’s time to pull the plug…

…for display and video ads.

A matter of technical convenience

Together with impressions, clicks are used to determine a campaign’s click-through rate (CTR). The CTR is a staple of measuring campaign performance. At first glance, the logic seems clean enough:

  1. A person will only click on an ad if it is relevant and he is interested in the offer
  2. By demonstrating his interest via click, the likelihood is high that he will convert
  3. Therefore, we can infer that CTRs and conversions are directly related.

Simply put, the logic is not clean. It is drawn from a conversion path that has a scope which is too narrow. The reason is that the CTR is based on technical convenience rather than consumer behavior.

For example, how often have you interrupted what you intended to do and clicked on an ad? If you have, I’ll wager that you can probably count the times on one hand. Those who have are part of an infinitesimally small group:

videos, the format with the highest average CTR, is below 2% and display…below 1%.

 Let’s count the ways

The fact is that consumers just don’t click on ads…they just don’t. Let’s look at a few common examples of the endless number of ways this happens.

They may see the ad, finish what they were doing, visit the page via direct URL or search, and complete the desired outcome. These individuals negatively impact a campaign’s CTR because they don’t enter the page through the ad.

Or, what about products with longer sales cycles, such as personal electronics? They may see the ad, finish what they were doing, gather some additional info, visit the page and complete the desired outcome the following week. Again, the campaign’s effect can’t be measured by its CTR because they don’t act immediately.

 But, didn’t you talk about average CTRs?

Fair point, and here’s why they don’t matter. How do you know that it wasn’t a bot click or that they clicked out of interest? You’re right, you don’t.

They may be in-app playing a game, see a slide-in banner that is obstructing a click-point, attempt to hit the tiny “X” and accidentally hit the ad. Now, you have an artificially inflated CTR.

Or, they are served a 30 second, non-skippable video ad and click the CTA to “skip” it. The result of these frustration clicks is the same as above, an artificially inflated CTR that skews your campaign audit.

 Unless the “R” in ROI is clicks, CTR is not tied to ROI

CTRs may be technically convenient, they may be easily communicated, they may even provide decision makers the illusion of ROI. But, only when it comes to clicks. When you use CTR as a measure of ROI for any other variable, your logic needs to be able to “leap tall buildings in a single bound.

If a low CTR truly indicated that a campaign failed to produce positive ROI, advertisers and marketing departments couldn’t justify the billions of dollars that are poured into online display, interstitial, and video advertising.

It’s simple, campaigns are vehicles to reach one goal, drive business. If you don’t go beyond clicks and base your campaign goals on consumer behavior, you will likely divert your spend from a campaign that was actually producing a high conversion rate…just pull the plug already.

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