Home  › Marketing › Strategies

Escaping the Cult of Click-Through

  |  July 26, 1999   |  Comments

High click-through rates. Clients demand it, media planners live for it, media sites promise it, ad servers measure it. It is, more often than not, the standard by which online branding efforts are measured. But sophisticated online marketers are realizing that click-through as a measure of branding success can be completely misleading. Jeffrey Graham reveals new tools to prove the true value of Internet brand advertising. It's a combination of cookies and surveys to compare the degree of exposu

High click-through rates. Clients demand it, media planners live for it, media sites promise it, and ad servers measure it. It is, more often than not, the yardstick for our online branding efforts.

Of course, what is great about click-through is that it is quantifiable. It looks good on a spreadsheet. It can be tracked. Plans can be "optimized" based on it. But as more and more sophisticated online marketers are realizing, focusing on click-through as a measure of branding success can be completely misleading.

When all is said and done, it's easy to get clicks. Just offer free sex, a lifetime supply of beer, or a vacation to Mauritius. That'll get clicks. Or use a "tricky" banner that deludes people into thinking they can speed up their Internet connection (as one annoyingly ubiquitous ad does).

But no matter how many clicks you get, if your client's objective is to build its brand on the Internet, offering free sex probably is not a strategy. If your job is to build the right perceptions of a client's brand, click-through just isn't the right measure of success.

Of course, a compelling creative unit can be both a great branding unit as well as offer a strong call to action. Some of the best branding ads do get high click-through rates. And many online campaigns aren't meant to build brand, but rather to get registrations, new customers and sales. Click-through is a better metric for those types of campaigns (although measuring the end result, like registrations and sales, is even better). But when it comes to straight branding, measuring click-through falls short.

One of the most disheartening things about the cult of click-through is that it is hampering the growth of the online advertising industry. Some clients think that falling click-through rates mean declining effectiveness. And, as many of us know, trying to justify a multi-million dollar media investment based on the .5 percent of the target that is going to click is difficult, if not downright foolish.

Think about it, though. When you put an advertisement on the side of a bus, no one can click on it (yet). But advertisers have known for a long time that outdoor advertising is effective in increasing awareness and pushing brand values. There are even ways to measure the effects of this advertising.

Unfortunately for traditional advertisers, these methods are extremely costly and require pretty big leaps of faith. But online marketers are fortunate, because we can measure the effects of ad exposure, scientifically and quantitatively, regardless of clicks. Tools are available that can allow us to break away from the cult of click-through and prove to clients the true value of Internet brand advertising.

How do these tools work? Using a combination of cookies and surveys, we can compare the degree of exposure to certain elements of an advertising campaign against brand awareness and brand perception. We can compare Jane's attitude, (which we know has been exposed to three banners) with Jill's, whom we know hasn't been exposed at all.

New research technologies allow this type of brand tracking to happen in real time. With these new metrics, we can optimize based on the brand impact of specific elements of an online campaign. And we can isolate which ads work best against specific audiences for specific brand attributes.

Online advertising has a leg up on traditional advertising; it is more measurable. We just need to use metrics that show its true strength.

Next time: An exploration of the different ways we can measure branding effectiveness and a look at some case studies that have proven that online branding works.

ClickZ Live San Francisco Revolutionize your digital marketing campaigns at ClickZ Live San Francisco! (August 10-12) Educating marketers for over 15 years, we return to San Francisco this August with our action-packed, educationally-focused agenda that will cover every aspect of digital marketing. Early Bird rates available through Friday, July 17 - save up to $300! Register today.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jeffrey Graham

Jeffrey Graham is vice president of client development at Dynamic Logic, a company he joined in January of 2001. Dynamic Logic specializes in measuring the branding effectiveness of online marketing. Jeffrey has served as research director at two online advertising agencies, Blue Marble and NOVO, and has worked with clients such as General Motors, Procter & Gamble, and Continental Airlines. He has taught Internet Research at New York University and has a Masters degree in the subject.

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

Get the ClickZ Marketing newsletter delivered to you. Subscribe today!

COMMENTS

UPCOMING EVENTS

Featured White Papers

US Consumer Device Preference Report

US Consumer Device Preference Report
Traditionally desktops have shown to convert better than mobile devices however, 2015 might be a tipping point for mobile conversions! Download this report to find why mobile users are more important then ever.

E-Commerce Customer Lifecycle

E-Commerce Customer Lifecycle
Have you ever wondered what factors influence online spending or why shoppers abandon their cart? This data-rich infogram offers actionable insight into creating a more seamless online shopping experience across the multiple devices consumers are using.

WEBINARS

Jobs

  • Sr. Marketing Specialist, PPC
    Sr. Marketing Specialist, PPC (Charter Communications) - StamfordSr. Marketing Specialist, PPC– Digital Marketing Charter Communications...
  • Online Marketing Analyst
    Online Marketing Analyst (FULLBEAUTY Brands ) - New YorkINTRODUCTION: Are you interested in a unique career opportunity where you can represent...
  • Copy Editor
    Copy Editor (ClickZ / Search Engine Watch) - New YorkROLE OVERVIEW The role of the copy editor for ClickZ has many demands. Ultimately, the copy...