Heavy-Duty Ad Clickers Could Misguide Marketers

  |  February 13, 2008   |  Comments

With 16 percent of Internet users clicking on 80 percent of ads, a study suggests performance-based ad campaigns should look beyond the click.

A study shows a disconnect between the number of clicks on ads, and the number of people behind the clicks. As a result, advertisers and marketers are advised to find ways other than clicks to optimize performance-based campaigns.

The report, "Natural Born Clickers," commissioned by Starcom and AOL's Tacoda and conducted by comScore, finds 16 percent of Internet users click on 80 percent of ads, and those people aren't representative of the general online population.

"Close to 70 percent of the online universe doesn't click at all," said Greg Rogers, VP of sales strategy at Tacoda.

Heavy clickers, classified as someone who clicks on an ad four or more times in a month, comprise six percent of the online population and 50 percent of the clicks. Moderate clickers, Internet users who click ads two to three times per month, account for 10 percent of the online population and the additional 30 percent of clicks.

Results from branding campaigns could be miscalculated based on these findings. "If they're optimizing on clicks they need to take a bigger picture view than just that," said Erin Hunter, EVP at comScore. "The media community, marketers, and advertisers need to go beyond the click, their media, buying, and evaluating. They are reluctant to go past it and they need to go past the click in their buying and their planning."

Instead of focusing on the click, the alternative is to target audiences. Rogers, whose company specializes in behavioral marketing, said media buyers have to balance metrics with how targeted the media is.

The research identifies the demographics behind the heavy clicker. They are somewhat equally divided between male and female and between the ages 25 to 44. The typical household income for heavy clickers is below $40,000. Online, heavy clickers are also more likely to visit auctions, gambling, and career services sites.

"Heavy clickers spent five times more time online than a non-clicker, which to me is astounding," said Rogers. "Think about how much time we spent online and multiply that by five, and think about the amount of pages we consume, and multiply that by eight."

Rogers suggested heavy clickers respond to ads more often because they're exposed to more ads. While this group sometimes buys in response to advertising, he questions the long-term value for marketers.

Heavy clickers may also skew e-commerce statistics. "Because they are online, e-commerce becomes the channel of choice. The rest of us, we go to a brick and mortar store. That's where marketers are mislead," said Rogers.

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Enid Burns

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