Non-Click Data Redux

It’s been two weeks since my column on “Tracking Non-Click Conversions” broke on ClickZ, and the mail is still rolling in.

To date, the vast majority of the responses to that column have contained the phrase, “Hespos should be keel-hauled for failing to reveal which companies are capable of tracking things this way,” or something to that effect.

Then email started pouring in from the ad management companies. They all wanted to ask me, “Hey, why didn’t you mention us? We’ve had that capability since the beginning of recorded time.”

Then, even more email came in from the online marketers who claimed their in-house systems “have been tracking this type of data since early 1986,” etcetera, etcetera. This is exactly what I wanted to avoid.

If I’m going to admit to making a boo-boo, it’s going to happen on a day like today – Thanksgiving – when the vast majority of the ClickZ audience in the United States will be hanging out with their families and watching football instead of reading their ClickZ newsletters. ;-)

Yes, I honestly believe that I did everyone a disservice by failing to mention some examples of companies that can track this data. And yes, I should be flogged with an extra-stiff length of fiber optic cable for my shortcomings. However, let me say in my defense that I had two very good reasons for not wanting to discuss the availability of the technology:

  1. I was afraid that I would overlook somebody who legitimately had the capability and that this ad management company would flame me until I was crispier than my Aunt Dudley’s Thanksgiving turkey.

  2. I wanted to make the point that there was a technology out there that might be able to save banner advertising, and I wanted to make that point rather than drone on about cookies, database management and all that silly stuff.

I’d still like to write a couple more paragraphs on how one might use this kind of data to one’s advantage. Before I do, I’d like to point out that if you’re dying to know who offers what in the ad management department, you should cruise by the ClickZ site and sign up for the ClickZ Forum. The “Non-Click Conversion” column turned into a thread on the Forum, and we discussed ad management until we were blue in the face. I swear.

That said, let’s talk turkey (snicker) about the applications of non-click conversion data.

I think one of the most significant changes that non-click conversion data brings to the table is the fact that online direct response campaigns can now be freed of the notion that banner ads are no good if they don’t produce both an immediate click and an immediate conversion.

Planning DR campaigns with GIF banners has been nothing short of painful over the past nine months. Online marketers have been torturing themselves in order to find ways to stave off declining click rates.

What many lost sight of is the fact that web surfers typically don’t cruise the web looking specifically for banner ads (much less with their credit card in hand). All those banners that didn’t produce immediate clicks and sales probably did your campaign a whole lot of good. Now, everyone will be able to at least get an idea of how much those non-click impressions helped their campaigns.

Branding and awareness campaigns will also likely get a boost from non-click data. Right now, I’m dreaming of lovely 3-D graphs showing a strong, positive correlation between lifetime customer value and the frequency of exposure to online ads. And I’m also thinking that such a graph might have rescued my butt during several weekly client status meetings, but I digress…

This capability is really going to shake up the industry. I can think of several online advertisers who are probably going to experience shifts in strategy because of the availability of this data and the education they’ll get from it.

Think about it – DoubleClick is going to have to redo its banner frequency test. You know – the one where it shows the dropoff in response rates after the 3rd or 4th exposure. I wonder what the response data looks like after you factor in the non-click responses…

Thanks for tuning in and taking the time to read this when you really should be watching the football game. If you’ve got a couple minutes (during halftime, after the pumpkin pie course, etc.), think about how this data can be leveraged to help your clients. Just try not to think about how complicated it will make the spreadsheets look – not, at least, until Monday morning.

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