Natural Born Clickers

Did you catch the research piece published a couple weeks ago about the behavior / demos of folks that click on display advertising?  You can read the whole thing here, but for the sake of getting to the point:

“6% of the online population account for 50% of all display ad clicks”

“heavy clickers skew towards Internet users between the ages of 25-44 and households with an income under $40,000”

“more likely to visit auctions, gambling, and career services sites”

The incredible conclusion the purveyors of this Research for Press Release come to is this: you should still buy display advertising, just don’t measure the value of it using clicks, because “the branding effect of the ads is what’s really important.”

Wow.  So, the first thing I want to know is this: where were these ads running?  Because where they run has everything to do with the demos; the sites create the demos, not the ads.  Did they run on NetZero, for example?  Any other free to almost free access systems?  Because if the audience won’t pay for the service, you get the audience quality you deserve.

Another thing that would be really interesting to know is the demos of folks who click on PPC ads  Want to bet more upscale, higher income, older?  Again, it’s not “clicking” that is the issue here, it’s how the ads are delivered; the network creates the audience.

If the above data is without network bias, my guess is this: the 6% of people that generate 50% of display ad click are people that are bored because they have no jobs.  And those people click on ads because they have nothing better to do.  They’re “surfing” the way the web worked pre- decent search engines, when you found out about other sites by clicking on ads.  An ad meant there was a site somewhere other than where you were!

Now, most folks that have any kind of intent at all use a search engine.

That brings us here: if the majority of clicks on display ads are generated by people who are jobless and bored, then is there any real Branding effect worth talking about from display ads?

In other words, what if the entire audience for display ads is younger and low income, just because of the stupid, untargeted nature of the format / distribution. Some of this audience clicks a lot, because they’re bored and have nothing else to do.

The desirable audiences are off using a search engine, because they have purpose and intent.

So if you run a gambling or a job site, it makes a lot of sense to do “Branding” with display ads.  Likewise, debt-related. comes to mind, the banners with those idiotic dancing women to get your attention.  Here kid, click this.

But if you sell Expensive Vodka?  Luxury Cars  High End Toys?  Electronics?  Do the targets for those products even see banner ads unless the site is super-targeted

What if display ads are only seen / paid attention to by “aimless surfers with no purpose”.  Gee, that’s an audience I really want to create a Brand impression for – regardless if they click the damn thing.  In other words, what if the Natural Born Clicker (NBC) demo is not just of a segment, but of display as a whole?

Otherwise, why didn’t they give the demos of the non-NBC clicks or exposures?  Instead, they compare to “total U.S. online population”.  That’s a Research for Press Release slight-of-hand trick. What we need to know are the demos of the “light clickers” and the demos of the “exposed” – people who saw / remember display ads.  Not the entire online population.

Unless, of course – gasp – these demos are the same as the NBC folks.

Most people are too busy to pay any attention to irrelevant display ads in the first place.  They use search and completely ignore the side bars where display ads run on a site. 

Active, lean forward, get it done folks focus on the content.

Kinda makes you wonder…

Your thoughts?

4 thoughts on “Natural Born Clickers

  1. it makes me wonder if there is a market for unclickable display ads if branding is how you measure success. It sounds weird saying it out loud, but it could be viable.

  2. Brett, if you’re being sarcastic, I’m with you.

    If you’re making a comment on the sad state of marketing accountability, I’m also with you. Some online media folks will buy anything!

    Otherwise, I’m not sure why you would remove the potential for a click, since some people would certainly want more information beyond what you could put in an ad…

    Another way to say this is (personally) I don’t think Branding on the web happens at the ad level, it happens at the site.

  3. This conversation has been long in coming, and I’m glad we’re getting some data on the value of disruptive ads online – they just don’t work due to the nature of net, it’s too big.

    Seth Godin says this all the time, the net is a terrible branding medium… in fact it’s the worst possible medium for branding because the consumer is in control and disruptive messaging is irrelevant to someone who has a established purpose.

    That, I think, is the message here – if you want to hit a demo sans purpose disruptive adverts are the vehicle of choice. :) Otherwise, do your homework, find niche sites that are of value to your audience, and offer those people something creative/interesting/valuable, rather than just sticking your corporate logo in a banner.

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