Staff Writer
Oct 10, 2017

Killing the click, Part 2: Why the click is the wrong measurement for evaluating branding campaigns

Although the notorious click-through rate is likely the simplest campaign metric to report, its utility is questionable at best.

Killing the click, Part 2: Why the click is the wrong measurement for evaluating branding campaigns
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‘Clicker’ Clicks

In the previous piece on misleading campaign metrics, we narrowed our focus in on fraudulent clicks, and accidental clicks. Now, we change direction and look at what the industry refers to as ‘clickers’. 

Have you heard of the 80/20 rule? In the case of digital advertising and the observation of clicks, it is safe to say that this rule could apply.  Over a three-month observation of SEA campaigns within Xaxis, it was observed that 13 percent of users generated nearly 50 percent of all clicks, while the remaining 87 percent of users generated the other 50 percent. Taking this a step further, it was witnessed that the 13 percent of users that are considered heavy clickers only generated 9.8 percent of all conversions, while the light clickers accounted for more than 90 percent of conversions. 

This means that regardless of being a performance or branding advertiser, a click does not correlate to interest or intent to purchase. By looking at 100 separate Xaxis performance campaigns across SEA we compared the CTR and conversion rates. This comparison yielded a 0.014 correlation coefficient, demonstrating an absolute lack of relationship between a click and conversion.

Who are these clickers? This depends on your market and the industry, but it is well known in the online advertising industry that these groups do exist. These users have a higher propensity to click and they do not convert. Optimisers and strategists have known this for years and strategically target these groups when a CTR metric is being requested and measured by clients. Unfortunately, these clickers are not necessarily the target audience you are seeking for your brand.  

Take Singapore for example. Based on historical Xaxis data we know that most clicks in Singapore come from males aged 18-24. Based on our previous study, let’s assume that 50 percent of these clicks came from this group. With that in mind, the conflict arises when an advertiser wants to target women aged 25-40 but is using CTR as their core KPI. This means an optimiser will sacrifice the in-target reach to assure they reach the CTR goal by targeting the higher CTR profiles in the market.

In this case, by being asked to reach a CTR goal we are inadvertently avoiding the target audience the brand is positioned for.  This practice is neither meant to be dishonest nor to mislead a client, but is rather a function of the pressure of reaching a set CTR goal for branding campaigns. 

Additionally, through our proprietary data management platform, [m]Insights, we can look at the interests and demographic characteristics of users who organically arrive on an advertiser’s site. This organic traffic forms the bulk of any website’s visitors and our aim is to drive additional users who are like the organic traffic to visit all levels of the advertiser’s site. Interestingly, when we compared the characteristics of the organic users vs. the clickers, we revealed several interest groups that did not index highly on the advertiser’s organic traffic, but drove very high click-through rate performance. 

One such example is with a luxury property client in the Philippines. The organic traffic for the client’s website showed users interested in entrepreneurship, apartments, luxury, financial services, and stocks, as well as users who were part of segments like C-suites, board and ownership professionals, financial industry professionals, in the age ranges of 35-44 and 45-54.

Considering users reached through the display campaign, the clickers that drove the highest click-through rates were those with interests in advertising, graduate school, shopping, beginner investing and travel. The mismatch between these two groups of users clearly highlights the importance of focusing on audience delivery rather than clickers.

Campaigns set up to optimise towards clicks can achieve and even exceed their KPIs through broad untargeted delivery or even delivery towards unrelated audiences. However, to drive awareness or action amongst the desired audience, it is important to ensure that specific targeting is applied and user interests, behaviour, demographics and other characteristics all align towards the right audience. 

Fundamentally, this means that we need to be fully aware of what and who is behind the click, and its lack of value for both performance and branding campaigns. With organizations manufacturing clicks, siphoning money from ad dollars, ad units and sites being built to urge users to click accidentally, and with historical data demonstrating that most clicks come from a small group of users, we must face the fact that chasing the click is not advantageous for your brand or your marketing budget.

Changing the game

It is time to put an end to the old habits and open our minds to the complementary metrics that will begin to uncover the true value and effectiveness of a branding campaign.

To uncover this value, Xaxis has invested time and money into fostering partnerships with a multitude of third-party measurement bodies that allow us to look beyond the click, to account for the dynamics and synergy an advertising campaign provides. When running a branding campaign, it is essential that you target and reach the right audience. By measuring in target reach and verifying that we have reached your ideal user, we can verify that the right people have seen your product and branding message.

Additionally, as technology has advanced, we can observe and track how users interact with your ad placements. Whether it is rich media, video, or other creative executions, we can track all aspects of the interaction, which demonstrate effectiveness and interests far beyond a click. 

CTR is probably the easiest metric to report on, but is it truly telling the whole story? When Xaxis runs its campaigns with clients, we work together on creating the ideal measurement plan to accurately help clients understand where and how are they spending their ad dollars wisely and efficiently. So is the click dead? It should be.

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