That’s the sound of another consumer moving from the webpage they’re on to your page via a display ad they found in the sidebar. Hooray!
Unfortunately, these days, the sound of the click, click, click is less of a tap dance and more like the lazy snap of a pleased beatnik. ComScore says that the average click rate on a display ad is 0.1%. Compare that to the average click rate on a paid search ad campaign (3.5%) and it’s easy to see why the digital intelligence company is calling for an end to counting clicks.
Why the fascination with the click? I suspect one reason is that computing clicks on display ads is fast, cheap and easy. In a world where time and money are of the essence, these factors may well be sufficient for some to put aside concerns about the click’s relevance. If correct, that’s certainly not a positive commentary on the state of the online ad business.
Statistics show that search ads are better performers than display ads which makes sense since “search’ implies that the person is looking for an answer. When they find it, they’re going to click it. Stats also show that display ads are good for brand awareness. Even if I don’t click on that McDonalds ad, a Quarter-Pounder is likely to end up on my plate at lunch. Humans are highly suggestible creatures, especially when it comes to calorie laden treats!
So what happens if we stop counting clicks? My first thought is, how would you measure a campaign’s success? Then I think, maybe it doesn’t matter. Look at magazine ads and TV commercials. People don’t interact with either of those delivery methods and yet we have ways of determining the effectiveness of each.
These days, where all forms of media and communications are melding into one tablet-sized package, maybe it’s time to stop looking at clicks and start looking a the total picture. Because in the end, the only number that really matters is the one with the dollar sign in front of it.