Sunday, February 17, 2008

Who clicks through? Few. Do you?

No, this isn't another Seuss post. This one's about a new study claiming that a small minority of web users account for the vast majority of ad clicks. As The ClickZ Network reports:

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.

With this in mind, you might be tempted to try to learn more about those heavy clickers and how to reach them. Well, not so fast, Sparky:

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.
What's to be learned from this research? Well, it's a great reminder that ads on the web are still a work in progess. We know the answer's not interruption. And we know that we're just beginning to understand the possibilities. But maybe what we're really discovering is that the web presents many of the same challenges as traditional media. Just like impressions are meaningless if viewers aren't engaged, not all click-throughs are created equal. Instead of just measuring the number of hits you get, then, be sure to measure whether those hits translate into increased sales.

Photo: morgueFile

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