In a recently released update to its earlier study called "Natural Born Clickers," the web traffic research firm comScore presents an eye-popping indictment of online display ad click-throughs.
Using click-through rates as an advertising performance metric has frustrated B2B publishers for years. B2B audiences tend to be small by online standards. This, of course, is by design, since B2B publishers present highly specialized content targeted at specific, high-value audiences. Inherently, then, B2B publishers will never look that impressive when measured by click-through rates, but advertisers and their agencies want to see big results from their advertising investment. And why the focus on click-through rates as a performance metric? In the candid words of one agency professional, because "clicks are easy to understand and easy to measure."
Keeping in mind that this comScore study is B2C research, one key finding speaks volumes: only 8% of Internet users account for 85% of all click-throughs. And who are these heavy clickers? It's a generally younger and less affluent crowd, suggesting that the clicks-throughs that advertisers covet may not even represent good prospects.
Most significantly, comScore was able to document that online display advertising provides concrete branding value. Site visitors who see a display ad impression are demonstrably more likely to visit the advertisers' website and search on an advertisers' trademarks within a month of being exposed to an online display ad from the advertiser.
That's why there is a growing movement out there to shift measurement from "click-through" to "view-through." In English, "view-through" roughly translates to "ad impressions." Yes, it's been a long, rough, painful ride, but it does seem we've come full circle: display advertising against a targeted, engaged audience delivers real value to advertisers. Who knew?