Why Clicks Don’t Equal Brand Engagement

May 5, 2016 — by Parker Noren    

Our own Parker Noren, Director of Programmatic Strategy and Optimization at MediaMath, takes on brand engagement in a recent article published by Modern Marketing Xchange. Noren suggests it’s time to rethink how advertisers measure their branding efforts — focusing on users’ time on site or the number of pages viewed rather than solely measuring click-through rates. 

Read an excerpt below to learn why it’s time marketers should nix the click:

Advertisers have historically depended on click-through rates and cost-per-click to determine the success of their digital branding efforts. However, these metrics have little relationship with what the brand is ultimately trying to achieve. You won’t find driving clicks in a brand’s strategic roadmap or brand health assessment. It’s time for branding marketers to move beyond the click and onto more accurate measures that align with their overall campaign goals and, in turn, improve brand engagement by optimizing to them.

Let’s first back up. In the past, the focus on clicks was largely due to a lack of alternative metrics. In a 2001 New York Times article, then president of the Interactive Advertising Bureau Robin Webster said that the click-through might have appealed to the early technologists who built the World Wide Web, who were excited at the potential of tying advertising to a direct sale, something previously difficult with TV and print advertising. In addition, Procter & Gamble were basing payments for its online advertising on click-through, setting a benchmark for the wider industry. At the time, there were not an established group of better measurements, though their conception was in development.

The industry has now evolved and added new metrics to the mix. But, just because there are more options now isn’t a strong argument alone to move on from clicks. So, why should marketers nix the click?

According to a comScore analysis, only 8 percent of users actually contribute to the majority of clicks (85 percent). To get to 100 percent of clicks, you only have to expand to 16 percent of users—meaning 84 percent never click. Likewise, in a 2015 MediaMath analysis, only 8 percent of e-commerce purchasers had clicked on a banner ad from any campaign run in the platform (i.e., not just the campaign from which they bought the product). This means advertisers focused solely on optimizing clicks are essentially ignoring the majority of their core audience. And, while mobile specifically garners stronger click-through rates, we all have experienced how easy it is to accidentally click on mobile ads, adding even more scrutiny to clicks as a metric of success.

In addition, click-based metrics are more susceptible to fraud. Over time, fraud perpetrators have become better at making clicking bots look like humans. Measuring success along metrics that are harder for bots to fake is a key step to mitigating fraud, though many advertisers are hesitant to pursue given it can result in lower CTRs and higher CPCs because it strips away the inflated numbers born from bots.

To read the full article via Modern Marketing Xchange, click here.