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I think MediaPost got this one wrong

Interesting article at MediaPost talking about how click-through rates are dropping. I respectfully disagree though with the thought that we should all move away from click-through as a measurement and go to the “reach and frequency” metrics used by traditional advertising. Say what????

When I started in this business (internet marketing) 15 years ago, what I heard over and over again was how great it was that you can measure EXACTLY what happens with your ads online, not just that someone “saw” the ad. This still holds true. My customers know everything about their ads: when, where, how often it appeared and how often it was clicked as well as what happened when the “clicker” got to their website. Then we layer on top of that how much that click cost and how much we spent in total and we have a very clear picture of how much it cost to get that customer there. Not just some abstract notion of “someone saw the ad and that’s valuable branding”.

Don’t get me wrong, branding is great and we do try to dominate the top of the page with natural search and PPC for exactly that reason. BUT, it’s all measurable and that’s the point to be made for online advertising. We’re not just trying to get clicks… we’re trying to get targeted, relevant clicks… clicks that actually convert.

I’d love to focus on impressions as a metric. I can buy tons of those and never get a click, but hey… I got lots of eyeballs on my ad. It’s easier not to have to prove your work actually produced results (read sales or leads or whatever the customer needs) but that’s not the big promise of the web. The big promise is measureability and a demonstrable ROI.

So, don’t let some big agency tell you that you shouldn’t focus on click-throughs and most importantly, what comes after the click. Don’t let them take you back to a time when they waved their hands in front of your face and told you to “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!” Insist on real, measureable results and your bottom line will thank you!

As to the falling click-through rates… I would say to my fellow marketers, if click-through rates are falling, then lets look at the ads, the placement, the keywords that we choose, fixing the landing pages, etc. This is “new media” we’re working in, we have to invent it as we go along and keep remaking it. Throwing up our hands and reverting to old media metrics isn’t going to stop progress, it just makes us look bad.

And while I’m at it, the search engines aren’t off the hook either. They need to look at WHY people aren’t clicking anymore. Is it placement of the ads, the brevity of the ads, do they need to ad small graphics? They have more data than all of us and have a far bigger stake in getting it right, so where are they in all this?

My final thought is that I’m doing this for my customers and they deserve my best effort. Isn’t that what we hope every marketer and every publisher is doing too?

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