All clicks are NOT created equal

I thought I’d come out and say it clearly. Some clicks actually matter, some really mean something – they are not all from the same window shoppers who act on impulse alone.

I have written a few times on the non-value on online advertising clicks as a measure of success, how clicks and clickthroughs really don’t mean anything or tell us anything useful so I won’t rehash all of it again.

I do however need and want to clarify my thought on this a little more.

All I’ve written in the past bashing the almighty click has pertained strictly to online display advertising. Clicks really don’t mean much as a metric when you’re trying to gage performance of banners, skyscrapers, big boxes, pre-roll video and any other manner of display advertising. Display advertising really performs much more like most other traditional media in the sense that it makes an impression on the user, if he / she is in the market or possibly considering a purchase of some type. They might notice your ad, take note of it, pay attention to it, but they won’t click on it simply because they can. They might not yet be good and ready to act on their intent to buy, or maybe they are simply doing something else more important to them like reading the news or intent on watching an interesting online video. Rest assured that, like all other traditional media really work, users exposed to your ad will eventually visit your website or store when the timing is appropriate, when they’re further along their decision making process or maybe when they are with their spouse – to get more information on you and your product / service.

When I say all clicks are not created equal, I mean that there are some platforms, some environments where clicks actually mean something, where that’s what people go there to do!

These environments of course include search engines. As we all know search engine marketing is bought on pay per click pricing – you cannot buy a campaign on Google by paying a CPM rate of any kind, or a flat fee for that matter.

These environments also include classified ads websites and directories. People visiting these sites do so in a similar frame of mind as when they visit a search engine; they seeking something specific. The content they will sift through to find what they want on classifieds websites and online directories is actually the disguised advertising a company paid to have placed in the relevant section. People go here to click on that one thing, or one of the few things, that matches their search parameters. This can include display advertising on classifieds – you won’t find much display advertising on online directories.

Other environments where clicks mean something more worthwhile can include display advertising on service websites if that advertising is in-line / relevant to that website’s primary service.  Service websites are sites we don’t visit to get our daily update of news or any other type of content. They are similar to classifieds and directory sites in the sense that they answer a request users may have at that moment – they answer punctual searches. These include weather, recipe and most travel websites. We don’t, for the most part, visit these sites on a daily or even regular basis. We do visit them when the need arises. They are usually in and out visits – we look for something, find it and leave. Here when the advertising is in line with what the website offers, like a brand of noodles on a recipe website, it becomes content and allows us to continue our quest to make something original for dinner that night.

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