Crack isn’t just a waste of time. It’s bad for you too

There’s definitely no shortage of research showing the irrelevance of clicks as an indicator of online campaign value.  Our own experience shows it and Nielsen data proves it.  This probably has a lot to do with the fact that the folks doing the clicking are a small portion of population and demographically far from the top of most advertisers’ target lists.   None of this is news, yet there remains a surprising (shocking?) amount of attention paid to click-based “optimization” of campaigns.  Perhaps it’s the crack-like allure that Cory Treffiletti from Catalyst SF discusses in a fun piece from last fall.

For all the richly deserved bad press the click has gotten as a metric, I hadn’t seen anyone focus on the angle that chasing clicks actually works against driving the metrics that do matter (much like how chasing crack limited addicts’ success in other more meaningful pursuits…).  That was the point of Monday’s article by Lotame’s Eric Porres.  Lotame’s research across >100 campaigns shows that “not only do click-through rates fail to measure what marketers are really looking for, they’re often negatively related to brand lift.”  While I haven’t seen the research myself, it looks like it was done based on third-party data from Vizu and Dimestore – both reputable survey technologies.  The findings would also comport with previous research.

The bottom line is that there is no free lunch.  There are tradeoffs that must be made when planning & managing media.  “Optimizing” for a metric that doesn’t matter isn’t just a waste of everyone’s time, it actually degrades performance against the metrics that do matter.


About Andy Atherton
I am currently an SVP at AppNexus. I previously spent four years as COO and cofounder of Brand.net, a pioneer in programmatic reserve technology and leading digital media buying solution for top brands. Prior to Brand.net, I was Vice President of Pricing and Yield Management for Yahoo!, responsible for maximizing monetization of a global portfolio of display inventory worth $2B annually. Beginning in 2002, I created, developed and globalized Yahoo’s PYM function over a period of five years. Prior to Yahoo!, I was president and cofounder of Optivo, a venture-backed start-up that developed price optimization software for e-commerce retailers. More on LinkedIn...

4 Responses to Crack isn’t just a waste of time. It’s bad for you too

  1. Eric Porres says:

    Andy, thanks for your post. The complete whitepaper can be found here:

    http://www.lotame.com/resources/whitePapers

    Any questions, comments, concerns, or considerations, send ’em our way.

    Cheers,
    Eric Porres
    Chief Marketing Officer
    Lotame Solutions, Inc.

  2. Pingback: Old habits die hard « Brand.net

  3. Pingback: Yet more on CTR’s failure « Andy's Blog

  4. Pingback: An Inconvenient Truth « Andy's Blog

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