Is the humble click dead? As the war against clickbait raged on, 2014 was the year in which the Click-Through-Rate (CTR) — as a viable, standalone metric — was all but cremated and scattered into the wind.
Yes, you heard right! Studies have confirmed all of your suspicions that CTR is an unreliable method of measuring campaign effectiveness. It was recently reported that an estimated $6 billion will be lost over the coming year to bot fraud, as wiley cyber-criminals work to exploit the steady rise of investment in online advertising.
So what options will 2015’s start-ups have open to them? How is the analytics game looking to improve over the course of the year?
The Rise and Fall of CTR
CTR has long been favoured by marketers as a simple measure of an advertising campaign’s online impact, but issues such as accidental clicks and bots posing as people have always brought its accuracy into disrepute.
As mobile device usage increases among every demographic, the smaller, touch-sensitive screens have driven an upsurge in accidental clicks that is fast rendering CTR irrelevant. At least on its own.
CTR is simply too limited and, as a measure of success, pales in comparison to brand awareness, engagement (as in social media), and conversions. In fact, CTR appears to be completely unrelated to other metrics such as calls, directions, and store visits. Furthermore, the same study suggests that optimizing for CTR may even reduce follow-up actions (Secondary-Action-Rate, or SAR).
Recent research from Google argues that almost 60% of online ad impressions go unnoticed, and with those that do making an almost immeasurable impact, does CTR still have a future?
This Year’s Metrics
The majority of consumer purchases still happen locally, but smartphones, tablets, and internet-on-the-go have still taken over the shopping experience. Consumers are increasingly choosing online reviews and information over what’s supplied in-store, even Instagramming products and deciding whether or not to buy based on their peers’ feedback.
Though it may be a headache for privacy advocates, metrics will be turning more location based over the coming year, as mobile devices allow for consumers’ offline shopping habits to be tracked.
Google and Facebook have both begun to supply advertisers with data relevant as to where their products are being discussed and purchased. Google can track user’s purchases and store visits within 30 days of ad-exposure, meaning that interest in a product can still be determined by click-throughs which don’t result in an immediate online sale.
Of course, this data is later extrapolated to provide more generalized information on the population at large, and Google takes pains to point out that at no point is an individual’s location provided to advertisers. Still, to some it may bear the whiff of sci-fi dystopianism!
On the positive side, mobile technology appears to be incorporating the high-street and local life, rather than just killing it off. Ultimately, the future of ad metrics looks to be in venturing offline, to calls and store-visits — to the way we’ve always shopped.
Author: Nick Rojas