Uncommon Sense: Love The Click

The War Against the Click is very much en vogue these days among the digerati.  Apparently, digital marketers can no longer sell statistical zero to increasingly wary (and weary) clients, and have embarked on a campaign to find a meaningful replacement metric -- defined as one that can still be sold to hapless clients.

The new metrics under consideration are softer and more engagement-focused, far less brutally honest than the click and therefore far easier to fudge on a billing statement. (Agencies love and will adopt any metric they can’t explain -- because the only way they can stay in business is to make otherwise simple things impossibly complex.)

The Mad Men worked in an industry where Buddy Ebsen as Jed Clampett spoke to 60 million people every week.  The men and women who run the same industry today may or may not be mad. but they’re clearly insane, consumed instead with more and more for fractions of fractions of fractions.

Hunting for a new metric is one thing.  But the smear campaign launched against the defenseless click in recent months borders on scandalous. It reveals the true character of a fickle and fragile digital marketing and advertising industry predicated on sheer expediency -- with little or nothing of value left to sell.

Of course, everyone worshipped the click when it hovered around 5%. The click ruled.  Everyone wanted, paid for and prayed for more clicks.  The demand for clicks even spawned a robust black market with offshore click farms and robots enlisted to produce illicit clicks by the tens of millions.  The entire industry lived and died by the click. We LOVE the click.

Suddenly, however, with the average click now below .1%, everyone turns away.  We’ve decided to shoot the messenger and ignore the message entirely -- in no small measure because the message is so appallingly brutal: No one outside the ad industry wants what the entire industry is in business to sell: the ads.  Suddenly, we HATE the click.

The mere fact that the once-worshipped click has fallen so far from grace among my digital colleagues is reason enough for me to embrace it  -- and declare it for what it is: the only meaningful measure of intent.

Unfortunately for advertisers, however, no one these days intends to click on any ads. But that doesn’t mean we should inveigh against the click. Rather, it means we should inveigh against the insipid idea of trying to sell and distribute a work product that no one wants and everyone is equipped to avoid.

It’s as if we woke up one morning and found ourselves suddenly in the Bizarro World of Advertising -- where everything is upside down and backwards.  Only in the Bizarro World of Advertising can we spend billions of dollars on systems and interfaces designed to attract and encourage the click that we now reject as meaningless.

The only reasonable way to interpret the Bizarro World of Advertising and restore sanity is to INVERT EVERYTHING.  Shift the currency from the ad (what no one wants and no one sees) to the content (what everyone wants and everyone sees).  Don’t put the ad in the content.  Put the content in the ad.  Don’t deliver the ad to the consumer.  Deliver the consumer to the ad.  INVERT EVERYTHING.

In other words, hate the model but LOVE the click.


5 comments about "Uncommon Sense: Love The Click".
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  1. Jaffer Ali from PulseTV, June 14, 2012 at 9:42 a.m.

    Jeff, as CTR have fallen, fraud has risen. So we have a double whammy conspiring against the metric. Of course the only way out is as you people what they want; content. It is too simple. Nassim Taleb had a simple way to measure "fragility". He did not receive accolades until he hired a team of mathematicians to complexify his formula. Maybe that is what you need...something to turn the simple idea into something incomprehensible.

  2. Jeff Einstein from The Brothers Einstein, June 14, 2012 at 10 a.m.

    No doubt, my friend. That's precisely how the agencies and intermediary technology players stay in business these days. No one will pay for KISS, but everyone pays for CHAOS.

  3. Marielle Hanke from Cloud Nine Media, June 14, 2012 at 11:53 a.m.

    I don't think it's the click per se people are against. Those .1% of people that click do so for a good reason. Instead of focusing on the click we should find out why the medium, display ads, only generates a click-trough-rate of 0.1% and not question the click itself. At Cloud Nine Media we generate a 54% CTR. Our format focuses on value-exchange and therefore users are more willing to engage. This is a strong signal for the future of display and the click.

  4. Ari Rosenberg from Performance Pricing Holdings, LLC, June 14, 2012 at 1:47 p.m.

    Jeff, when you post something on Facebook and your circle of friends see that post and click the "like" button, does that make you feel good?

    So tell me again why how a click has no impact :)

    Nice piece today -- spot on -- we used CTR when it worked for us and now we look like fools trying to bury it. It is one part of what we can deliver and last time I checked -- the folks at Google figured out how to make it work for them :)



  5. Joshua Dreller from Signal, July 6, 2012 at 11:28 a.m.

    Just about every other advertising medium doesn't have a click...does that mean it doesn't work?

    To me, the impression has value just as a billboard, a radio spot, a full page ad--it's just about figuring out how much value each impression is worth. There's no doubt that a click is valuable but I look at it as a bonus to what is a very addressable, highly efficient channel.

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