• Ariel Gelfman, Principal Research Analyst at MediaMind, recently said that “Measuring brand effectiveness with clicks reminds me of so many other well-known fallacies: Home prices will always continue to skyrocket, nuclear energy is relatively safe, and one can quit smoking in a day.”

      He’s right – a click on its own means nothing. Unless there is some engagement to follow, then the click has little value.

      Now this may seem to fly in the face of current digital thinking – after all many digital campaigns are focused purely on getting a target number of clicks. Even worse, many are paid for on that metric, but the realities are that the measurement of success by click is as daft as the measurement of PR value by AVE.

      We’re seeing the same thinking taking root in social media – “Get me 100,000 Facebook ‘likes’ is a common cry, but according to Peter Jackson, Business Strategist at the 77 Agency, this too is a false metric. “ It’s easy to get 100,000 likes, the challenge is to get 100,000 of the people the brand would like.”

      Because so many advertisers are convinced that clicks are a good measure of online branding, creativity, and successful campaigns, are stifled. Too much emphasis goes into the generation of clicks/likes, and not enough into the experience enjoyed by the users when they get there.

      Brian Solis of the Altimeter group showed a very interesting presentation at the SMiCS summit in Monte Carlo contrasting the publicity put out by a large US airline. He ads show a caring stewardess, smiling captain and so on.

      By contrast, the word cloud of sentiment about that particular airline showed words like ”unreliable’, ‘late,’ ’uncaring.’

      Most unsettling for the company concerned was the discovery that the most prominent word blaring out from the stack was ‘Crap.’

      A disconnect between the glitz of marketing and the reality of the product or service is not new, but if marketers are to get the best out of their marketing spend, especially online, they need to lift their eyes from the click/like metrics, and focus on the engagement.

      comScore has recently published a very interesting whitepaper -“How Online Advertising Works: Whither The Click?” . This shows that the primary effect of online ads is just the same as any other broadcast medium – it just creates exposure for the brand. The act of clicking through cannot be seen as a measurement of the impact or effectiveness of the ad.

      They also came up with some very interesting statistics and point out that two-thirds of internet users do not click on display ads. They also show found that just one sixth of internet users account for 80 percent of all clicks.

      There is also a marked age split – clickers tend to be young, often below 18, and almost always less affluent than the non-clickers who predominantly make up the advertisers’ target market.

      By contrast to the apparent disconnect, the Comscore research also shows that display advertising does have a notable effect on user behaviour. The research, which covered 139 campaigns, showed a general increase in web traffic across the advertisers’ sites of around

      We’ve also come across some research by MediaMind, Microsoft Advertising, and comScore, which confirms that good engagement positively influences brand metrics.

      Dwell time is a key metric in these studies, and, perhaps unsurprisingly, they show that a good experience on the website makes them stick around longer and increase their interest in finding out more – by well over a third.

      So despite the hype, and the easy numbers, once again the message is that marketing isn’t a numbers game – it’s all about creativity, relevance, and that old chestnut – customer appeal.

      What a shame they don’t teach that in college.