It's an argument that, on the surface, has a great deal of logic to it, and is hard to dispute.
However, the argument hinges on the notion that online advertising really is substantially more interactive than traditional advertising. If it is not, then the argument falls apart.
The one factor that makes an online ad more interactive than say, a newspaper or magazine ad, is that it is hyperlinked to other, deeper material -- in other words, it is clickable.
It is in the click that the essence of interactivity resides. Without clickability, an online ad is no more "interactive" than a magazine ad.
Consequently, the argument for the power of online display advertising rests on the inclination of consumers to click. If consumers are not inclined to interact, we have no reason to believe an online ad has any more potency than a newspaper ad.
A recent study demonstrates the astounding disinclination of consumers to "interact" with online display ads.
You can find the study here. Here's a summary:
- The study "examined the advertising interactions of over 100 million anonymous user profiles and over one billion advertising impressions served in the first months of 2011."
- They "reviewed the action lift of 100 campaigns, and brand lift reported in 400 campaigns."
- They found "...a tiny fraction of people ever click on an ad. In fact, 99% of stable cookies examined never click on an ad. "
- "Nearly 20% of ads that received any click activity received multiple clicks within the same impression, suggesting that these clicks were unintentional.
- "An examination of who tended to click paints a picture of an audience that may not be attractive to most advertisers.
- They may be exactly the people you don't want. "Users who are economizing click 65% more often than users who purchase frequently online."
- Here's one you'll love. "...optimization of campaigns to achieve higher CTR may in fact be reducing brand ROI." In other words, the higher the level of "interactivity" the lower the ROI!
- "Conclusion: ...This study should serve to caution marketers, that relying on CTR means being comfortable targeting low income, older, technologically less sophisticated consumers and recognize that most of the click ‘leads’ will go nowhere, as they were generated by unintentional clicks or will not result in a post impression action nor brand."
The same type of revisionism that has polluted the "advertising is dead" crowd has now infected the "interactive advertising" crowd.
What once made them click, now makes them sick.
Thanks to Terry DeVoto and Sharon Krinsky for making me aware of this study.