May 29, 2012

Good Cholesterol And Advertising

For decades, people with high cholesterol levels have been urged to change their eating and exercise habits, and to take certain medications.

One of the goals of the treatment has been to raise the level of HDL -- good cholesterol.

You see, good cholesterol is kind of like Liquid Plumr. It comes along and cleans out the bad cholesterol that clogs up the pipes. This makes you healthier and at lower risk of heart disease.

Except it doesn't.

After decades of yelling at people to raise their levels of "good cholesterol" researchers have changed their minds. Now they claim "good cholesterol" -- as we used to say in Brooklyn -- don't do shit.

According to The New York Times...
...a new study that makes use of powerful databases of genetic information has found that raising HDL levels may not make any difference to heart disease risk. People who inherit genes that give them naturally higher HDL levels throughout life have no less heart disease than those who inherit genes that give them slightly lower levels.
Dr. Michael Lauer, director of the division of cardiovascular sciences at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, agreed. “The current study tells us that when it comes to HDL we should seriously consider going back to the drawing board..."
So here's something to think about. Some marketing researchers and digi-gurus have been trying to convince us that their esoteric measurements of consumer online behavior correlate with ad effectiveness.

They are trying to sell us on the idea that the power of display advertising is not in its ability to generate clicks, but on crackpot measurements like "dwelling" and "lingering" and "mouse hovering." It's all very fascinating to people who were blown away by freshman psychology.

If it's taken real scientists with real test tubes and real peer review decades to figure out that HDL don't do shit, do you really think these marketing meatballs with their "mouse hovering" know anything about the effectiveness of display ads?

Please, don't make me laugh.


AdContrarian said...

Here you go:

Paul Benjou said...

Model 1: Display is primarily driven by hard costs (CPMs) and is not performance based.  Whether you see an ad (long shot) or not ... you're client pays for its delivery.   So CTRs do count.
Model 2: Search, on the other hand is PPC so if you do see an ad but don't click ... your client pays nothing.
Simple, huh.  Now let's add the obfuscation delivered by the digeratti and statistics that come from rectal extrusions and all is good(?). 
No thanks. I'll take 2 and count my clicks.

Geoff said...

I don't totally disagree with your conclusion, but there's got to be a certain irony in your use of such a whopper of a false equivalency in your logic argument.  Just because scientists  struggle with thing A doesn't mean thing B is - or isn't - also complicated. There's no logical connection.

And, at the risk of being lumped in with asshole Flash developers, I think you're also missing another point:

What's wrong with struggling to develop metrics? Of course the only one that matters is product sales. But to get there, don't we need some way of measuring effectiveness ? If this type of metric is being used to fine-tune a campaign, I think it's potentially great.

I bet you've used metrics for your radio campaigns that even worse.

Now that I've criticized, I need to add: you remain one of the only ad blogs worth reading, and one of the only that makes me think (and argue).  Cheers!

Dan said...

Hi there. Long time reader (believer), first time commenter.

I may have missed the point, btu what I got from this blog post is this: Advertising is not science. It is not A science. It is not LIKE science. It is not science.

To me, advertising is more like economics. My feeling is that everyone has an opinion about it, but very few (if anybody) really understands it or can predict it with meaningful accuracy (read: knows anything about it).

Maybe there is simply Nothing scientific about it.

Now, that said, I am just a computer programmer, though one that has recently gone in with/on a text-message marketing business. Essentially, we are competing in the ad/marketing space and I have to say, even with statistics and metrics and bullshit, we're still having a hard time convincing anyone that our product is useful. I can't imagine attempting the sales pitch with something like "well, we Could give you some numbers but they are all meaningless. In fact, we have no idea what will or won't be effective. Any ad you put out there or marketing you do is a gamble. But still, try our service!"

At the end of the day we need to make money, right? I feel caught between a rock and a hard place because it seems like on the one hand, the sales pitches are almost completely BS, but on the other hand, BS appears to be the primary currency of the industry.

Mark said...

 Off topic:,28356/

Looks like Bob is doing side work for the Onion.

Dave said...

A typical SEM response! This conversation isn't about the merits of display versus search and in any case, your argument is inherently flawed. 

Firstly, you seem to be getting your TLA's mixed up; CPC's are different to CTR's - they're not solely a direct function of them - and counting clicks is different to watching the CTR, by your own argument you've basically agreed that CTR is not the core metric to monitor.

Secondly, anyone can buy display ads on a CPC or a CPA if they like, heck, the technology even exists to buy on a CPM and then  ensure those ads are only served in areas that hit your target CPA. Simple, huh. 

The argument is that as with all activity, we should be using metrics that allow us to understand whether or not our advertising has achieved what it set out to achieve: sales. Surely search or display advertising should be measured against things likes sales, revenue, ROI? All of these metrics are available and should be used.

Don't get me wrong, from a *creative* efficiency and effectiveness point of view, CTR has a role but it's influenced by so many other factors and is hardly the strongest TLA to base a campaign's success or failure on.

You keep counting your clicks (which are probably 90% brand terms anyway) and I'll keep counting my sales.

Dave said...

Thanks. I see your point. It makes sense. I just think that we spend too much time focusing on the wrong click. In a world where we can measure everything from initial click through to sales and revenue, shouldn't we focus on the click that occurs when someone submits an order rather than when someone clicks an ad?

L Pio Borges said...

Once, I've asked a famous surgeon about people with high and people with low blood preasure. This should be a natural , as it is natural that some people have big noses and others small noses.
I've asked it I was right. He said I was right but the only diference was the death rate that was gained by a large margin by the high blood preasure group.
Perhaps something like that is also true for collesterol.
Please clarify