Study Says the Unclicked-Upon Ad Has Value

OPA-comScore Study Says the Unclicked-Upon Ad Has Value

By Catharine P. Taylor | June 18th, 2009 @ 12:36 pm

 Online Publishers Association and Internet measurement firm comScore yesterday released the results of a comprehensive study which they say demonstrates that just the mere act of seeing an ad is valuable, in the hopes that it will make advertisers think twice before just counting clicks. Here are some of the things they discovered after observing 80 brands, across 200 sites, over a month’s time:
  • One in five people did a search on a brand advertised on one of these sites.
  • Those who saw the ads spent 50 percent more on the brands of sites they saw than those who had not.
  • That people who saw these ads spend 10 percent more online than others and spend even more on brands in the categories of ads that they saw.

It makes a kind of gut sense that exposure to an ad, even if the person who saw it doesn’t immediately act upon it, has more of an impact than never seeing the ad at all. One possible anecdotal example of this is Microsoft’s early success with Bing, for which the company launched one of the most ambitious online ad campaigns ever, in part using the OPA’s new super-sized ad units. Early data shows that Bing is claiming some search share — it doesn’t take a rocket science to note that people have to know about something in order to use or buy it.

But none of this means that the OPA and comScore have, with this study, forever solved the problem of how advertisers measure their online ad buys. Far from it. Even if branding ads are the prevalent form on TV, and usually don’t even have a direct response mechamism, in online, expectations are different — it will take a lot of studies for that perception to change.

For one recent story I did on the search for metrics beyond the click-through, I was told that some advertisers insist on buying on a cost-per-click basis, knowing full well that, because click-through rates are so bad, they’ll get the media cheap while still benefiting from impressions of those who did not click. It’s going to be a long road.

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