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The Internet The Almighty Buck

6% of Web Users Generate 50% of Ad Clicks 341

pcause writes "A recent study finds that 6% of Web users generate 50% of the click-throughs. Worse news for advertisers: these clickers are not representative of the population as a whole, most have incomes under $40K, and their clicks are not related to any offline buying. (They are mostly males between 25 and 44 years of age.) The number of clicks on an ad campaign is also not strongly correlated with brand awareness for the ads' subject, according to the study. This is bad news for ad-supported Web sites and businesses, as rates should drop if the Net economy begins to take these findings seriously."
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6% of Web Users Generate 50% of Ad Clicks

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  • HAHAHAAHAHHAHAHA (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @05:17PM (#22397436)
    and with these statistics google is worth 100+ billion dollars???


    sell now suckerss!!!
  • by superskippy ( 772852 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @05:23PM (#22397570)
    The thing to bear in mind here is that the ads that were about before the internet- TV spots, posters on the street, pages in magazines and newspapers, jingles on the radio and so on have a click-through of zero. Yet people still bother with them.

    The real problem here is that the pay-per-click method doesn't charge advertisers fairly. A combination pay-per-view, and pay-per-click model might be better.
  • Not surprising (Score:5, Insightful)

    by elysiana ( 1152995 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @05:23PM (#22397572)
    Hmmm people who actually click on ads rather than blocking them are actually likely to click on other ads also? Then when they realize that they did not, in fact, win a free iPod, they don't buy the product that is being sold?

    I am less than shocked.
  • Re:No Money (Score:5, Insightful)

    by arivanov ( 12034 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @05:29PM (#22397674) Homepage

    1. The impulsiveness of purchases is highest in low income categories. The middle class actually counts pennies much more and the rich have someone counting for them. Example, my wife nearly choked on her dinner watching BBC News awhile ago when they reported the failure of a pyramid "christmas present purchase" scheme predominantly used by the poor. She was very sympathetic until she heard the numbers lost by most families which were in the range of 400-800 pounds. We are reasonably well off and sorry, no way in hell for us to spend that for a Christmas budget. That is more like what we will spend in several years. So after that she immediately switched to a "well deserved, serves you right" mode.

    2. The worst perception of his personal finance state in the developed world is ... Surprise... Surprise... Young males college to around 35. These are most likely to buy crazy stuff even if it will hurt their pocket. Next worst offenders as far "financial discipline" is concerned are women right before they hit a certain "golden" age.

    Overall, the study matches very well the actual "buy based on advertisement" demographic. I do not see anything particularly detrimental to the online ad business coming out of it. It is business as usual. Move along.
  • by cmowire ( 254489 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @05:30PM (#22397698) Homepage
    The problem is that advertisers want to pay per-click to get per-impression results.

    There's no "click" on TV or radio or newspapers, just an impression. But when people realized that there *was* a click-through to be recorded on the web, they wanted to pay for that under the assumption that click-through and impression were correlated and therefore that they could gauge if their intended audience was getting the ads by the level of click-through.

    This makes things easy. If the click-through on an advertisement is high, clearly you need to keep it there. If it's low, it's clearly not properly targeted. This can be automated to run without human intervention. The survey disproves this.

    So, really, what it's showing is that the web advertising market needs to be structured more like a traditional media buy.

    I suspect the biggest winners in this market will be large web companies with enough folks to have an advertisement team and captured demographics information to be able to say "Sure the click-throughs are all 35 year old virgins with a crap job, but the *viewers* are actually mostly upper management level people with a wife and a mistress"

    And, since this is Slashdot, we can make the logical conclusion that the companies in the article were paid by one of the aforementioned large web companies with enough folks to have an advertisement team and captured demographics information.
  • by Altus ( 1034 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @05:32PM (#22397716) Homepage

    I wouldn't be surprised if googles text ads had a better rate than a lot of the banner ads I see.

    Seriously, how many people are going to buy anything that was advertised with a "punch the monkey" style ad? How many people choose their mortgage company because they saw some flashing crap on the web. The people who are drawn in by these ads don't buy houses.

    On the other hand, every time I do a google search I check those ads out. When I'm emailing about something in gmail I will often see related ads and they are often very relevant. Several times I have written an email to someone with a line like "I wonder where I could buy something like X?" and as soon as I send I see an ad up top for a web site that sells just what I am looking for. Thats good advertising. I'm not clicking through because I felt like playing some stupid flash game in an ad, I'm clicking through because I wanted to buy the product being advertised.

    I think its really more an issue of the approach the advertisements take to get those clicks that has been resulting in less sales per click.

  • Well Duuuh... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Boogaroo ( 604901 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @05:32PM (#22397726) Homepage
    Seriously, the ads I click on are 99.9% accidental. I think I've clicked on about five ads I actually WANTED in the last ten years.
    Is it any wonder that the people who are clicking on ads constantly are not the "average joe?" Most people hate commercials and other junk that gets in the way of what they were looking at.

    "Oh, another ad for the same BMW I switched away stations on the radio, muted on TV, and flipped past in the newspaper. I think I'll click on this one because it's in the middle of my news story about Britney Spears' latest breakdown."

    I wonder what correlation there is between this 6% and the people who click on the "V1agr@" spams in their email.
  • by Bryansix ( 761547 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @05:37PM (#22397812) Homepage
    Ever heard of Brand Awareness? Getting a banner ad out there and seen by hundreds of thousands of people three or four times a day is worth it if you have a product to sell that already has good distribution. Even if these ads never generate clickthrough, they are still worth it.

    Furthermore there are only two ads I click on and it NEVER leads to my buying things. The first are informational ads. Like I clicked on that Chevron Ad on Slashdot recently. I was interested in all the various energy distribution and generation methods they were persuing. The Second are Text ads for companies I really dislike. I will click the advertised link because I know it is costing them money. Ya it may only be one cent but it makes me all warm and fuzzy inside.
  • by sootman ( 158191 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @05:47PM (#22398012) Homepage Journal
    NOOOOOOO!!!! We NEED these people! The WWW is supported by ads, so as long as these people do all the clicking, no one will mind if the rest of use use AdBlock, custom /etc/hosts files, etc.

    Now, killing all the people who buy from spammers, I still support, though I'd rather kill the spammers themselves. Spammers are truly evil; the people who buy from them are merely stupid.
  • duh? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by moracity ( 925736 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @05:49PM (#22398044)
    It doesn't take a "study" to realize that only imbeciles (or people new to the internet) actually click through internet ads. These are probably the same people that buy infomercial and home shopping channel garbage.
  • Also (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @05:52PM (#22398092)
    While people may not be clicking, that doesn't mean the ads aren't getting them thinking. Google holds the record as only site where I've ever clicked on an ad and bought something. That is because their ads are extremely targeted and they've been linking to sites actually selling something I want when I'm ready to buy. However, other ads still make me consider products. I've never bought anything from Think Geek by clicking on an ad, but the ad has got me thinking about something I might want, which I may then later go to Think Geek and buy.

    Just because you can click on ads, doesn't mean you will, but just because you don't doesn't mean you weren't influenced by it.
  • Re:In Comparison (Score:3, Insightful)

    by countSudoku() ( 1047544 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @05:55PM (#22398158) Homepage
    Perhaps is just that advertising on a whole is questionable.

    Exactly. Advertising is one of those businesses that seem to make a ton of money and carry a lot of weight when the so-called "important messages" are spewed at us nonstop during events or shows both big and small. I too ignore almost all advertisements as a general rule. Who in their right mind would take some slick video advice from the assholes trying to sell you their widget rather than do the research on your own, or just make an impulse buy and be done with it? When I had pay-for TV I just mute the sound and do anything else when an ad comes on. I don't listen to commercial-filled radio and I run adblock plus like most savvy net users do. I can't remember the last advertisement I've seen, nor do I care to. I make purchasing decisions based on the reviews and product info directly or via peers. The advertising businesses are a waste of time and money and I feel sorry for the assholes who occupy the airspace wasted by this so-called "industry".
  • Re:Well Duuuh... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by anpe ( 217106 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @05:56PM (#22398170)
    Well, actually, I click on ads as a sort of reward on blogs I find interesting. I don't even look at the ad, just click a random google ad link. My reasoning is that if the blog post is interesting, I can add my 0.02€, literally.
  • Re:No Money (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cheater512 ( 783349 ) <> on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @06:02PM (#22398266) Homepage
    I'm not sure about poor impulse control = low income.

    I'd say poor impulse control = low money. ;)
  • Re:No Money (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bjourne ( 1034822 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @06:23PM (#22398640) Homepage Journal

    1. The impulsiveness of purchases is highest in low income categories. The middle class actually counts pennies much more and the rich have someone counting for them.
    Let's see some source for that, can we? If you want to continue spreading the myth that poor=stupid, then at least paste a link. The only thing that differs is what people buy impulsively. Rich people impulse buys cars, middle class people fancy clothes and poor people tickets to the movies.
  • by letxa2000 ( 215841 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @06:23PM (#22398642)

    I much prefer to pay the agency $10 per sale that gets made through their ads.

    Whooosh... I'm sure you'd like that, as an ad buyer. But that'd be entirely unfair to the person providing content that is providing the eyeballs to you. As others have been saying here--including this article--except for a few rares cases that depend on impulse buying, the biggest ROI for advertisement is influencing long-term buying decisions rather than trying to provoke an immediate one.

    If Ford does some banner advertising for their vehicles, it's unlikely that someone is going to click on a link, whip out their credit card, and buy a truck. They might not even click the link. But the picture of the truck and "Ford" were seen and that'll be archived in their mind, probably unconsciously. It's the ultimate form of subliminal advertising. And you can't make any link as to whether or not that banner ad lead to any single truck purchase--but it becomes a part of the campaign to increase overall sales.

    I run a technical website that receives north of a million hits per month. I've come up with rates that are per/month but which have some basis on CPM (impressions). While I track the click-thru (and so do my advertisers), I don't bill on that basis and never will. They're getting a million impressions per month whether or not anyone clicks on their ads. So even if not a single click-thru leads to an immediate sale, you better believe they've gotten a good deal getting that ad in front of so many people.

    I've had my website on cruise control for over 8 years and my ad rates are still at 2000 levels even though my traffic has gone from 200,000 to a million per month in that time. I was just re-evaluating my rates the other day and realized that since I haven't adjusted my rates and hits have gone up, I'm only charging something like $0.80/CPM. Apparently you can get $5/CPM for bottom-feeding hit-the-money type nonsense and targeted niche markets (like the one I operate in) can be $35/CPM. I definitely need to start adjusting my rates. I don't need to earn $35,000/month (which is what one million hits @ $35/CPM would gross), but I think it's time I started earning more than $800/month. :)

  • by Cussin_IT ( 1143215 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @06:28PM (#22398716)
    The whole premise of this articlie is that males 25-44 are the ones clicking all those adds.

    I don't think that it's a coincidence that this is the major porn veiwing public, nor that most adds (and add supported sites) are for porn
  • by SL Baur ( 19540 ) <> on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @06:30PM (#22398748) Homepage Journal
    Advertising on Slashdot is a chancy business. Never mind the click through rate, if I were an advertiser, I'd be concerned about the likely high percentage of AdBlock users who never see the ads at all.
  • by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @06:34PM (#22398808) Journal
    Click throughs from adds run on Slashdot? They know the type of people doing the clicks.

    What kind of person even sees the ads on /.?
  • by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @06:37PM (#22398842) Journal
    Spammers are truly evil; the people who buy from them are merely stupid.

    There's a difference?
  • by TheNetAvenger ( 624455 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @06:39PM (#22398870)
    Click advertising has and never will be a successful marketing mechanism for the internet as a whole. Sure there are some products and some sites that it works, but these are rare.

    Just like television and other successful forms of ad generated industries it is all about product placement and brand recognition that has to be used.

    The smartest advertising sites have ads for Coke, or Honda where the advertisers DON'T expect the person to click, but to just view. Just like TV...

    After 100 years of influention psychology in advertising for brand recognition, it is scary that a 'bright' new technology doesn't understand the simplicity.

    No matter if you go back to the begining of a 'want' instead of a 'need' consumer base that boomed in the 50s or even the first 'marketing' firms based on Freud during the 'need' based economy in the US prior to that, nothing has changed.

    Do you think Burma-Shave would have worked if people had to get out of their cars and pick up a flyer on the product at each sign?

    Sure things are faster and harder to notice on the internet, but still, you got 5 secs to grab someone's attention, don't disturb or annoy them and DON'T make them do anything and you have a successful ad. PERIOD.

    Some of the best advertising that is working on the internet is from youtube type of sites providing commericial content. You can watch any TV show in the world legally, and at your own schedule and you have 4 or 5 15secs pauses of ads. Yet people are 'use' to it, and the ads are becoming the most successful because they live up to the simple rules from the above paragraph.

    This can be done with static site and news as well, heck even do a cute Flash/Silverlight video on the page, just don't use sound and don't expand over crap to disturb the person. Product recognition is not a conscious thing anyway, so determining it by ad clicks requires concious involvement. Bad Idea, Bad Model, and Bad Method to test advertising success.
  • by tattood ( 855883 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @06:42PM (#22398928)

    I don't think that it's a coincidence that this is the major porn veiwing public, nor that most adds (and add supported sites) are for porn
    While I won't argue that a significant part of the Internet is dominated by porn, I find it hard to agree that the majority of the ads, and ad supported sites are pornography based. If that were the case, sites like Yahoo, New York Times, and other non-porn based websites would be getting very little ad revenue, and therfore would be shutting down due to lack of income to pay for the site.
  • Re:No Money (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jarjarthejedi ( 996957 ) <> on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @06:51PM (#22399074) Journal
    Since when is impulsive stupid? It's certainly not the best way to handle things, but neither is an impulsive person an idiot. There are benefits (my friends who are impulse buyers tend to be happier than those who plan their purchases) and disadvantages (the impulse buyers do tend to have less money on hand at any time, although in my group of friends they're also the ones with the highest incomes so it really balances it).

    [quote]Rich people impulse buys cars, middle class people fancy clothes and poor people tickets to the movies.[/quote]

    If anyone needs to cite a source and stop spreading degrading myths it would seem to be you, the guy implying that poor people can't afford anything besides tickets to a movie (seriously? That's like $7 per person, you can get some nice clothes for the same price as 2-3 trips).

    What people buy depends more on who they are than their economic status (though not being able to afford something is an impedance, credit cards have made it possible to impulse buy things you can't afford). One of the factors (ONE!) in economic status, however, is how many impulse purchases you make (I'll repeat so I don't get flamed for saying that poor people aren't good with money, that's only ONE reason).
  • by TheSkyIsPurple ( 901118 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @07:02PM (#22399236)
    How much garbage do you get via snail mail?

    Last I checked, getting a 6% "click thru" via direct mail advertising was considered a really good run.
    (That is... customer gets ad, and calls for info or comes in)

    Direct Mail is still profitable...
  • by proc_tarry ( 704097 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @07:13PM (#22399362)
    Market research companies don't release studies like this for the benefit of general consumption. What they're really doing is suggesting that blind click-through rates are not sufficient measures of return on investment AND you need their service in determining which click-through consumers do generate higher return.
  • by guttentag ( 313541 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @07:39PM (#22399736) Journal

    Maybe I am just evil, but I would not have posted this if I worked for a site that generated a lot of revenue through banner ads.
    You would if you worked for Yahoo.

    You'd come out of the "how do we get Microsoft to leave us alone without subjugating ourselves to Google" brainstorm meeting determined to convince Microsoft that online advertising is not the next big thing, it's the next big inflated idea that's about to burst and take a lot down with it. A huge part of Microsoft's reasoning behind the acquisition is that online advertising is about to take off, and if they can't kill Google now they'd better buy the #2 player so they have a larger piece of that pie. So you'd quietly see to it that this report about the value of ad clicks gets a lot of attention right after Microsoft announces it's going to pursue a hostile takeover.

    Shareholders believe Yahoo has been losing value because it's losing to Google in the ad space, so Yahoo would want to point out that ads aren't the whole game for them. This report downplays the value of online advertising in the future, which would allow Yahoo to suggest that its premium, subscriber services will be a significant source of revenue. This is a bad idea, though, in my opinion. I've been subscribing to their premium services for years, but recently decided to cancel them after someone hijacked my Yahoo account, changed my password and began impersonating me through IM, email and other services during the three days it took them to get me back into my account. And in the aftermath, Yahoo has ignored every email I've sent about this. Bottom line: Yahoo lacks the security and customer service to maintain subscription-based services, and as this happens to more people they will also drop the services.
  • Re:No Money (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PingPongBoy ( 303994 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @09:52PM (#22401050)
    The impulsiveness of purchases is highest in low income categories

    Further note that impulse items are low-priced items. A person who impulsively buys a car, but can't pay for it, doesn't help the seller who has to go find it. An impulse item may be stupid rather than it's-ok-to-have-extra, like batteries or tissues, but it has to be affordable to appeal to many people.

    Tasteful ads that don't need clicking but still get the message across ought to still create some business. The buyer may have to be reminded a large number of times that s/he still has yet to make that purchase. It actually is not that hard to interest a buyer who is in the market--for the most part, follow the buyer's line of desire and counteract any objections like "burns too much gas", "too hard to see in daylight," whatever. Also to consider for web ad success--buyers are used to getting satisfaction from bricks-and-mortars stores, and the same completeness of service needs to be apparent the instant a banner ad is displayed.

    There are many things that I want to know about a product/service, but I see very few everyday items advertised on the Internet on popular web sites. And ads resembling the fearful popup just scream "fear this product" and "fear the Internet", or at the very least they say "we don't appreciate the paranoia". Would there not be an automatic distrust of banner ads if useful items like power saws, eminently sellable from a manufacturer, don't appear in online ads? If only weird things are sold on the Internet, then only weird people will even consider looking at an online ad.

    Clicking on an ad has been stigmatized, but the ad could do better if it displays an actual URL. After the user goes to the company site, there has to be a "tell me what I don't know" presentation. The user with money is typically sitting with a fancy computer with a number of cool features--this user doesn't want a few silly words and primitive line drawings. This user expects the business to expose itself on the record, in depth and detail. And it has to be easy or else there are a million other web sites begging to be seen.

    Consumer confidence needs to be maintained. McDonald's shows part of the kitchen to people placing orders. Online purchasers may feel better, and may well be attracted, with visual monitoring and presentation of factories, packaging, delivery, as well as features and how-to. Big stores present the I-invested-a-lot-of-money-so-I-have-to-serve-you-well feeling, and online ads have to get away from the I-couldn't-have-spent-much-to-make-this-cheesy-ad-so-what-the-heck-if-you-don't-care idea. If clicking an ad takes a user somewhere fantastic, the Internet will make the ad renowned. The point might not be spreading advertising money over a large number of web sites but instead concentrating more on developing a company image while having the ad appear on a few sites.

    Many television ads are well-produced because television time is expensive, and the ad has to be a good seller in order to justify its existence. Web sites should charge big bucks and provide a powerful reason to captivate the audience. That would be a good thing for us who are tired of seeing weird, ugly crap littering web pages, all the reason to buy larger screens so that scrolling down won't be necessary--and of course that's why screens are wide but very short, ostensibly to show movies full screen, right? Not!

    Although businesses will save anywhere and use cheap advertising where they can get as much exposure as possible. This may be detrimental to web ads as a whole, but improving technology may be making it possible for web ads to sell better, for consumers to learn more about products and services, and for transactions to be less risky. In the end, web advertising ought to evolve to the next generation while purchasing becomes less running-around. Revival of the Internet sales idea would work out as long as good service is assured in every detail.

Karl's version of Parkinson's Law: Work expands to exceed the time alloted it.