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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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  • by croddy ( 659025 ) * on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @05:17PM (#22397420)
    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.
  • Rates or targets? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Telvin_3d ( 855514 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @05:23PM (#22397550)
    The only online advertising that this will hurt are the mass spam adds. Anything being targeted at a specific demographic can be easily and verifiably checked. As an example, anyone who runs adds on a site like Penny-Arcade can be quite sure that any click throughs are exactly the type of people they want to reach. Click throughs from adds run on Slashdot? They know the type of people doing the clicks. Random Click-here-for-hyped-product-of-the-moment? Not so much.

    Personally, I think this is a good sign. Adds targeting specific audiences and communities tend to be more respectful and interesting. If these findings promote that kind of advertising instead of flashing spams adds designed to distract, then hooray!
  • by janeeja ( 1238160 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @05:45PM (#22397954)
    This story made me think of two things: quote from wikipedia: []

    The Pareto principle (also known as the 80-20 rule, the law of the vital few and the principle of factor sparsity) states that, for many events, 80% of the effects comes from 20% of the causes.
    And: I also remember research being done regarding p2p networks and social behavior. I think it was preformed by at&t or something in that direction. 90% of the total amount of p2p clients were up/downloading only 10% of the total available content. Not very efficient..... for ISP's etc. jnj.
  • Re:The remaining 50% (Score:2, Interesting)

    by erick99 ( 743982 ) * <> on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @05:46PM (#22397988)
    I click out of pure curiosity. But then, I also enjoy looking at junk mail :)
  • Re:No Money (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sayfawa ( 1099071 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @06:27PM (#22398706)
    Just an anecdote using myself as an example. When I am in a situation where I'm pretty poor, living from check to check, I find myself not even trying to save money as much. It's like a downward spiral, possibly brought on by a feeling of hopelessness about my economic situation. As if I figure: "why bother pinching pennies when the end result is still poverty?".

    On the other hand, when I'm doing better economically I find myself becoming thrifty. As soon as I see that money piling up in the bank I want to see how much more I can save.

    Thankfully, I'm in the latter state right now, and I find myself cooking a lot more (as opposed to eating out) and buying less unnecessary items like beer and snacks.

    But maybe I'm just weird.
  • Re:The remaining 50% (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @06:27PM (#22398710)
    One way to increase the number of clicks would be to offer to punch the idiots responsible for the abominable flash monkey.
  • Re:No Money (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mattdev121 ( 727783 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @06:30PM (#22398744) Homepage
    I'd say that poor impulse control certainly does = low income. If you extend impulse to hastily-made decisions such as "screw 4 more years at school, I can make $16/hour if I start work RIGHT NOW!", which may sound higher than some entry-level college student jobs, but they stay $16/hour until you retire, unlike more professional jobs. From this perspective, those who are unable to strongly hold out, plan, and think rationally, end up with low income jobs.
  • Re:The remaining 50% (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @06:39PM (#22398878) Journal
    The remaining 50% are made up of people who just gotta punch that monkey!

    Man, this is just crying out for a G. W. Bush joke. Must ..... Resist...
  • by RexDevious ( 321791 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @07:00PM (#22399198) Homepage Journal
    Of course people who click on ads are atypical. We know that already, and it's been statistically neutralized out of the equation.

    There are only 2 goals for an ad, brand awareness, or profit.

    I don't need to tell you about brand awareness, you've all seen ads that we're on the internet before, and can figure out why they're there.

    For profit ones just break it down into ROI. You don't *want* everyone clicking on your ad. That's why you hear a lot more about "click-fraud" than "impression fraud" when you're in internet advertising.

    The original article seems like it was written by people using very out dated methods of media buying. I don't know anyone who evaluates ads based solely on "clicks" for the same reason I don't know know anyone who evaluates websites based on "hits" anymore.

    Sure, we still look at Cost per Click; because that ties back into brand awareness values to some extent, but the real vector is Cost per *Conversion*; what did we pay per *customer*. Ya figure out how much a customer is worth, you know how effective your ads are.

    But internet advertising is still relatively new. It has a long way to go catch up to even Direct Mail in many cases. And as long as it's still profitable to do it clumsily, you'll see it done clumsily.

    Which is also the reason that women see ads for Viagra, and men see ads for Oprah's book club.
  • The number of clicks on an ad campaign is also not strongly correlated with brand awareness for the ads' subject

    On the internet, brand isn't near as important as relevance. That said, once relevance is achieved and the web surfer has a choice of web pages to choose from, then brand plays a more prominent role (ie: they'll choose a website they know over one they don't know).

    As for the rest of the study's findings, I think you couldn't possibly convince a reputable marketer not to invest more money/talent/energy into online marketing. There's a lot of fluidity and change on the internet, but the upside is just far too great.
  • Re:No Money (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Cheech Wizard ( 698728 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @07:47PM (#22399828) Homepage

    This [] (table 2) shows the very lowest income bracket spends more on random things then the two brackets above it.
    I downloaded the report and read it. Personally I believe the report uses bad math, to say the least, but in general I rarely believe government reports. As to 'intelligence', that word in and of its self has so many definitions it is practically a useless word. What, exactly, is the definition of 'intelligence'?
  • Re:The remaining 50% (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ohtani ( 154270 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @11:17PM (#22401656) Homepage
    I was bored one day years ago while between jobs and _I_ punched the monkey and picked from the tree and over again. The biggest prize they had available for doing so? A free plush version of the monkey, complete with boxing gloves. Still have it today.
  • Re:Impulse purchases (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Technician ( 215283 ) on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @12:36AM (#22402086)
    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.

    The rich tend to have product requirements to meet. They tend to be more technical and have better knowledge of the product they are looking for. Here is an example;

    I am involved in a new building (a church) and in the design stages they are laying out the wiring, including the low voltage stuff. An impulse buyer will simply check the price on a box of CAT5 cable and make a decision. I too checked prices. I also checked my requirements. Do I need riser rated cable, plenum cable, shielded cable? We need cable for the alarm, low voltage lighting controls, networking, AV, and intercom.

    The lighting if you do the popular DMX-512 stuff, by popular price, 3 pin microphone cable is often used. Advertisements are all over the place for very cheap "DMX" Cables. The spec for DMX clearly defines why mic cable is not to be used including the wrong impedance, and no UL aproval for fire code. Side note, it works for short runs as long as the connector shell is not connected unlike a true mic cable. Keep your 3 pin XLR mic cable away from your 3 pin DMX cable. On the legal side, these cables are not UL approved for in wall installation. RS-485 120 ohm cable is specified by the standard. Riser rated or even Plenum rated RS-485 cable is very expensive and can easly cost more than a lighting control board. The urge to go with something cheaper is very strong at this point.

    Using the wrong cable is what fills up the forums on lighting. Just before the production my desk died is a common complaint. The frequent cause is the noise filters in dimmers put noise current into the lighting ground. A borrowed Mic cable with grounded connector shells, connects the frame ground of the dimmer pack to the isolated ground of the signal. Often the spike noise blows out the comm chips and the show goes dark and a piece of **** console is blamed, when the root cause was a cable with grounded connector shells and a poorly grounded dimmer pack. Check the forums. The gremlins that eat the show just befor opening is common. Follow the spec. It's there for a reason.

    The CAT5 cable has been tested as a suitable replacement for RS-485 cable and exceeds the original performance ratings. As a bonus it is about 1/5 the cost in a FR4 fire rated classification. CMG is the most common. As a bonus, we don't have to buy 2 kinds of cable as one will now work in both applications for networking and lighting control. Further studies show the UTP cable both radiates and is subject to noise pick-up. STP cable is the next logical step. It is also easly located in riser and plenum ratings. It is much easer to source than plenum or riser rated RS-485 cable. As a bonus, it's a fraction of the cost while performing better.

    In my research including checking prices and cable ratings, how many manufactures counted my clicks as a non-sale? The manufacture that got my sale didn't get it from a banner ad. They got it by having full spec sheets online. I found my riser rated shielded CAT5 cable in pretty colors for $108/box of 1,000 feet. Banner ads for cheap cable don't deliver enough information to qualify a product for considration of purchase.

    I am now in the research stages of picking a wall mount dimmer system. Again, we have system requirements to meet. They are.. Multi-station. The janitor can enter and turn on the lights without turning on a lighting desk. Multi-system integration.. The house light system needs to accept a DMX-512 signal when present, so the lighting console can include the house lights in the lighting program. High power.. enough said. A dozen hanging fixtures with 6-8 100 watt bulbs will require a serious dimmer pack. Another set of PAR64 cans at 500-675 Watts each is a design consideration. Another 2 dozen recessed fixtures for stage, balcony and under the balcony will dictate the number of channels
  • Re:No Money (Score:2, Interesting)

    by blank axolotl ( 917736 ) on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @02:08AM (#22402674)
    Cool link, but I disagree with your interpretation. It looks very much like poor people are money conscious from that table.

    First of all, I don't think that the lowest income bracket is 'poor' people, I think they are students on loans. They are 4% of the population, earn less than $1000 a year, and spend $20,000 a year. They spend their income in a very similar way to the $10,000 to $15,000 income bracket, except for education where they spend almost twice as much as the $50,000 bracket. The >$60,000 bracket spends much more on education, but I think this is rich parents paying for their children.

    So ignore the lowest two income brackets for a moment, and look at the $10,000 to $20,000 income brackets. These are probably genuinely poor people who are working to make a living. You see that they DO spend less than higher earners. Furthermore, it looks to me like they are spending the bare minimum possible. All 4 of the income bracets below $20,000 spend a constant $3000 on food. This suggests to me that this is the minimum possible. Similarily, housing stays constant at $7000, and transportation mostly constant around $2000 in these brackets. These things make up the bulk of income.

    So the total story I pick up from the table is that poor people spend the miminum it is possible to live on for food, housing and transporation which makes up almost all of expenditures. Your claim that they spend more on 'random things' doesn't seem supported at all. In fact, the highest bracket in that table, >$60,000, only spends about 2 to 3x as much as them for food, housing, transporation, but 5x as much for entertainment, personal care, and 10x as much on miscellaneous. They also spend 10x as much on education (presumably for their children) which I think points to the real problem poor people have.

    So poor != stupid.
  • Slashdot manipulated (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @05:44AM (#22403858)

    What kind of news is this? Is it from a newspaper? TV? Radio? No! Not at all!

    The link leads just to a web page featuring the report. Where is it? A news site maybe? Not again!

    It turns out to be an advertising agency website, Starcom MediaVest, one so obscure that doesn't even have its own wikipedia entry. They sure make advertising on TV and newspapers, so what surprise is it that they despise web advertising? The report comes from a biased source - fruit from a poisoned tree.

    Remember the golden rule: A report has the credibility of those who sign it. Hence, only fools quote reports without stating their source. Slashdot just didn't. Thus, Slashdot was made a fool for today. I think it should have more care.

  • by Corwn of Amber ( 802933 ) <corwinofamber@ s k> on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @06:15AM (#22403984) Journal
    Sites like Yhoo and the NYT have gazillions of money to keep afloat "until ad-based revenue finally makes it profitable". Which it is, only because advertisers pay much more than what the ad space is worth, as demonstrated in the study referenced in TFA. This study just shows that the people who buy ads are wasting their money unless they're doing pr0n.

Research is what I'm doing when I don't know what I'm doing. -- Wernher von Braun