The exact number seems to differ depending on which report you believe, but it seems likely that the world’s first banner ad received a click through rate of around 44%. These days, people get excited if a campaign receives an average anywhere near 1%. This to me suggests that click through rates, as a success metric, are essentially broken. Something that research seems to back up.
Many clients, agencies and publishers still quote CTR as if they really matter when, I would suggest, most of the time they don’t. Quoting a click through rate of less than 1% as being a success is a bit like Whiskas selling cat-food by saying that 9.9 out of 10 cats don’t prefer it.
Whilst accountability has been an incredible tool for driving direct response budgets online, as TV and other more awareness focussed budgets shift online, I’d suggest it’s actually a hindrance. To most senior marketers, claiming such minuscule numbers as a win must sound ridiculous. And if your objective is to get people to watch a video, who cares if they click on it? Particularly on a mobile, where it’s just as likely that people are trying to turn the add off.
I’m not sure what the replacement is; probably something made up of products like OCR, OBE and Google’s new cross device conversions. But whatever it is, we need to think of it. Because essentially media metrics are proxies we use to estimate business success and, more and more, click through rates just feel like a proxy for measuring failure.