As industry experts debate the importance of ad impressions and clicks in creating conversions, we advise brands to focus on quality over quantity when it comes to online display advertising by using consumer research to improve their return on investment.

Recent reports from comScore, AdAge and the Association of Online Publishers have all challenged the commonly held practice of measuring online advertising success primarily by the number of click-throughs an ad receives. For example, comScore released a study conducted in conjunction with the startup Pretarget that found a 0.01 correlation (on a scale of 0 showing no correlation and 1.0 representing the strongest correlation possible) between clicks and a conversion. This number was the lowest of all the metrics they studied, even below impressions. Additionally, the results showed that hovering over an ad actually had a higher rate of conversion than clicking.

All in all, several studies have made the point that the key to conversion is actually much more complex than simply counting the clicks on an ad. There are several challenges to how much visibility and interaction they receive. Many ads are placed in areas of websites that consumers don’t visit or spend much time on. Browser updates can also work against them; for example, auto-refresh functions can give ads short lifespans. A large number of ads are being served on pages that are inappropriate or irrelevant to the brand’s core audience. Additionally, advertising formats often don’t take the smaller screen sizes of mobile devices into account

In response, we suggest marketers should consider how consumer research tools can help them improve their online advertising strategies. As the attention shifts from click-throughs, further importance has been placed on visibility and engagement, relevance, other forms of measurement, and addressing the fragmentation of services caused by the burgeoning mobile market.

Our CEO, Bo Mattsson, says, “As online advertising has evolved, the rules have changed. Now, success is driven by an increasingly complex set of factors that can be difficult to determine without the proper research and planning. Studies have shown that a large number of online ads are missing the mark; they are struggling to achieve visibility, attention, relevancy and coherence in an increasingly fragmented environment. By investigating the opinions of their consumers, brands can discover the best pages, placements, and formats for their online ads.

“We urge everyone to think beyond the traditional uses of market research. It can more than a straightforward tool for informing product development or brand messaging. For example, online publishers can use tools like Cint Engage to query their readers about ideal advertisement formats and placement. Additionally, an open platform like Cint OpinionHUB can be a great resource for conducting research into what attracts consumers to ads online. Tapping into this diverse opinion marketplace can deliver the in-depth information needed to create a viable strategy for advertising success in today’s digital world.”

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