Raiding the “Cookie” Jar, and Does it Make Sense to Count Clicks Anyway?

Consumers who delete cookies from their computers can skew advertising data, said Gian Fulgoni, Chairman, comScore, Inc, reporting research based on their panel of more than 2 million people. About 30 percent of users delete their cookies in a month, and these deleters do so an average of four times a month. This means there are 5 different cookies for the same site in a month on one computer. “If cookie has been deleted you think you are reaching a new machine when you are really just delivering additional exposure,” Fulgoni said. This results in an overstatement of up to 2.5 times in unique visitors and an understatement of frequency.

Of course, counting clicks might not be so important after all. Fulgoni’s research found that online ads have a positive impact even without clickthroughs. There is a lift in site visitation of 4 to 6 percent from display ads, even without a click. The increase in lift over a control is 65 percent in the first week and 45.7% in weeks 1 to 4.

“The number of clicks on display ads is not an accurate predictor of the effectiveness of online display ads,” he said. “Even with no clicks or minimal clicks, online display ads can generate substantial lift in site visitation, trademark search queries and lift in both online and offline sales.”

“You don’t expect a reaction every time a print ad is viewed or a TV ad is viewed,” he said. “The only reason we have the focus on clicks is that they can be measured. The Internet measures came out of the minds of technical people, not advertising people.”

He points out that this impact of online ads beyond clicks is particularly important to recognize as advertisers are moving to performance-based contracts based on clickthroughs. “In these economically stressful times, pay for performance deals are becoming more common. If you want to pay on the basis of clicks, it may be a great deal for the advertiser but not so great for the publisher.”

Robert Gunther

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