It’s Officially Time to Stop Focusing on CTRs

By Christine Göös

officially time stop focus on CTR

officially time stop focus on CTR

Click-through rates (CTRs) are a very common measure. Although we see them often, is this still a relevant metric in today’s digital climate? Perhaps it’s time to wave goodbye and focus on numbers that hold more significance.

Lolly Mason, VP of Media Partnerships in our London office, discusses this transition.

1. As an industry, why do you think we still have a fascination with click-through rates  (CTRs)?

In the early days of digital, ad budgets were won over from other channels. In part, this was on the basis that digital was instantly measurable. When we were lacking more sophisticated options, click measurement could be applied to all digital ads at once.

It’s very easy to continue to measure and optimize ads based on clicks, and it’s hard for individuals, let alone a whole industry, to switch from an easy option to a better option. Especially if it  entails more work and thought. Still, we need to motivate ourselves to create new standards.

2. Why are click-through rates (CTRs) not a favorable metric to focus on when measuring

brand building campaigns?

What we choose to measure affects our behavior. Our past focus on CTRs created an environment that rewards and encourages poor behavior such as click bait, cheap ‘spray and pray’ banner campaigns, and intrusive ads which generated accidental clicks. Now, we need to create an environment that supports real-world brand marketing KPIs like awareness, favorability, and purchase intent. Not only will this improve campaign outcomes, but also our online experiences. Additionally, CTRs on branding campaigns are statistically insignificant. Optimizing and judging performance based on an insignificant fraction of views makes no sense. What did the other 99.99% of users think?

3. What measures of success should advertisers be focused on?

There’s a lot we can learn from the offline world. Firstly, measurement can help us create and assess the likelihood of success before a campaign has even started. In the future, assessing ad creative (for favorability, purchase intent, etc.) against target audiences should take place prior to large campaign flight dates. Why waste media budget on creative that’s going to fall flat with your target audience?

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