The mysterious case of disappearing clicks
Many many moons ago, as a novice in digital media, i faced a tough question from one of my clients. “Why is only a portion of the clicks reaching the intended website?”, my client had asked. This was the time when ecommerce as a phenomenon was rising, mobile browsing was done using 2G or Wifi only and most of the advertisers did know what a mobile site or responsive website was.
As a rookie, I had gone to my super boss with this particular issue & I was told about the reason for this drop;
- Infrastructure : The infrastructure in India wasn’t primed enough to always load all the websites at the click of the button. Given this, a certain portion of all the clicks delivered doesn’t reach the intended website.
- Technology : While using multiple ad tech stack like ad serving, verification, etc, there is high likelihood for the numbers to not match. The publisher would end up reporting x, the ad server y, and the google tags if used may report z.
Keeping all these arguments in mind, I went back to the client with a figure of 70% as the acceptable Click to Visit ratio in India. This was in 2012.
Fast forward to 2018. All the mobile networks are offering 4G & LTE service and consumers are watching whole movies on mobile network, the advertisers have woken up to mobile revolution and have created responsive website, mobile sites, and in some cases mobile apps. With respect to technology stack, many advertisers are choosing to go with a single tech stake rather than having multiple partners. The total number of internet users rose from approx 100 million in 2012 to closer to 450 million in 2017. All these assures advertisers in some way or the other than the Click to Visit ratio should have at best increased to high 80% or at worst held its ground at 70%.
On the contrary, the numbers have plummeted. I know of businesses that accept 30% as the acceptable norm today. For lack of any other way to express this, in my humble opinion, this isn’t unacceptable. More about that in a while.
Over the past couple of months, we have been analysing a lot of media campaigns for our clients. To our surprise, we have seen many instances wherein the Click to Visit ratio is in low single digits. Does this mean that over 90% of the consumers who have seen the ad & interacted with the ad by clicking on it to know more details, finally decided to not go ahead? In the AIDA model of business, while media is driving awareness, the interest & desire are the subsequent actions of clicks & website or app visits. If so, then Clicks & the resulting visits to App or Website is a key indicator of the campaign performance or the quality of the media inventory used.
Before getting into details of how to use C2V as a metrics in your campaign, let us try to understand why Clicks are disappearing before the intended action of visiting the website. There are 2-3 different reasons for this;
- Website is under-performing: The businesses have not understood the power of internet & mobile, and do have a mobile friendly destination or have used an outdated tech stack which doesn’t support the current ecosystem. This is hardly the case today.
- Wrong implementation of the campaign: The possibility that media agency or the media team at the business running the campaign has used the wrong tags, wrong landing pages, etc which has resulted in campaigns visits not being tracked at all. Surprisingly this happens lot many times than I am comfortable with, but more on campaign checklist in a different article perhaps.
- Fraudulent inventory: Bots & Click farms aren’t the only fraudsters in the ecosystem. When publishers run ads with wrong placements, wrong ad unit, wrong sizes, popups & popunders, etc there are unwanted clicks which never really goes anywhere. I am sure everyone who has visited a torrent site would have experienced this, leading to a website opening. In all likelihood, you may have closed the website the moment it tries to open, leading to no sessions. In other words, a human clicked on the ad, but never reached the website.
In the absence of any sort of verification tools that are being used by the business, your click to visit (C2V) becomes a very important indicator of the quality of your media buys.
There are many ways in which a business can thus use this to improve efficiency.
- Create your historical benchmark of this numbers for the last one year and understand the best performing campaigns.
- Understand the variation in the C2V for the same publisher. Understand in detail whether it was run on web, mobile web or mobile apps.
- Start tagging the campaigns by Device & Publishers for better tracking.
- Create your tolerance limit and be clear upfront with the execution team & the publishers on what you are ready to accept.
- Be open to increase the unit price of the inventory to improve the quality of the inventory.
- Hold your execution team accountable for under performing platforms.
- Review the publishers that you are working with on a regular basis and keep increasing the acceptable limit until you reach the best ROI.
- Bring C2V into your measurement metrics for all types of campaign, be it branding, be it performance, be it affiliate campaign.
I will leave with this thought for you to ponder.
The average footfall to conversion in an offline store in approx 20-25%. Irrespective of the brand that is running the retail mall, all the brands keep a tab on the conversion rate. In case this number goes down, then the only possible explanation is that the mall is not able to attract the right users to the store (inventory quality). C2V is that metrics, a key indicator on “Am I reaching the right people. It just impacts your business”.