Is a click a correct measure to assess the effectiveness of a display ad?

Using a search engine today to find information is almost second nature for most of us. We use it to answer a question or reach a website to buy something. We also use it to travel from one location to another. We use search engines to consume news and information of all kinds.

Search advertising has been derived from the integral convenience of search engines – a buyer is offered links that are either an exact match or a near match to their request and are designed to quickly direct the buyer to specific products and services.

Now, online display advertising is a different story. People visit websites for looking up information, entertainment, playing games, sending emails and interacting with other people; not to click on ads that send them elsewhere.

So now the moot question is – Is a click a correct measure to assess the effectiveness of a display ad?

The journey for a search ad starts from clicking it and finishes at a conversion – buying a product/ service, enquiring about a service, downloading marketing brochures, locating a store or restaurant. This concept is ingrained in people and widely accepted today. Buyers who use a search engine are likely to click on an ad and will do so if they think that the link has the potential to deliver to their need.

Marketing professionals can simply evaluate the potential of numerous search phrases to drive buyers to the page where they will complete a purchase decision. Since a search ad relates to an intent stated by the person doing the search, click-through rates are a good indicator for conversion, and cost per click (CPC) is a reliable guide for buying search ads.

Now when we talk about display experience, it is not the same as search experience for buyers. The influence of a display ad is more nuanced than that of a search ad. Search behaviour is associated with an obvious and instant need. On the contrary, when a buyer is viewing other varieties of online content he/ she has reached at his/ her journey’s finish line. In display ads, people are seldom surfing with a buyer’s mindset at the time a marketer places an ad in front of them.

Simply put – Search ads are Pull Marketing and Online Display ads are Push Marketing.

We don’t expect a buyer to click on an ad.

What does it mean? If a marketer optimises a campaign for click conversions only, then he/ she is optimising to influence the people who clicked through. If he/ she optimise a campaign for all conversions, then they are optimising for all the people – both viewers and clickers combined – who will eventually go to the website and purchase a product/ service.

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Use social media to drive website traffic

Today, competition for online/digital traffic is fierce.

Daily new bloggers join the flow of information competing to be found. Even if you have the advantage of already enjoying lots of visitors and page views, it is a brave web site owner that assumes that the success of yesterday will be automatically replayed forward into tomorrow. Audiences are keener and demand new, exciting insightful content in return for their attention.

Since the ultimate goal is to secure their loyalty and habit, a single visit can never be enough. To get a real return on your online investment in traffic generation you need to see increased sales or at the very least, lower bounce rates and a higher percentage of repeat visitors.

Fortunately, social media unlike SEO offers the versatility you need to keep your engagement fresh and alluring. However, it is important not to fall into the trap of believing that having a presence on social media is all that is required.

To effectively use social media to drive traffic to your website it is important to consider the following:

  • Comments

If you have an online presence that includes a website it is important that it provides a facility for capturing your visitors’/users’ experiences.

You will be amazed to notice how many websites I come across that do not include the facility to leave comments. Perhaps the site owners are alarmed of what might be said. Apart from the fact that you can moderate comments before they appear, even controversial comments are helpful as they will encourage others to leave their own opinions. It will depict that the site owner has an open mind and is ready for feedback that will ultimately help them improve.

If you are using WordPress, you can use the available plugins that allow you to send an email notification to people registering on your site on leaving comments; this encourages them to come back. You can optimise this by using plugins that show additional content on your site below comments so that your visitors can explore more of your website, stay longer and get to know you better.

  • Expand your reach

Whereas it is important to be clear about which social media networks you have a presence on and why, you should also ensure that you do not unnecessarily limit your engagement to Facebook and Twitter. There are hundreds of social media networks leaving aside the big five (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Google+). If your audience is online, expanding your footprint to include more social media networks means that you can use your community to amplify your reach.

However many social media platforms you decide to use, to get optimum traffic benefits they should be linked together. That is, your community should be able to share your content between social media networks without leaving the platform they are on.

  • Be active and engaged

The operative word in the term “social media” is social. If you want to get people interested in you enough to visit your main online real estate, i.e. your website, you have to be first interested in them!

The one thing that most business owners using social media don’t do is listen. When you listen you get insights into what your community’s concerns and needs are. You understand their problems better, which means you can be extremely accurate when it comes to providing the sort of information that will engage them and build strong lasting relationships.

Remember, you don’t want a quick trip to your website and then out. You want long lasting interactions so that your community becomes your voice in the places where they are and you are not. They are amplifying your message and will bring new followers back to your lair to share the experience.

According to a study of 12,000 consumers conducted in 2012 by Marketforce:

  1. 80% of users claim that “because of social media, I am more likely to try new things based on friends’ suggestions.”
  2.  In addition to trying new things, 72% are also more prone to switching sides and making recommendations to encourage their own friends to try new products

Earned media is the key to unlocking the power of social for your brand

  • Make influential links

In the same way building solid relationships with your community members turns them into raving fans; building good mutually beneficial relationships with influential people helps convert them into your advocates.

Everyone likes to be admired and complimented on their good work. Often we make the assumption that this is either not true of more influential, high profile people or that they hear it so often that they are unlikely to be interested in any feedback from you. In my experience this is not the case. Therefore identify a list of key influential people in your industry and engage with them.

Once you have built a relationship don’t be afraid to ask them to share your content with their community. They are unlikely to refuse if you have built genuine bonds and extra exposure will have a significant impact on your traffic.

  • Social media tools

There are a plethora of social media tools designed to make the job or spreading your content, connecting to the right people and driving traffic to your website easier.

I want to mention RSS feed because it is often overlooked. RSS is a “set it and forget it way” to keep your community informed.

Given that you have to be reasonably active online to sign up for a RSS feed, providing this facility on your website and using your social media to encourage your community to subscribe to it means that you can drive your more active users to your website whenever you have new information. Your more active community members are more likely to share your content.

Social media is a two way street. Traffic will only come to you if you first provide something of incredible value to your audience. Therefore create great content that has the viral effect and gets shared.

Be creative and have a mixture of images/videos/podcasts/blogs etc. so that you appeal to a wider spectrum of tastes. Evidence shows that if you provide information that is useful, creates value and share your knowledge/expertise your audience are more likely to connect with you.


You understand that successful social media initiatives start with an alignment to the social media marketing “phase” the brand is in. You have mastered an understanding of the powerful ways in which you can use social media to grow your brand and drive real business results. You have thought through engagement strategies. And you have even ushered in buying activity from your fans that are part of your trustworthy community.

This three-phase framework is cyclical. Continued engagement with users enables actions, stories, and messages to spread through fans’ networks and attract friends of fans to the brand page (generating earned media), helping to lead into growth initiatives again. Follow this framework and key stakeholders within your business will recognize the value and ROI delivered throughout each step of this virtuous cycle.

However, above all be yourself and be likable and that way people will be attracted to you like a magnet.


Subramaniam Krishnan

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