Why The Click-Through Is Dead


click through rate

For years the click through has been the barometer of success in the digital marketing world.  

It made some sense that in order for an advertisement to be successful I would want to click on it to take me to some website, presumably the website of the company that is advertising.

The click-through metric has been a staple of CPC and affiliate marketing, which pays the site providing the customer click-through a commission on each sale or conversion.  

Fast forward to today’s world of content marketing and native advertising, the value of the click-through as a digital metric is changing.  



Amazon Has Become A Destination Site

Take the shift to e-commerce, for example. Apple, Google, and Amazon have changed the way we buy things and more interestingly, how we market these goods and services.  What has happened?  How have our brains and behavior changed with technology?

The ubiquity of smartphones put the entire world at your fingertips.  Google has connected us with what we are looking for without needing to talk to librarians or understanding what boolean search is.  Amazon has given us the world of instantaneous products from our smart phones within a day or two.  

Because of Amazon’s clout, affiliate programs are now on their last limbs.  Amazon doesn’t need to pay out a commission anymore because it’s now the default place to shop.  

Instead of clicking on affiliate links, shoppers can now go directly to Amazon for all the product and user reviews they need to make an informed purchase.

Brand Marketers Change Their Strategies

Storytelling is slowly becoming the marketing 2.0 strategy. Brand marketers are tasked with making their brands appear more “human” by telling stories and flooding our social media and e-mail accounts with their content.

Brands know that content is the new way to reach your target audience, and are spending 28% of their marketing budgets on this new channel.

The glut of content from Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites now fill most of our day.  Most of it being forgotten as soon as it is consumed.  

Yet, content is still being measured by the old metric of the click-through. Is the click-through the right metrics to measure content marketing? Here is a current example of why I think the click-through is not the right metric.

The Best Way to Find the Presidential Debate Winners

You may be watching the Democratic and Republican debates these days.  The pundits on air debate who actually won the debates immediate following the debate.  

However, while winning the debate might be important, what’s more important for the candidates in the long run is winning the election.  Try as they might, we cannot vote the night the debate takes place.

Voting on the night of a non-election day is the same as expecting a click-through from your content.  

It’s not going to happen.  The metric a pundit suggested was Google search.  In order to measure voter interest in what a candidate was saying during the debate, the pundit suggested using Google searches about the candidates .  

And the pundit was right!  

The web is now a place for the candidates to explain their stances on a variety of issues in real-time. Do people still go to a candidate’s website anymore if the candidate’s site was linked in a story?  No.  I would open a new tab and I would Google them.   

Shoes and Pork Bellies

Switching to another example, money was invented because the combination of needs and wants was too hard to put together during the days of bartering.  

The shoemaker didn’t need pork bellies that often and the pork farmer didn’t need shoes that often.  Did that mean the shoemaker could only eat pork once a year and the farmer had one pair of shoes for several years?  

No, hence the invention of money.  Money provided people with a way to acquire their need or want when they wanted where they wanted.  

The click-through as a measure of success for a content marketing campaign is in a similar situation.  If a brand marketer creates some awesome content and introduces you to the content, should the marketer expect you to be a customer just like that?  

That’s way too coincidental, like immediately going out and buying a six-pack of Bud Light right after you see the Bud Light Super Bowl commercial. Come to think of it, Bud Light just came out with an app for that, but you get the idea.

Content needs to be measured in new ways that are external to the content. Google search is one, brand lift is another.  

But to measure content by the click-through means you are creating a certain type of content that encourages clicks and redeems (think coupons and discounts) versus a story that builds an emotional connection with the reader.  At Cooperatize, our mission is to help brands create memorable stories and show measurable results.

About the Author – Al Chen joined Google in 2007 as a financial analyst crafting deal models for some of Google’s top distribution and mobile partnerships. In 2010, he joined the Google TV Ads team focusing on the Travel, Finance, and Auto verticals. In late 2012, he co-founded a native advertising platform called Cooperatize, helping brands get their stories published on thousands of blogs at scale.