Measuring clicks in online brand advertising is wrong

Caught this story today about how brands need to stop focusing on clicks and treat online advertising just like they do television advertising. The article is here and mentions a presentation given at the Internet Advertising Bureau MIXX Conference & Expo. Choice quote:

Clicks may still matter in some cases, but not for driving in-store sales. Smallwood said that 99% of sales driven by Facebook brand campaigns were from people who saw ads, but never clicked on them.

“Brands should be optimizing to that 99%,” Smallwood said.

Yes! Especially given the abysmal click-through rates of online advertising. Optimize for the .02% or 99%?

I have hope, perhaps delusional, that the future of internet advertising will help publishers and creative people make real money online via advertising. By “real money” I’m talking about the kind of money that a traditional media outlet could expect given a certain amount of readership. Still, the money is going to go where the eyeballs go. But if you have a site with a lot of eyeballs? That site should make real money. Right now, the lion’s share of online ad spending goes to Google, Facebook, Yahoo! and a couple of other sites. Everybody else fights over the scraps. I’m hopeful that this will change somewhat as the tools that help brand marketers find the right audience gain traction. I know I’m an idealist, but I’m hopeful.

If brands spend the time and energy on creating engaging messages and high quality creative ads (without the insane amounts of javascript behind them that taints the online media experience), those ads will make a difference to the brand bottom line. Which is the only measure of success an ad campaign should have. Well, maybe that and is it a good ad? Did it get any creative recognition? Success is not how many people clicked and where on the ad they clicked. Success is how many people saw the ad(s) and a bump upward in sales.

Here’s the 30 minute video of the admittedly very marketing wonky presentation:

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I’m including this video as an artifact of the weird advertising climate in which we currently live. It appears that the love affair with clicks is starting to fade, but we are, as Facebook’s Mr. Smallwood says, at a crossroads where the rulebook for best practices is being rewritten. One thing I wanted to ask you is how you respond to brands on Facebook? Toward the end of the video, Nestlé’s marketing head Tom Buday talks about a brand being your friend. While on the surface, it sounds creepy, isn’t that the relationship we build with brands we love? They take a valued place in our lives? We may not want to admit this, but if I look at the small number of brands that I truly like, I’m likely to consider their options before other brands.

Do you feel the same way?