Click-through rates are not a marketing or business objective.

In a recent article by Gavin O’Malley, Pre-Roll Ads Get More Bang For The Buck Than In-Banner, Study Finds, pre-roll ads are touted as being 8-25 times more effective than in-banner ads. The study was based on new data from Web video company BBE, where over 2 billion impressions and virtually all of the online video ad campaigns ran on BBE’s network in 2008.

As stated in the article, “BBE’s goal was to find out which format brought advertisers the most bang for their buck, based on the most effective measurement the company has — click-through rates.“ While we can commend BBE for conducting research and collecting data around the different online video formats, it is disappointing to see CTRs still getting so much attention.

CTR is an old world reach metric that ignores the measurability of interactive channels and does not align with marketer’s objectives. Better to use efficiency metrics like cost per desired action or return on marketing objectives (ROMO) and focus on customer metrics like change in brand perception, retention or CLV that better align with business objectives. Yes, we still need to measure CTRs, but this data should only be used in combination with other metrics to deliver the valuable insight marketers need to make informed decisions.

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Five Online Trends Marketers Should Focus On.

With almost half of 2009 and hopefully the worst of the economy behind us, its time to focus on the online trends that matter. Put your Facebook and Twitter strategy aside and focus on:

  • Interactivity: Organizations need to really internalize what it means to be interactive and leverage the specific strengths of interactive channels for all marketing programs and consumer touch points. Interactive marketers need to push best practices across the entire organization to ensure a positive experience for consumers changing behaviors and expectations.
  • Measurement: Consumers increasing cross-channel behavior will force marketers to improve their measurement capabilities. Consumers move across a variety of online and offline channels throughout their purchase process. In order to accurately determine the effectiveness of marketing spend, influence future investment or identify which programs to cut, measurement needs a cross-cannel upgrade.
  • Consolidation: With the proliferation of marketing channels, organizations have acquired a variety of separate vendor/agency relationships for their search, email, social and mobile marketing efforts. Marketers need to tear down the internal and external walls separating channels to reduce the number of profit centers and infighting, create a media neutral approach and improve cross-channel integration.
  • Governance: The talk in 2008 was that marketing’s needed to release control of their brands, that consumers now owned the brands and there was nothing you could do about it. It is exactly because of that shift in control that marketers need to better manage brand communications through the issuance of governance policies and procedures for employees and increased vigilance through brand monitoring tools and technologies.
  • Analytics: For years now marketers have been collecting data through CRM systems, web analytics platforms, experiential marketing campaigns, etc. Marketers now need to integrate disparate data sources from around the organization and enhance their analytical capabilities to help improve targeting, enhance consumer insights and promote a more comprehensive view of the customer.

Attribution solutions still fall short.

The topic of attribution has been gaining steam as ad servers like DoubleClick and Microsoft’s Atlas, and Web site analytics providers like Coremetrics and Omniture have developed solutions to more accurately attribute influence across various online touch points. But let’s not pat ourselves on the back so soon.

These solutions exist in an online silo, rely on attribution rules and algorithms that need maturation, and ignore important consumer generated influencers like customer reviews. As a result, they only provide marketers with an incremental improvement to online measurement, still ignoring the majority of consumer’s media consumption (TV, Radio, Print) and offline influencer’s contribution in the purchase path.

The multitasking and cross-channel behavior of today’s consumer exposes the limitations of these online attribution solutions. The real solution lies in a clear understanding of consumers’ cross-channel behavior through the marketing funnel, programs aligned to business objectives and metrics that measure every touch point’s contribution through this journey.