Friday, April 25, 2008

Quality of Click

This post comes after some time, but then I didn’t have much to write about for some time. I was thinking on writing on US recession and its impact on internet VC market. But lately I read this piece from businessweek on the VCs being consistent on web spends which is very heartening.

Also Google did well in Q1 to raise sentiments of US stock markets, so it shows it is much better scenario for the online industry in the tough US market. Also a PWC report indicated better payouts for internet related investments. But the real inspiration for writing this post came from a quote from Scott Adams, from the Dilbert principle about marketing:

“Marketing people do not screw customers; they just hold them down so that the sales can screw them”

Being a marketing person for most of my career, I was really amused. Sometime back comscore reported that Google’s clicks went down by 3% in February, month on month and have not grown since last year. On this news, Google stocks went down by some 15 dollars (if I remember right, but it went down for sure). Now Google has been arguing for some time on raising quality of clicks, also part of my last post with Google being able to use double-click information and raise the standards of behavioral targeting. Google plans to make more money/click by increasing the quality of clicks for the advertisers. Now on similar lines, I had a chat with someone on internet not being perceived as a brand building medium.

Here is how I converge all this, stay with me folks, and fasten your seatbelts. Worldwide Internet industry and advertisers alike are taking the route of quality of clicks or action on the internet than the quantity of it. This is a bit different from the euphoria of performance marketing. The key is quality, which comes from relevancy, which comes from two things, one being contextual and second being a credible source. In simple terms customers would like to click something:

1. Which is right on my way as I am looking for it

2. Which sounds like a credible product/service to be

The quality of clicks means better results for advertisers as well as for the customers. But people who are euphoric about CTRs and number of clicks, and click buys only, or acquisition deals only can really make the mistake of loosing money in Internet marketing.

Now not everyone wants brand building on the internet, like a personal loans or a home loans campaign, which yours truly ran with considerable success on CPM, PPC and click buys across all Internet media. I was not running a brand building campaign, I was busy getting leads for personal loans. But then can you do the same for a fixed deposit plan or a savings account plan, Nah!! Why, simple, you will take loan form anyone, I mean anyone, as you are taking money, but if you have to put money in a safe place, will you give it to anyone, Nopes!! If bank pays 9% and I pay 10%, will you leave your money with me, Never!

What is a car manufacturer doing on the net, has to be brand building of some sought, maybe in terms of recall of product features, new technology etc, but it seems lot of these are buying clicks. What is an Insurance company doing buying clicks by the dozen, without checking on target audience and the communication on the banners. Why are so many other people trying to do, that is buying clicks randomly, who are not selling personal loans, not classified portals, not online travel portals and so on….. I think it is lot of waste of marketing dollars and even more killing the credibility of Internet as a fantastic brand building medium. To some level agencies also have to take the blame for mapping all campaigns in the same light as of performance campaigns. This is killing the role of media planning, targeting and strategy on the online medium. We can many great success case studies, but still I would like people to visit the love guru promo on youtube, I think it is very well done:

All in all better planning, targeting and creativity can really lend amazing brand building benefits to advertisers. Internet is not equal to clicks and performance marketing. Even as the internet industry looks at increasing top lines, the idea will start from improving the quality of the click. I will end with another great quote from Scott Adams, all in light spirits, LoLz I just love Dilbert:

"We can't compete on price. We also can't compete on quality, features or service. That leaves fraud, for which I'd like you to call marketing."