You’re More Likely to Be Bitten by a Shark Than Click This Post

February 20, 2018

In recent years, the “you’re more likely to X than click a display ad” sentiment has been so overused in advertising circles that it’s closing in on meme status. The narrative is often used to prop up an alternative online tactic, like native advertising, or take down digital marketing, and sometimes paid media altogether.

There’s always room to debate something as complicated as marketing and no two brands are identical – what works for one might not work for another. But the click argument is at best disingenuous, and at worst, deliberately misleading.

If you want to discredit digital marketing, banners are an easy target for many reasons, but they are simply one vehicle, and suggesting they represent digital media is a major stretch. In 2016, search represented 53% of digital spend and display only 35% (IAB Canada), but it’s more difficult to go after search, arguably the tactic with the easiest to prove ROI and most cut and dry performance.

But if you are going to beat up on banners, at least find something more relevant than the likelihood an audience will intentionally click one. Many marketers have known for years that equating banners with CTR is snake oil, and that optimizing banners for clicks is an admission you don’t really care who sees the ads as long as you satisfy vanity campaign metrics that likely have nothing to do with your actual marketing objectives.

It’s like hating on radio for poor recall scores of your visual rebrand or restobar out of home for building low awareness against under 18.

So let’s bring this meme into the current decade, shall we? Here, I’ll start:

  • You’re more likely to flip tails than have the majority of your impressions viewable on an open exchange programmatic buy.
  • You’re more likely to have netflix in your home than to run a completely brand-safe campaign on Google display.

Dang, those suck. Thanks for clicking?