The Click-Through War

Posted on by Chief Marketer Staff

Who’s got the better click-through rate on Web banner advertising-Flycast or DoubleClick? And should anyone even care?

In March, RelevantKnowledge, Chicago, which surveys Web users, conducted the first audit of advertising network Flycast Communications Corp., San Francisco. The 350-site network reached 32% of the U.S. Web audience, with visits from 17.9 million unique users.

The click-through rate on banner ads at Flycast’s sites was 1.9%. Flycast CEO Miles Walsh says that’s twice the industry average and twice that of New York-based industry leader DoubleClick Inc. Walsh cites a study showing an overall industry click-through rate of 0.86%. He cites others claiming that in July 1997 DoubleClick had an average click-through rate of 0.96%, down from 1.93% in September 1996.

But DoubleClick president Kevin Ryan says these numbers are way off. “They have no idea what our click-through rate is, and we have no idea what theirs is,” he says.

Ryan says click-throughs are not the crucial metric anyway. “Click-through is one criterion but it’s not the only one. Sometimes you have a lower click-through rate with higher-income individuals. You can’t generalize across 1,000 clients. Non-U.S. countries have a higher click-through rate, but if you’re not selling your products internationally, does that matter to you?”

Walsh says the relatively low click-through rates are evidence that the Web is closer to direct marketing than traditional marketing, where the more consumers are exposed to an ad, the more likely they are to buy. “With the Web it’s the exact opposite,” Walsh says. “If someone sees a banner three times and still hasn’t clicked, the odds are almost certain they won’t click.”


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