Even though I frequently use them (and I use them for good – I swear), I have also been known to call out adwords and cookie-based tracking as “creepy” and “stalker-like”. Don’t get me wrong – when I have visited Sephora and clicked away to another site and immediately receive an ad for 20% off my next Sephora order, well, let’s just say that is marketing I’m happy to see and click on. Done right, ads can be great for the consumer and not just creepy and weird.
However, at one time I worked for a company that made thousands of dollars a month on ads. The targeting was extremely broad (meaning the ads were random and mostly just noise and spam) and yet it was still a steady revenue stream. At roughly .04 cents per click paid, it was a lot of clicks. I could never make sense of it. Until….
One day in an informal, random survey via Twitter and Facebook, I asked people if they click on paid search ads. You know, that beige-y box at the top if you do a Google search from your desktop. The one that clearly says “ad” on it. I had the most amazing responses: some people don’t even see the ads – they have trained their eye to go to the first listing in the white space (unpaid search result). A few people said they clicked if it was what they were really looking for – a specific site or brand. And then there were several people who said they clicked on the ad if they wanted to make the company pay. If it was a brand they did not like, they would click on the ad just so the company had to fork over some cash.
And then I realized – I’ve done the same thing without realizing it. Somewhere in the back of my head I must have been thinking about this because I started to notice the drift of the mouse to the beige-y area anytime it was a brand I didn’t like but needed to deal with, when it was a “bad” company or spammy organization….
So now I know. That previous company was making bank selling ads to people who might very well have been clicking just to “make someone ay” and wasn't really accomplishing much for the advertisers.
The point here? Marketing ads can be great but you have to target your audience and give them a reason to click on your ad – versus giving them a reason to “make you pay”.