Do ‘clicks’ sell product?

Since the first banner ad in 1994 asked users to click “right here,” clicks have been the go to measure of success online. However, clicks are a poor indicator of how successful a marketing campaign really is. For example, a customer may have seen 10 digital ads before purchasing.  By measuring clicks, you can’t definitely attribute 100 percent of credit to any one of those individual ads. This makes it very difficult to determine which ad to mirror in the future.

Many marketers are still focused on the wrong metrics with no ability to show the effectiveness of their campaigns.


The pay-per-click model made sense because clicks provide solid proof that a user responded to an ad. This model allows marketers to analyze the on-site behavior of said users.

In the ideal scenario, a consumer sees an ad for a sweater, clicks on it, and buys it online. Even so, a consumer can view the ad, think about it for a week, look at other sweater ads and then forget about the sweater altogether. Later, he/she visits the site and buys the sweater. It could have been a combinations of online ads and billboards that sent the consumer down the purchase funnel.

Many advertisers assume that because the ad was clicked, it achieved the positive outcome. This is confusing correlation with causation.

Lift measurements

Randomized control trial (RCT) is the best way to measure success. The preferred method of RCT is a geographic lift. In this scenario,  one region is put in a treatment group and shown TV commercials or billboard ads.  Another similar region acts as the control group and isn’t shown any advertising. If sales jump for the treatment group compared to the control group, then the campaigns were successful.

For example,  McDonald’s can run TV commercials in Cincinnati for its McRib sandwich but not run them in Cleveland. If they found that sales were up 20 percent in Cincinnati versus Cleveland, then they can assume that the commercials prompted that increase.

Lift in the digital world

Truly randomization is the biggest advantage of measuring by lift. By using lift measurement in the digital world, advertisers will be able to receive a more accurate result of the success of their ads.