Does Advertising Have “A Banking-Industry-Size Fraud Problem”…Or Do Your Metrics?

A recent blog post on made a rather bold and damning statement regarding today’s advertising and marketing landscape…immediately from the outset.

“Advertising Has A Banking-Industry-Size Fraud Problem,” proclaimed the headline.

In the blog, author Oliver Jacob, the co-founder and CEO of display advertising provider Vantage Local, claimed that “local advertisers are more susceptible than ever to deceptive digital agency practices.”

Jacob went on to specifically cite the “deception” that can be perpetuated via click-through rate, commonly referred to as CTR, saying:

“The metric commonly used to gauge success in local display advertising today, click-through rate (CTR), can be easily manipulated to provide the illusion of success, leading local advertisers to believe that their campaign is performing well.”

Jacob then goes on to outline and undress such things as display “awareness campaigns,” which he proclaims as “rife with chicanery,” and how these practices and metrics can “seriously degrade the advertiser’s brand.”

It’s a fascinating and bold post, certainly one worth taking some time to read and think about. We highly recommend you give it a gander. If for no other reason than Jacob’s clever use of fantastic and increasingly all-too-rare words such as “chicanery.”

This excellent blog post also highlights and illuminates yet another reason why using the proper metrics to determine the success of an advertising campaign – and in a larger sense, the success of your business – is so vitally important.

If the metric can easily be “bought” or manipulated – if it seems even remotely like it might be considered a “fraud” – then there’s a good chance it’s not the metric you should be utilizing to judge your campaign’s effectiveness.

Take CTR, for example.

CTR certainly has its place in the sun, but ultimately it is a diagnostic metric, used to compare one or more parts of a given campaign – much like, say, creative effectiveness. It’s NOT the true mark of a successful advertising campaign. Not at all. Not even close.

If you think about it, claiming that your advertising campaign is a smashing success because of a high CTR would be a bit like bragging about how powerfully your new sports car performs…because it has really shiny rims.

This is a big part of why we and our valued partners at Always On Communications don’t use CTR as a success metric – and why we press our clients for a more truly “conversion-based” success metric.

We addressed this in a recent blog post here at the official blog of Amplitude Digital, where we outlined how we have been reminding our clients for years of the need to have at least some sort of “direct response” conversion as part of their online campaigns – even if their overall marketing goal is to raise or enhance awareness.

We also covered some of these topics in another earlier blog post, stating our position that while we do indeed value diagnostic metrics such as CTR (and Facebook “likes”, and Twitter “followers”), KPIs are truly where it’s at when it comes to measuring, achieving and maintaining true success and growth for you and your business.

You know, things like sales. Revenue. Brand awareness. Whatever KPIs are decided upon by your business, they should reflect your goals, be vital to your success, and be truly quantifiable and measurable. They should also be long-term considerations, clearly defined up front and firmly maintained over the years.

They certainly need to be stronger, longer-lasting, deeper and more tangible than something like CTR. Or, say, “engagement.” Companies, brands and businesses who refuse to learn this seemingly universal, obvious and timeless lesson are destined to find themselves enjoying a cacophony of clicks and the pseudo-connection that flows from a “strong engagement”…while they slowly go the way of the dinosaur. And the computer mouse.

So when it comes to evaluating your advertising and marketing campaigns in particular, and your business as a whole, don’t make the grave mistake of blindly and stubbornly following fraudulent metrics.

And contact us today if you want some more sound, solid, easily-applied advice on succeeding in today’s sometimes-sketchy digital marketing environment.