Sunday, 28 October 2012

Dead Air More Effective Than Facebook Ads

The broadcast industry has a term called "dead air." It occurs when there's a
mistake or a technical glitch that results in no audio on radio, or no picture
on a TV screen. A blank TV screen is "dead air." In an absolutely
astounding experiment, the banner advertising equivalent of dead air -- a blank
display ad -- performed better than the average Facebook ad; twice as good as
the average "branding" display ad; and only one click in ten thousand worse than
the average of all display ads. Here are the details. AdAge
this week has a piece called How Blank Display Ads Managed to Tot Up Some Impressive Numbers.
The article was written by Ted McConnell, exec VP-digital for the Advertising
Research Foundation. Ted and a few friends (an astrophysicist from an
online analytics firm, a measurement expert from the Advertising Research
Foundation, and an ad-platform wizard from a buying and optimization company)
decided to do an experiment. The experiment was designed to discover how much
clicking of banner advertising was actual engagement with the ad, and how much
was just noise -- people clicking for no reason. To do this they created
a unique ad -- an ad with no message. A blank. According to McConnell...
"We created six blank ads in three IAB standard sizes, and two colors, white and orange. We
trafficked the ads via a demand-side platform (DSP) with a low bid. We started with run of
exchange, and in another phase trafficked to "named publishers" that would accept unaudited
copy." Here are the results:

The click-through rate on the blank ads was .08%. According to published
reports, the click-through rate on the average Facebook ad is about .05%. The
blank ad performed 60% better.
The click through rate for the blank ad was about double the average
click-through rate for a "branding" display ad (an ad without an offer.)
The click-through rate on the average banner ad is .09%. This means the
blank ad drew one click in ten thousand fewer than an average banner ad.
About .04% of the clicks were mistakes. Since the average click-through rate
for display ads is .09%, this indicates that it is possible that as much as 44%
of banner ad clicks are mistakes. The astounding thing is that with all
the data Facebook is collecting, all the geniuses we have analyzing display ad
results, all the space-age targeting we are constantly being beaten over the
head with, and all the young creative prodigies lecturing us on the magic of
online advertising, empty ads outperformed our online geniuses.
You simply cannot make this shit up.

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