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Kicking the Click-Through Addiction: a B2B marketing view


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Overcome the CTR dependency with these three proactive measures from B2B marketing experts

Three years ago, IAB UK took a stand on behalf of the digital marketing community and launched its first National Anti-Click-Through Rate Day (2019). Many of us in the industry are familiar with the harm that can be caused by measuring success based only on click-through rates. Unfortunately, despite IAB UK’s efforts, this practice remains rife in boardrooms and marketing offices up and down the country. This blog explores some of the problems that CTR dependency can cause, and suggests three proactive measures for breaking free of this bad habit.

Can’t kick the click-through addiction?

We know that measuring click-through is a bad habit, but there are many reasons it can be hard to give up. Do any of these sound familiar?

“It’s hard to imagine marketing without it.”

“I’m not sure about more useful alternatives.”

“It’s so convenient to compare against other metrics.”

How can we help?

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution or alternative to CTR, but if we want to start changing the industry’s behaviour we can: start a conversation, ask questions, challenge preconceptions, and find new ways for measuring success. So, we’ll share our point of view, and perhaps we can help others to adopt a better approach to digital marketing measurement.

CTR: a barrier to connection

Whether you’re running brand campaigns or demand gen, you’re looking to develop a connection with your target audience. The aim of B2B marketing is to start a conversation, tell people about your brand and show them how you can solve their business challenges.

The user journey is long – often taking 18 months or more – and a single click is a million miles away from a closed deal. That’s why B2B advertisers must focus on generating high-quality inbound traffic, rather than high numbers. You can drive thousands of clicks using a media channel or strategy that delivers high CTR, but all too often these might not be the clicks your business needs.

What if the engagement on site is low, and the bounce rate is high? Would you consider this media channel or strategy a success? Hopefully not. If you’re only focusing on CTR, it could lead you to invest more time and effort into what is effectively a dead-end for ROI.

On the other hand, you might pause a channel or strategy that shows a low CTR. But if you don’t consider all the relevant metrics, and you don’t look beyond how the users engaged with your ad in order to see how they engage with your website, you might be turning away high-quality traffic. Having a handful of users from your target audience engaging with your content and spending time on your site is surely more important than seeing “> 0.10% CTR” on your Excel report.

Adopting a more nuanced approach

Brands must consider the impact of online advertising across all users, including the 99.85% of those who have been exposed to the campaign but did not click. We have to appreciate that the media landscape has evolved. Now we can buy media channels using models that focus on cost-per-click (CPC) or cost-per-completed view (CPCV), for example.

In the case of a CPCV buying model, all we want is for users to watch that brand’s video – we don’t ask them to take action, so looking at CTR is irrelevant. Whereas if you’re buying on a CPC basis, you’re guaranteed the number of clicks. Here, having a high number of impressions can only be beneficial for your brand. So even though your CTR may drop, would that be a problem?

Remember, each impression is showing your brand to your target audience. And although they might not act on it immediately, that doesn’t mean they never will. Also, we mustn’t underestimate the importance of impressions for indirect conversions. Are you tracking post-view-through conversions? It will be lower than post-click conversions, of course, but is it not more valuable to have a user see your ads and visit your site organically, rather than merely having a high CTR?

Three proactive measures you can take

As a B2B media agency, we highly recommend that our clients track engagement on page, but this entails more than simply looking at Google Analytics data. Before launching a campaign, it’s crucial to set the right objective(s) and strategy, but also to ensure that you have agreed on relevant KPIs. Then, you set up your campaign in a way that enables reporting on those KPIs.

Depending on what you intend to measure, there’s a wealth of measurement and tracking solutions available:

  1. Brand studiesConducting surveys to compare your brand’s position before and after a specific campaign will require extra investment and time, but in the long run it can be exceptionally valuable. Here the insight gained from qualitative data can help you allocate your marketing budget with much more efficiency. Also, there are now more and more accessible, budget-friendly types of brand surveys that can be used.
  2. Attribution modelling: Casting a wide net of technical KPIs will enable you to start making a full funnel analysis, rather than a very narrow one. For example, you could enhance individual webpages using floodlight tags to reveal more information about how visitors are engaging with the content of your site. Combining a broad range of data such as these will enable an attribution modelling approach that can capture a much more detailed understanding of what’s really going on in your customer journey.
  3. Attention data: Newer players to the market are using metrics that focus on ad attention, which sometimes use eye tracking data from an opted in panel. These are quickly being pushed to the fore with growing numbers of agencies and brands now reporting on a much wider scope of metrics. Attention data can be used for planning, but also measurement of ads, allowing advertisers to enhance their models from end-to-end based on actual user behaviour. 

What about CTR in moderation?

We’re not suggesting you should throw out CTR as a metric altogether. As part of a balanced KPI strategy, it can occasionally be insightful. Take social sponsored posts for example. As before, a post with a high CTR might not deliver the best performance. However, what that high CTR does show is that it’s caught the audience’s attention more effectively than another social post with a lower CTR.

Now, there’s an opportunity to dig deeper – don’t simply pause the posts with lowest CTR, instead look to see which creative approach was taken for the post with the highest CTR, and incorporate that. We can consider: what elements performed best? Was it copy, or visual style, for example? How can this insight be used to increase clicks on the post that generated higher engagement on site?  

Overcoming reliance on CTR

Although there’s no one-size-fits-all alternative to CTR as a KPI, we do have a recommendation that every brand can apply, regardless of whether it’s B2B or B2C: Always take extra care to set the right objectives for your brand before you launch your marketing campaign.

Make sure that you’re employing a strategic approach that can be measured using relevant KPIs, which have been agreed on ahead of time. Setting up your campaign correctly to allow the right tracking will always require more time and effort, but this is the key to unlocking successful measurement of your digital marketing efforts. And it can provide you with valuable information and insight that will help to break an unhealthy reliance on CTR.


Reach out to us if you'd like to continue the conversation.

By Emilie Bordbar-Ordekani and Sarah Cowan, Media Account Director and Programmatic Insight & Strategy Planning Lead

twogether Creative Ltd & Encore Digital Media

twogether is a multi award-winning, global, 100% B2B technology marketing agency. And the only one that delivers a total service, fully-integrated, in-house.

To bring your technology to life. twogether. As one.

Encore Digital Media is a specialist B2B programmatic partner. 

Posted on: Friday 11 February 2022