Yesterday I talked to someone at one of the leading European digital magazines. They were very excited with the performance of two of the adverts in the the latest issue, which had generated impressive click stats in only the first day of publication.
I’m never shy about stealing other people’s good ideas, so immediately went to find out whether I could see the same spark of creative genius driving the outstanding results in both adverts. It took a matter of seconds to realise that the adverts themselves weren’t brilliant, but rather the clicks were due to the fact that the entire area of the advert was clickable.
Now this isn’t new – a typical online banner or other display advert responds to a click anywhere within the ad’s boundaries. In the electronics industry, however, the larger format ads in digital magazines tend to have links on buttons or specific text – much like you’d see on a web page.
So why the outstanding results? I’m pretty sure a lot of the clicks are due to people wanting to click to turn the page who accidentally click on the advert. Whilst I’m sure the ad agencies responsible are excitedly telling their client what a great job they have done, I hope that the client is monitoring the quality of those clicks and tracking the actions taken by people hitting the landing page. I suspect the bounce rate might be rather high!
Now of course I’m not saying doing this is wrong. If this technique becomes commonplace, however, we’ll have to deal with the problems it generates. Simply maximising clicks by playing tricks on the reader is fooling yourself – you’ll get poor quality visitors to your site, you’ll risk annoying potential customers and you won’t know which adverts work best. Publishers will soon find that accidental clicks on this type of advertising makes reading digital magazines a painful process. Let’s hope that everyone has sufficient common sense to resist the temptation to chase clicks at the expense of effective advertising.