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What makes people Click

AdSense ads

     
4:47 pm on Sep 9, 2006 (gmt 0)

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For the life of me I'm still clueless when it comes to the mental state of a person clicking on AdSense ads.

General off the top of my head possibilities:

1- Compelling on topic or Relevant supplemental information
2- They don't know it's an ad (well "blended")
3- They know it's an ad but want to get the hell out (MFA)
4- Just boredom

Has anyone made a serious study on why people click on text ads? For every reason except (1) smells like SmartPricing trouble.

How can a webmaster find out without calling "undue" attention to ads?

4:59 pm on Sept 9, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Not on topic or relevant, but interesting none the less.

There's a rather off topic ad that occasionally shows on my site. It seems to get a very high CTR simply because it is on a topic of general interest. It pays fairly well too.

5:09 pm on Sept 9, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Quoting from the TV series Kung Fu:

"To truly know why people click, we must first understand how people tick."

5:10 pm on Sept 9, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I would say it is actually 1 & 4 in combination for the most part.

I have watched my girfriend click around, sometines she is heavy looking for something (on a mission) or cruising around reading(killing time) and spots something interesting out of the corner of her eye on a publishing site. She clicks organic results as much as Google search ads and doesen't favor either. She buys when she finds what she wants and surfs with her credit card out. We bought most of the stuff in the kitchen and most of the deco in the house online, easily over $1,000 of items in the past few months

Ocassionally she clicks a directory MFA and I tell her not to click anything and hit the back button. I explain to her that she is aiding and abetting the enemy. I would say about one out of 5 times she clicks it anyway just out of pure compulsion.

[edited by: Khensu at 5:11 pm (utc) on Sep. 9, 2006]

6:03 pm on Sept 9, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I don't think there's too much that can be said that's helpful from an AdSense publisher's prespective. It depends on the person and their current mood and goals, the website, and the ad itself.

It requires a pretty low degree of interest in order to click a link, but the one thing that IS important is that people have to look at the ad and read it before they will click on it. So blending is a good thing up to the point that people need to interact with the ad block rather than mentally filtering it out.

But I don't feel the need to go beyond that, to design anything obstructive or deceptive, and I think you're right that if this is what's driving your clicks then smart pricing will probably hit you anyways.

6:28 pm on Sept 9, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I agree with you jomaxx, knowing what makes people click appears to carry no immediate consequence to a current publisher, but our whole business model is tied to this very action. I for one would very much like to have this information at the back of my mind when planning a new section, topic or site, helps me understand my visitors more, I know all else about them except this little black hole that makes me money and I am not allowed to poll my visitors about, or know (with certainty) which ad they clicked.
6:35 pm on Sept 9, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Remember that there's an awful lot of individuals out there. Understanding what makes most of them click/tick is obviously valuable - but there will always be individuals who go against the crowd.
2:37 am on Sept 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Has anyone made a serious study on why people click on text ads?

I'm sure Google has spent milions on this exact subject. Personally, I figure people click on text ads more because it looks like content. For me a blended ad block has a much higher CTR so this would seem to support that theory... but how long will that last?

3:47 am on Sept 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

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My site gives visitors a brief writeup about many topics in a broad niche. I am not a specialist (won't claim to be) but I am a sort of jack-of-all-trades. Definitely not an authority site, but I know someone is looking for something specific when there is a marked spike in number of clicks. There are no shortage of ads in my niche which can actually lead a visitor to click tens of ads in one session.

Traffic is coming from targetted keywords so I know exactly why my visitors are clicking my ads.

4:08 am on Sept 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

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People click on ads for the same reason that some people will buy cigarettes or the same reason why people buy white bread or the same reason why grab their remote control and click on a certain channel...because they are basically stoopid!

Goofle takes advantage of the millions who are coming onto the internet and clicking blindly...this mode of user cannot sustain the PPC model...the current users are either ripe with fraudulent intensions or completely clueless.

Once I told my girlfriend what the ads were and she signed up for adsense she wouldn't dare click on an adsense ad no matter where she saw it and in fact she became even more suspicious of any cluster of links!

Come on now...I'm just kidding about this! I don't care why they click really!

4:32 am on Sept 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

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"because they are basically stoopid!
Goofle takes advantage of "

Excellent stuff. So can we say the number of stupid people on the net are increasing every week?

We webmasters are stupid, if we underestimate our customers. Most are quite smart and looking for information to research a product or service. In India, esp, many surf the net to compare products, understand what is available and then many a times buy the product offline. That is why I think the concept of smart pricing is crap. 'Branding' is equally important on the net as I see it.

The ads on the websites also 'complement' the initial search string of the surfer and provide a logical way for him/her to proceed further in his/her inquiry. This logical 'path' may lead to a sale offline or online and reflects the basic 'need' of the surfer at a particular time.

Not all advertisers may be able to get the first page of the google organic results or the 1-3 position on the paid results so 'content match' should be an important consideration. It is for me. As an adWords advertiser, 'content' is very important for me. For Branding and for cheap clicks.

4:43 am on Sept 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Why do they clicks ads?

Maybe because they want to buy something the ad represents?

4:50 am on Sept 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

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people don't click only because of point 2,3 or 4. the ad must still contain something that interests the user somehow.
unless accidental: click = interest.
so the particular ad resp. link text is the decisive factor. for example, among other things to click on you have an adsense block that contains different ads. in any case, the user has a choice between several exit options. so even if he is inattentive, bored or wants to get the hell out he will in most cases click the link (be it one of your adsense ads) that is at least percieved as the least unappealing.

<sidenote>
to understand what ads make people click, you need to investigate what are the best performing ads. although our methods to do this are limited, it is naturally detectable. so which ads have the highest overall click rate?

- ads that contain a general or tailor-made topic
- with a short compelling ad text
- that promise a clear benefit

prime example:
widgets
everything about widgets, low priced and in large choice!

sounds familiar? always remember when putting this kind of ads into your filter list. no matter what your topic is, they are paying minimum, but people click on them like crazy. that's why they appear in your ad blocks!
but generally, imo the question "which people click" is far more interesting, because this would further explain the success of certain ads on some websites.
</sidenote>

[edited by: moTi at 5:21 am (utc) on Sep. 10, 2006]

5:09 am on Sept 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Goofle takes advantage of the millions who are coming onto the internet and clicking blindly

Phew! thank goodness it's not Google!
Mebbe they're clicking the ads for the same reason : accident?

just joking ;)

7:07 am on Sept 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I feel people click for the following reasons

1. If your page is content rich and they like to go for more.

2. If they get something for FREE

3. If they find the caption of the ad attractive

4. If they genuinly need to buy something

5. If they trust your site they feel the ads are also genuine.

8:12 am on Sept 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Good points chikung, but I smell trouble with number 5!

Maybe this question is best asked in our neighboring AdWords forum.

12:15 pm on Sept 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Something else just occurred to me:

As more people take to surfing by mouse alone, they would start their surfing journey at a portal or by typing a keyword into Google, sit back and click through without using the keyboard for a long time, mouse surfing could me a major contributor to your traffic and earnings, add into the formula a wireless mouse, and the earnings contribution per visitor could be multiplied by ten. Makes sense? Expect wireless mice to be given away for free very soon, and I should add a new reason for clicks:

5- Plain old laziness

Now combine laziness with compelling content, good blending, boredom and you have an explosive formula, imagine clickers swarming around your ads like ants, now what's left is to figure out a way to make money from that, your navigation, blending, cross linking, content distribution, I am smelling money.

1:39 pm on Sept 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

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With the list, I am interested to learn, which kind of clicks really generate "value", I mean ultimately contribute to the system that support the advertisers ROI, publisher earnings etc...
1:44 pm on Sept 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Now you're talking SmartPricing which comes after the click, I was hoping to understand the anatomy of the click first.
2:27 pm on Sept 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I think it's a combination of 1 and 2. People click on a link because it's interesting to them, but they don't always know it's an ad.
8:49 pm on Sept 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

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The only reason I click a google ad (NOT my own, of course!) is because it looks interesting to me... either it's on a topic I'm interested in, or it is an ad for a product I might want to buy.

9:22 pm on Sept 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

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As more people take to surfing by mouse alone

Am I missing something here?

Sure I know lots of keyboard shortcuts etc however I have yet to see one Joe Public surfer NOT using a mouse!

People look gone out at me when they see me using keyboard strokes since most don't know they exist.

Or is everyone "mouse lazy" where I go?

9:26 pm on Sept 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Here's another observation to throw in the equation: the number of sites in a given topic that display AS ads. Let me explain with a real life example.

One of my topics in the healthcare field is populated with many websites, but many (I'd say most, but I can't prove it) of them are government and non-profit orgs. Hence, many of the sites in this topic display no advertising. When someone arrives at a site with AS (such as mine), I think a "uniqueness" factor comes into play, which enhances the ads' performance. At least in my case, it seems so. These pages deliver CTRs in the high-20's/low 30's, which is very nice, in my experience. The avg eCPM is high also, in the 40-50's.

On the reverse side, I have a few ventures into well-saturated AS markets. A real-estate topic of mine draws a fine audience, but delivers a CTR about one-third of the health care. I think the fact someone surfing real-estate sites is constantly seeing AS ads contributes to the lower CTR. So I guess I'm suggesting there's a factor related to a site's topic and AS overkill/underkill. I know we have all mentioned "ad blindness" before, but I haven't seen it used in the context of topic specific factor.

If you disagree with this idea, fine with me. I would be the first to admit there could be other factors in play here, and this is just a guess based on one person's experience.

9:31 pm on Sept 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Sorry, but wanted to add another point: trust.

There are times when an ad is easily recognized as coming from a respected authority. This must be a factor to anyone who hasn't found what they are looking for.

2:48 am on Sept 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Let us not count the clicks that are generated by the well blended text advertisement. Many of the clicks may be generated just by misunderstanding as they are merged with the original contetnt. I guess we are talking about the clicks which are genuinly generated for more information or buying.
2:52 am on Sept 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Let us not count the clicks that are generated by the well blended text advertisement. Many of the clicks may be generated just by misunderstanding as they are merged with the original contetnt. I guess we are talking about the clicks which are genuinly generated for more information or buying.

Sometimes I wonder. People decide to click, they are't forced to... isn't it possible that when ads are blended well, it means users actually look at them, instead of ignoring them as ads?

So many times I just ignore adblocks, but when I pause to look at them, sometimes I'm interested in a product.

So clicking on very well blended ads may be less "mistake", and more of users actually pausing to see the ads.

3:22 am on Sept 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

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With respect to ads on a publishers site, I think that compelling targetted ad text is the biggest driver, followed closely by being well blended to the point that the visitor thinks they are simply navigating through the site.

With respect to actual SERP ads, I think Google and the other search engines have been training their users to click the ads for years now. By delivering mediocre to poor natural (free) search results people eventually will try the paid ads and usually have better luck finding what they were looking for. The paid ads are naturally going to be better quality sites because the advertiser isn't going to waste money driving people to a site that doesn't deliver. Eventually the paid ads become the "default" choice when searching because they have historically worked better for the searcher.

Freq---

3:22 am on Sept 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

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"People decide to click, they are't forced to... isn't it possible that when ads are blended well, it means users actually look at them, instead of ignoring them as ads? "

The very purpose of well blended advertisement is to merge the ads with the content and to make psychological impact so the visitors may think its a part of the contect. So for the fraction of second even if they know it is ad, they click.

I must repeat here that its not the case for all but may be with significant percentage.

What I want to say is, why not count the pure advertisement with NO blending and check it why people clik them.

6:42 am on Sept 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

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So let's recap, what we have so far:

1- Compelling on topic or Relevant supplemental information
2- They don't know it's an ad (well "blended")
3- They know it's an ad but want to get the hell out (MFA)
4- Just boredom
5- Laziness (not wanting to type new terms in the search)
6- Novelty factor (opposite of ad blindness) not used to seeing ads in a specific topic or new to the net.
7- Trust (Advertiser brand recognition or publisher trust)
8- Lack of other content like in MFA, or when the page is off topic but the ads are on topic.

6:44 am on Sept 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Sorry, but wanted to add another point: trust.

There are times when an ad is easily recognized as coming from a respected authority. This must be a factor to anyone who hasn't found what they are looking for.

Trust in what? The fact that google have accepted you as an advertiser so you must be a good guy. Get real. G is in this to make money pure and simple and they don't care about the quality of ad, the quality of advertiser or (in some cases) the quality of the publisher.

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