Many leading brand advertisers could be wasting up to 90% of their online advertising budget – and causing mistrust and frustration amongst users – because of misleading adverts that make the user click-through by accident, according to new research from the team at Bunnyfoot.
In user-testing involving 60 people, we found that almost 9 out of 10 click-throughs for a leading UK brand’s pop-over advertisement (rich media adverts that appear in the browser, over the main content) were made by mistake because the ‘close’ button was so difficult to find. The brand in question has claimed a 20% click-through rate for the campaign, but our research suggests a more believable 2% success rate.
The testing revealed that users took an average of 59 seconds to close the advertisement – significantly higher than the average close rate for pop-overs (2.5 seconds) identified in previous Bunnyfoot research – and demonstrative of the difficulty which users had in trying to close the advert.
The implication for brand advertisers is significant. With the fight for eyeballs becoming so much more difficult, and as consumers become switched off by pop-overs, many brands are increasingly using trickery such as hiding the close button or making ads difficult to navigate to encourage click-through. We would warn companies thinking of doing the same, however, that brands are wasting huge amounts of money by paying for inaccurate click-throughs, and beyond that are engendering mistrust and frustration in users.
Rob Stevens, Head of Business Behaviour at Bunnyfoot (2004) comments:
“Trickery and confusing design in pop-over adverts is becoming an alarmingly increasing trend. Achieving an over-inflated click-through rate might help brands to justify their spend, but they are only deceiving themselves. The brand that we used in our research study is not only wasting up to 90% of its budget by paying for unintentional click-throughs, it is also frustrating and deceiving users. They’re not alone though; lots of brands are doing it. They are not just wasting money, they are undoubtedly undermining the integrity of their brand. Our advice is to always test any advert on real users first – you’d be surprised what a simple user-test can highlight.”
The research was carried out in June 2004, as a follow-up to a white paper entitled ‘The Efficacy of Pop-Ups and the Resulting Effect on Brands’ published by Bunnyfoot in February of the same year. The white paper found that using pop-ups is tantamount to commercial suicide for brands. Download the paper for free here: The Efficacy of Pop-Ups
Notes to Editors
The research was carried out by Bunnyfoot in June 2004, using a sample of 60 internet users of varying experience. The testing involved Bunnyfoot researchers watching the user, tracking their eye movements and questioning them as they performed a variety of tasks online. A sample of 60 is higher than average for user testing of this kind, making it statistically valid.
Supporting evidence, including video footage of user tests, carried out for this research is available on request.