Middle America clicks on ads

    December 3, 2007
    WebProNews Staff

As Danah Boyd hypothesizes on who the ad clicking audience might be, online entrepreneurs should consider this alternative to the pay per click treadmill upon which they walk.

Boyd’s guesswork about the secret identities of ad clickers suggests there may be less to love about them than what ad sellers have suggested about the quality of their traffic. After citing a summer 2007 article by AOL’s Dave Morgan, who suggested that women in middle America do the heavy clicking, Boyd hints that social networks may be selling advertisers down the primrose path with their ad gambits:

I have a sneaking suspicion that a tiny percentage of MySpace/Facebook/etc. users make up the bulk of the revenue of these sites, just as with the sites that Morgan addresses. I cannot find any research on who clicks on social network site ads (does anyone know of any???), but based on what I’ve seen qualitatively, my hypothesis would be that heavy ad clickers are:

More representative of lower income households than the average user.
Less educated than the average user (or from less-educated environments in the case of minors).
More likely to live outside of the major metro regions.
More likely to be using SNSs to meet new people than the average user (who is more likely to be using SNSs to maintain connections).

In other words, much to my chagrin, I suspect that heavy ad clickers in social network sites and other social media are more likely to trend lower in both economic and social capital than the average user. 

We’ve suggested in other articles that cost per action will be the model that carries the day for advertising in the future. If clicks really do originate from a group that doesn’t match what advertisers want in the form of conversions, CPA could start catching on with a lot more websites.