That guy clicking on your ad? You don't want him

It turns out that the online ad revolution is the personal foible of a very few people.

The online advertising revolution is apparently being powered by mindless (and relatively penniless) "clickers" in search of gambling and new jobs, according to a new report. It's almost Dilbertian in its brilliance (but more on that below).

Social networks aren't paying great dividends as advertising vehicles. The use of ad-blocking software is almost certain to rise. Where does this leave the web?

With the 6 percent of the online population that clicks on most of those ads:

The study illustrates that heavy clickers represent just 6% of the online population yet account for 50% of all display ad clicks. While many online media companies use click-through rate as an ad negotiation currency, the study shows that heavy clickers are not representative of the general public. In fact, heavy clickers skew towards Internet users between the ages of 25-44 and households with an income under $40,000.

Heavy clickers behave very differently online than the typical Internet user, and while they spend four times more time online than non-clickers, their spending does not proportionately reflect this very heavy Internet usage. Heavy clickers are also relatively more likely to visit auctions, gambling, and career services sites - a markedly different surfing pattern than non-clickers.

This reminds me of that Dilbert carton in which Aesop Asok reports to the Pointy-haired Boss that the company's strategy is driven by a typo:

Asok: I discovered a typo in the market forecast that is driving our company strategy.

Asok: Where it says, "Everyone would want one," it should have said, "Avery Wong would want one.

Asok: Worse yet, I called Mr. Wong and he said he was joking.

Pointy-haired Boss: What if we gave him free delivery?

This isn't a crisis. It just means that we have to get more intelligent about how we monetize the web. It's not going to be about text ads, in my view. Rather, it will be about the merger of social networks (who I care about) with expressed desires (what I care about) . Beacon was a faulty attempt at this. More and smarter ways to make money online will arise.

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About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.

     

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