Should advertisers care whether Facebook overall has a lower CTR than display advertising? 

Is that what would drive my decision on which channel to spend my online dollars? RealIy, in 2011? That’s so 1994! Savvy marketers are doing analysis on what it costs to get their target consumer to do something more meaningful than click on an ad and then they are using that cost metric as the measure of success.

Now for those who don’t get it. Solely looking at average CTR as a measure of comparison is like looking at your speedometer as the sole measure of your car’s performance. It’s like saying “well, I know the highway speed average is 55MPH. I was able to push it to 60MPH today.” Meanwhile, your brake line is cut. BUT, you say, “I was able to get my car up to above average highway speeds, and it was easy to measure because I saw the number with my own eyes, so all is well”…  Except for that ambulance driver who is pulling up behind me.

We’re allowed to get away with the easy measures because let’s face it: if we’re wrong in this industry, people don’t get killed. We get away with not having to solve the hard problems. So the quick and easy measures become the indicators of success or failure, even if they are only a small indication of performance or completely incorrect altogether.

But good news! Smart marketers are avoiding the car wreck every day. Return on marketing dollars, not clicks, affect the bottom line. If we want to keep up, we need to understand the right business success measures and we need to stop the comparisons on measures where we can’t quantify true achievement of business goals. Marketing and advertising, even online, are part of a business function. I don’t care what industry you’re in, it’s a fact. We need to treat it that way.

It’s probably a good thing Facebook CTR is down. There is value in Facebook ads that go far beyond the click. Maybe Zuckerberg will find a metric that actually measures success and that elevates their platform to one where which they can base pricing on business results instead of clicks. It would be good for them and the industry as a whole.