Thanks for your feedback on this topic. As promised, I am circling back on the Advertising: To Gate or Not to Gate post I wrote in late April. As you'll recall, I initiated a little experiment to offer one of our assets via an online ad without registration. For a period of almost two months, we ran ad units with 1 to 1 Media, American Marketing Association, BusinessWeek Online, destinationCRM and The Wall Street Journal Online.
The results are in!
And they're not what I expected (which prompts me to want to tinker some more). For the time being, here is what we found when we compared the two trial periods:
- The Click-Through Rate (CTR) went up from 0.09% to 0.50%
- The Conversion Rate (CVR) went down from 3.32% to 2.65%
To put those numbers into plain English:
- When we removed registration, the proportion of the viewers that clicked through went up five-fold from 0.09% to 0.5%.
- At the same time, the subset of viewers that clicked through and then also downloaded the whitepaper shrunk by 21% from 3.32% to 2.65%.
The CTR results were unexpected because we did not change the wording of the ad to say “no registration required,” so unless I don’t fully grasp this concept, there is no outward indication that would prompt more clicks. The CVR results are also unexpected because this should be like the bowl of Halloween candy left on the porch of the folks not at home. Remove the doorbell and the first group of trick-or-treaters hit the jackpot, but in the case of our ad it didn't play out as expected.
The “after” numbers (no registrations) were confirmed in the following weeks as the proportions remained the same. Preliminary conclusions based on these results are that if our objective with online ads is to drive awareness, then it’s more effective to offer assets ungated. Conversely, if we were looking to generate leads, then it would make more sense to continue gating our assets on the ads we place.
If you will recall, the asset we’re promoting in these advertisements is a Webcast summary paper titled, Tips from the Trade - Competing on Web Analytics from a Webcast called by the same name (Webcast Link). The Webcast featured an discussion with author Eric Peterson from Web Analytics Demystified and SAS Customer Office Depot, moderated by SAS' own Michele Eggers.
I am going to see if we can try another test, but this time changing the wording in the ads and the landing pages to see if that drives a different result and let you know what happens. Until then, let me know if you expected those same results. Have you had similar experiences? Share your thoughts when you have a chance. Thanks!