“View-through” rates instead of click through rates?

In a recent new release by DoubleClick about online advertising in Q4 2003 i found the following:
“The data showed click-through rates for advertiser-served ads continued to fall, down 45 percent from a year earlier to 0.4 percent. However, view-through rates — users taking some action within 30 days of seeing an ad — rose 42 percent to 0.75 percent.”

I began to wonder how they are able to track view-through rates. E.g. if they serve banners for eBay or amazon and the user who sees those banners but doesn’t click on them goes to eBay or amazon 28 days after seeing the ad to make a purchase, which she/he would have done anyway because she is a frequent customer there, DoubleClick will count that as the effect of the banner? One view-through?

In the original Doubleclick release (PDF) they explain view-through as follows:
“View-through rates assess users who have taken action within 30 days (on average) of having viewed, but not clicked on, a banner. This metric can be used to assess post-impression response and optimize based on a more complete picture of conversions rather than just clicks. View-throughs are an observation of consumer behavior — it cannot be determined precisely what portion of these metrics are related to the online impression and what are related to offline marketing.”
(and it’s not just offline marketing they should take into account, but brand awareness, customer loyalty, other online marketing activities, etc.)

And last, but not least: 0.75% view-through activity. That number may already be skewed due to the above questions, and still it’s just 0.75% of users who take ANY action after seeing ads online. If that’s not another statistical proof of banner blindness in internet consumers, i don’t know what is.

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