Comscore and Starcom USA Release Updated “Natural Born Clickers” Study Showing 50 Percent Drop in Number of U.S. Internet Users Who Click on Display Ads

Only 8 Percent of Internet Users Now Account for 85 Percent of all Clicks

Research Underscores the Importance of View-Through Metrics for Evaluating Display Ad Performance

RESTON, VA, October 1, 2009 – Comscore, Inc. (NASDAQ: SCOR), a leader in measuring the digital world today released the results of an update to its highly publicized “Natural Born Clickers” research, originally conducted two years ago in conjunction with media agency Starcom USA and Tacoda. The collaborative studies focus on an understanding of how U.S. Internet users click on display ads. The updated results based on March 2009 Comscore data, and presented by Comscore chairman Gian Fulgoni and Kim McCarthy, manager, Research & Analytics at Starcom, at the iMedia Brand Summit in San Diego on September 14, 2009, indicated that the number of people who click on display ads in a month has fallen from 32 percent of Internet users in July 2007 to only 16 percent in March 2009, with an even smaller core of people (representing 8 percent of the Internet user base) accounting for the vast majority (85 percent) of all clicks.

“The act of clicking on a display ad is experiencing rapid attrition in the current digital marketplace,” said Linda Anderson, Comscore VP of marketing solutions and author of the study. “Today, marketers who attempt to optimize their advertising campaigns solely around the click are assigning no value to the 84 percent of Internet users who don’t click on an ad. That’s precisely the wrong thing to do, because other Comscore research has shown that non-clicked ads can also have a significant impact. As a result, savvy marketers are moving to an evaluation of the impact that all ad impressions – whether clicked or not – have on consumer behavior, mirroring the manner in which traditional advertising has been measured for decades using reach and frequency metrics.”

Updated 2009 Research Findings

The original research, conducted using July 2007 Comscore data, showed that 32 percent of Internet users clicked on at least one display ad during the month. These clickers were segmented into Heavy, Moderate and Light Clicking segments based on the group of users accounting for the top 50 percent of clicks (heavy), middle 30 percent (moderate), and bottom 20 percent (light). In 2007, Comscore, Starcom and Tacoda found that heavy clickers represented 6 percent of U.S. Internet users, moderate clickers accounted for 10 percent and light clickers accounted for 16 percent. By March 2009, those numbers had dropped substantially in each case, to 4 percent of Internet users for heavy clickers, 4 percent for moderate clickers and 8 percent for light clickers.

Heavy, Moderate, Light Display Ad Clicker Analysis
March 2009 vs. July 2007
Total U.S. – Home/Work/University Locations
Source: Comscore

Share of All Internet Users

Share of Click-Throughs





Total Clickers





Heavy Clickers





Moderate Clickers





Light Clickers










The results underscore the notion that, for most display ad campaigns, the click-through is not the most appropriate metric for evaluating campaign performance. Rather, advertisers should consider evaluating campaigns based on their view-through impact. Comscore has conducted more than 200 client studies demonstrating that online display ads generate significant lift in brand site visitation, trademark search, and both online and offline sales among those Internet users who were exposed to the online ad campaigns – whether they clicked on the ad or not. These results, compiled in Comscore’s influential “Whither the Click?” white paper, were reported in the June 2009 issue of the Journal of Advertising Research.

“A click means nothing, earns no revenue and creates no brand equity. Your online advertising has some goal – and it’s certainly not to generate clicks,” said Starcom USA SVP/Director, Research & Analytics John Lowell. “You want people to visit your website, seek more information, purchase a product, become a lead, keep your brand top of mind, learn something new, feel differently – the list goes on. Regardless of whether the consumer clicked on an ad or not, the key is to determine how that ad unit influenced them to think, feel or do something they wouldn’t have done otherwise.”

About Starcom USA
Starcom ( is a full-service media agency with world-renowned expertise in making connections between consumers and brands through communications strategy, media buying and consumer research. Consistently recognized by third-party sources as an industry powerhouse, Starcom was named Media Agency of the Year from 2003 to 2007 by respected trade publications Advertising Age and Media magazine. In pursuit of helping marketers get the right consumers’ attention, Starcom activates integrated campaign management, response media, digital communications, multicultural services, branded entertainment, mobile contact, social networking, sponsorships and beyond. With over 900 employees and an estimated $8 billion in billings in the U.S., Starcom delivers brand-building results for many of the world's leading companies. Starcom is a division of Starcom MediaVest Group within holding company Publicis Groupe S.A. (Euronext Paris: FR0000130577).

About Comscore
Comscore, Inc. (NASDAQ: SCOR) is a global leader in measuring the digital world and preferred source of digital marketing intelligence. For more information, please visit

Bill Daddi
Daddi Brand Communications