Experienced Web Users Don’t Generate Ad Revenue

If there was one thing that makes me question the financial viability of online media businesses, it would be the differences in revenue generated by visitors to websites who use Microsoft’s Internet Explorer web browser, vs. the rest of the planet.

Here’s what this looks like on TheDeets.com:

Value of Website Visitors by Web Browser

What I’m seeing:

Visits via Internet Explorer are down to 34% of visits. FireFox is at 29%, which is a bit of a drop too. Safari has gained a bit, but Chrome is making the biggest gains.

While IE web browsing visitors account for only 34% of TheDeets.com’s traffic, those visitors are responsible for 60% of the ad clicks and 65% of the site’s revenue.

At the other end of the spectrum, Chrome web browser users, I see a 14% visit share, and a measly 4% share of ad revenue.

If you’re trying to make a living off online ad revenues, this could be problematic. As I see it, the IE crowd is likely people who’ve bought a Windows computer and have stuck with their computer’s default web browser (along with people who are forced to use IE on work computers). I’m assuming that this group of web users are relative novices compared to people who’ve taken the time to install a different browser (Firefox or Chrome) or buy a better computer (Safari is the default Macintosh browser).

Breaking down the advertisement click through rates by the browser choices of visitors, I see this:

Click Thru Rates by Web Browser

People browsing with Internet Explorer are twice as likely to click an ad during their visit as Safari users (the other default user crowd). IE users are 3X more likely to click an ad than FireFox users, and 5X more likely to do so than Chrome web browsing visitors to TheDeets.com.

The challenge here for publishers is that more and more people will fall into the Safari, FireFox, and Chrome profiles over time as they become more experienced web surfers. Then who’s going to click the ads?

As I think about this, it reminds me of the experience I have whenever I visit a new country for the first time. After landing at an airport, everything is new, including the advertisements. I find myself actually interested in the ads in subways, on billboards, bus benches, etc. But, over time, my interest wanes. I imagine this is partly because the ads become relatively redundant over time. I don’t have the same level of engagement with a cell phone carrier’s ad the 100th time I see it. But, it’s not just the content of the ads that gets ignored. It’s whatever appears in locations that have proven to provide little value over time.

Translating that to the web, people who’ve spent a lot of time online have seen a TON of ads, so are already familiar with a huge portion of the ads they peripherally see every day. Additionally, there are certain locations on pages, and shapes of content that their brains have learned to ignore since they have proven to provide little value. And, beyond that, a small portion of experienced web users have installed ad blockers, so don’t even have to ignore the ads on the page.

9 thoughts on “Experienced Web Users Don’t Generate Ad Revenue”

  1. You make the incorrect assumption that by moving to another browser those click-happy IE users won’t click ads anymore.

  2. Can’t assume anything, but I can definitely see a person who takes the time to upgrade their browser clicking on less ads. The stats show that to be true.

  3. There are also browser plugins which will hide ads altogether. Installing and configuring an ad blocker is usually pretty easy, but a novice web user might not even know the option exists. If you aren’t comfortable configuring an ad blocker, you probably won’t be downloading and installing a new broswer to replace IE either.

  4. Aside from the assumption that Macs are better computers, I agree with the IE vs et al references. Everyone I know who uses IE does so because they have no friggin’ clue about the options out there. They just use the browser that (a) is preinstalled; and (b) they have used since the 90s because they don’t understand tech enough to pay attention.

  5. Great post. So many variables apply. Perhaps the random Google Ads showing up don’t work as well for the experienced web user? Agree that probably ad blocking plays a roll in the data, tho.

  6. Pingback: Tweets that mention Experienced Web Users Don’t Generate Ad Revenue | The Deets -- Topsy.com
  7. I personalize use both Chrome and Firefox. I find that certain sites aren’t kind to certain browsers so I have both of them open at all times and switch between them as necessary. Funny thing, I don’t every click on site ads. Do other users here?

  8. Nice try with the underhanded crack that Macs are better computers, laughable, but pretty slick

  9. @John, computer quality is somewhat subjective. Having used both PCs and Macs over the years, from my perspective, Macs currently are better computers than PCs for what I use them for, and what most of my friends use computers for.

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