What is a click in digital advertising?

Ad click definition and calculator

Ad click calculator

What is an ad click?

An ad click is when a user clicks/taps on part of a digital advertisement, be it the image/creative or a text URL. In most cases, once clicked, the browser or app will take the user away from the page they are on to another site - typically the advertiser or the campaign landing page.

Once clicked, the page will communicate with the adserver that is tracking the activity and record one click against the ad placement.

If the campaign KPI is clicks or CTR, you should factor in the quality of traffic you are driving by using site analytics tools to determine the session length and bounce rate, just in case you are driving a lot of accidental clicks.

If you are judging the success via conversions or sales, you should not just focus on the number of clicks that are being driven by each vendor and ad, but the conversion rate and CPA to ensure you are making the most efficient use of your budget. When judging a sales campaign by the number of clicks rather than conversions driven, you may be incorrectly attributing success to the wrong vendor or ad.

If it is a rich media display ad, the ad may feature interactive elements, such as navigation buttons or video controls, for example. Clicks within these units are not technically counted as a click - as they do not click out to a different URL - but counted as an engagement.

Ad click formula

To estimate the number of clicks you will drive in a campaign, you will need the following metrics:

  1. Estimated impressions delivered

  2. Estimated CTR (click through rate)


How to increase clicks

First of all, you need to decide what the objective of your campaign is. If it is to drive traffic, then please continue to read the tips below! If it is to drive sales, you should consider not optimizing your campaign to clicks but when possible to conversions instead and target lookalike audiences of users who are converting to more efficiently expand your reach.

Set your buying or optimizations objectives to clicks or CTR: make sure the DSP or platform you are using to buy ads is set up to bid on inventory that will more likely generate a click, rather than a “reach” objective that will simply find the lowest cost impressions available per unique user.

Include a call to action (CTA): if your ad does not clearly communicate to the user (of whom you have a second of attention from, at best) to click to find out more, then you are hampering your chances of generating clicks. The CTA could be in your creative or imagery, or simply refining your ad copy to be clearer. However you do it, do have the user experience in mind.

Test different vendors, ad formats and digital channels: if static image ads are not working for you, for example, then try a video ad to grab attention. Continually measure results, be it in terms of a CPC or CPA to judge efficiency. When you have tested different formats within platforms, move onto another platform (e.g. Facebook to Twitter) or test different digital channels (such as PPC or email) to discover the most effective and efficient delivery for driving clicks.

At the end of the day, there is no magic formula that will help you increase clicks. As long as you continually test different methods as described above, you will learn what is working best for your campaigns.

Keep the objective in mind and measure everything in terms of cost-efficiency, conversion rate and conversions and your marketing spend will only go further.

Related metrics