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Fast Company is Right About This, At Least: Clicks Matter

Posted November 4th, 2010 by Andrew Goodman

Like Pace Lattin “doesn’t cross paths with Shoemoney at all,” I don’t cross paths with Pace Lattin at all (although Lattin and I are fellow ClickZ columnists).

All I can do is read what he’s writing on his blog, accept the words on their face, and try to get meaning out of them.

Commenting on the already-well-documented brouhaha about Fast Company’s ill-fated, easily-gamed “Most Influential Online” survey, Lattin makes the following incomprehensible statement:

The real strange thing is that in the article they mentioned that “clicks are the currency” of the internet This is probably the worst statement I’ve heard about the internet and marketing in general. Perhaps in 1998, “clicks” were the most important thing, but with all the developments and technology that have occurred in our industry, I’m amazed that a company like FastCompany would ever make this ridiculous claim. It completely ignores the real truths of interactive marketing, from real influence in social networking, to real influence in branding, to real influence in blogging.

It’s fine to finesse a point here and there, to make a point.

And it appears we all agree that the Fast Company survey was lame, as definitively documented by Danny Sullivan.

But why blatantly deny a very important point in our industry? That clicks are currency? In a large part of the online marketing world, advertisers pay for clicks. That makes clicks, literally, currency. Of the $25 billion that Google will make this year on advertising, over $20 billion of that will have been charged by the click. That’s a lot of currency.

As for the specific alternatives Lattin suggests, I only have questions.

“The real truths of interactive marketing”: Define “interactive marketing”. Can you distiguish between real truths and fake truths?

“Real influence in social networking.” Please distinguish real influence from fake influence.

“Real influence in branding.” Define “branding.” Now go back, and define it again. Compare your responses. Please distinguish real from fake influence.

“Real influence in blogging.” Please distinguish real from fake influence.

Clicks=currency: that much we know.

Fake and invalid clicks should be filtered out, not paid for, and not counted in surveys. That, we also know.

Who wants to win a “most influential” contest, anyway?

6 Responses to “Fast Company is Right About This, At Least: Clicks Matter”

  1. Lee says:

    Pace Lattin seems to have a valid point — i.e., that all clicks are NOT equal. The click PLUS the origin of the click, which might indicate a particular demographic or psychographic, are what is important. A click by itself doesn’t necessarily have any value, especially if a particular click has zero chance of leading to a sale.

  2. Andrew says:

    Psychographic! Woooo!

    Did it not feel to you like Mr. Lattin went slightly overboard in condemning the concept of clicks? Clicks being “so 1998″? Hazy memory? It was all impressions back then.

    I’m pretty sure that psychographic fraud is pretty bad… unfortunately I can’t measure it — other than taking an estimate of how many billions of dollars vague buzzwords and phony research from Madison Avenue cost clients over the past 50 years.

    The Fast Company exercise was certainly an example of an easily gamed measurement methodology.

    The other claptrap Mr. Lattin appended to his legitimate critique of that, however, was overdone. I say I’m just keepin’ ‘em honest.

  3. Lee says:

    Continued from above…

    Therefore a raw click cannot be considered a currency like a dollar is.

    A dollar in theory is always a dollar — that is, it will always buy what a dollar buys.

    This is not true with a click. One click coming from the right source, landing on the right page could be worth $100. Another click coming from a different source could have zero value on the same page.

    Therefore a click is not a currency like a silver dollar is.

  4. Eric says:

    Whats really interesting is that you are assuming Pace Carlos Vernon Lattin has any weight in online marketing other then the psycho babble he spews forth on his blog.

    Heres a man that was fired from for stealing there email database and mass emailing thousands of well known affiliate marketers who after a very short time discovered his duplicity. If their is any doubt to what I say, simply check this link:

    Or Google search Pace Lattin Wicked fire and you will see what I mean. If this is Paces idea of how real marketing should be done then we are all doomed. Andrew, I would hope you would be more selective in who you engage in debate with. As to the validity of clicks and there impact in our industry, there are several measures of success.

  5. A note on the commenting policy


    I thought this was a minor throwaway post to ignite only a tiny amount of controversy, but sometimes, open dialogue happens online. As a result, at least behind the scenes, this has proven to be a controversial set of published comments. Some readers have written to express concern about our decision to post every “real” and verifiable comment that we have received on this post. is a blog and not a forum or user generated content site, so we do not spend our time in meetings worrying about editorial or commenting problems. We are of course concerned about what is legal and what is fair.

    In other venues we have had direct experience in editorial organizations that have maintained lengthy “posting guidelines,” etc. Not all of these experiences are directly relevant, however. Many blogs leave comments pretty wide open, much more so than the “censored” communities out there do.

    Believe it or not, a watershed event for us happened ten years ago, on an online marketing forum (JimWorld) that was heavily sponsored by a leading pay-per-click engine. Since that engine sponsored the forum, frank conversations about click fraud were simply removed. Long story short, via private message and email, I met a like-minded person — also critical of that click fraud — who still works with me today. We are not fond of online venues that shape and twist published user comments so that friendly ones appear, and unfriendly ones just vanish.

    On many forum-based sites, moderation is akin to censorship. We are wary about going down that path just because there are a couple of complaints.

    Comments on blogs need to be moderated nowadays given the amount of spam they attract. As such, we’re generally focused on one thing and one thing only: publishing each and every “real,” non-spam, comment, after taking the trouble to sift through the spam junk.

    Of course, there are going to be exceptions. On most any public forum there are rules against profanity, physical threats, and other things that may be bad judgment or even illegal to post. And then there are gray areas.

    In gray areas, we take an anti-censorship stance. More speech is generally the solution to bad speech. This doesn’t mean we condone the content of all comments, of course.

    Readers are asked to take into account, to the best of their abilities, of the credibility of the source of a post, and of the sources they link to or cite. Not everything you believe on the Internet is true… but I hope you knew that already.


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