There were quite a few news stories this past week that piqued my interest.

From a study revealing that the most avid clickers of online ads aren’t members of the most desirable demographic groups to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s admission that the US economic landscape is increasingly bleak, the diversity of the week’s news was enjoyable.

  • Display advertising’s virtual reality

According to a study released this week by Starcom, Tacoda and comScore, 6% of internet users account for 50% of all clicks on display ads.

Tacoda is a division of AOL and previous data released by Dave Morgan, Executive Vice President of Global Advertising Strategy for AOL, already revealed that…

…”most people do not click on ads, and those that do are by no means representative of web users at large”.

The fact the people clicking most frequently on ads are not exactly a lucrative demographic (they typically have annual incomes less than $40,000) has a number of obvious implications that should worry brand marketers.

For instance, if we know that less-than-desirable consumers account for 50% of display ad clicks, is there really any justification for higher CPMs on sites that are trafficked by more desirable consumers?

After all, if they’re less likely to click on ads, the value proposition for higher CPMs seems shaky at best. Of course, most brand marketers already know that most CPM-based advertising doesn’t really deliver.

Additionally, while this study dealt solely with display advertising, I think it’s fairly likely that the most avid “clickers” on other types of online ads fit a similar profile.

The bottom line, as Erin Hunter at comScore pointed out, is that click performance “is the wrong measure for the effectiveness of brand-building campaigns”.

What’s the better measure? How about sales?

  • Hello Kitty MMO goes into beta

The ever-popular Hello Kitty brand has entered the virtual world by launching an MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) similar in nature to World of Warcraft.

It comes complete with “a virtual economy, guilds and custom avatars” and I have no doubt that the Hello Kitty MMORPG will be a money-spinner for Hello Kitty’s Japanese owner, Sanrio.

As I’ve noted before, I’m a fan of ventures that leverage virtual goods and believe that there is significant room for many established brands to leverage Web 2.0 concepts such as virtual worlds in a fashion that creates tangible value.

  • Striking writers return to coal-face

After a 100-day strike, Hollywood writers will be returning to work. The Writers Guild of America voted to end the strike after getting some desired concessions related to new media residuals.

Original online video content is hot, but whether the strike has provided any tangible long-term boost to independent online video content production remains to be seen.

I’m still inclined to believe that the new media divisions of Big Media companies (and former members of Big Media) will continue to be the primarily beneficiaries of the fashionability of online video.

  • Facebook – breaking up ain’t easy

The New York Times has highlighted yet another Facebook privacy issue – the painstaking effort it takes users to delete their accounts.

With social networks having become so popular and an increasing number of their users apparently getting bored and deciding to commit online suicide, the ease with which these users can delete all traces of their online personas is likely to become a more prominent issue.

In the case of Facebook, it appears that the company is not eager to make it simple for its users to delete their accounts.

This probably says a lot about the overhyped, leaky company.

  • BRIC building

AdWeek’s interesting and insightful article on “how Brazil, Russia, India and China are reshaping the marketing world” is a must-read for marketers who want to play ball in a global economy that is increasingly influenced by new economic powers.

The lessons that marketers are learning are also applicable to internet entrepreneurs as well, as it’s equally important for entrepreneurs to think global right off the bat when launching new ventures.

  • YouTube being left out in the cold? 

Despite some of the massive CPMs being paid for online video advertising, YouTube is by and large being excluded from the money flow.

It’s also being excluded from licensing deals that other video sites have been able to ink with major rights holders.

Mike Shields at MediaWeek discusses why this is the case. In short, it’s a combination of YouTube’s often-risqué user-generated content (as opposed to legal, professional content) that is too edgy for advertisers and the desire of major rights holders to show Google that they don’t need YouTube to achieve distribution success online.

The outcome is unknown, but one thing is clear – Google’s acquisition of YouTube is not guaranteed to be a long-term financial boon for the search giant and the company’s arrogant attitude in dealing with rights holders hasn’t done it any favors.

  • Bernanke warns of worsening economy

What a surprise – Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke voiced a “starkly pessimistic assessment” of the United States economy on Wednesday and may resort to further interest rate cuts to “combat the adverse effects of a prolonged housing slump and a severe credit crisis”.

Of course, he still believes that a recession isn’t inevitable. And he just might be right. If the Fed prints enough money, anything is possible.