What Does The Age Of An OS Tell Us About Its User Base? Quite A Lot, Actually!


Windows 8 has been fresh on the market for just under a month, and earlier this year, Apple released its latest desktop OS, Mac OS X Mountain Lion.

Windows 8 has been touted as a leading platform for both desktop and mobile devices, and a key pillar in Microsoft’s strategy to revive its ailing OS business, far removed from the glory days of Window XP. Mac OS X Mountain Lion was launched with a similar fanfare, but under far less pressure, as Apple has regularly released upgrades to Mac OS X since its official launch in 2011.

Surely, the release of these two marquee operating systems in the same year marks a historic event. However, this also begs the question: how do users of separate OS versions interact differently with advertisements and marketing campaigns?

To provide a greater understanding into the connection between OS version and user CTR, Chitika Insights analyzed data coming out of the Chitika Ad Network to uncover any potential relationship that might be found.

OS: Microsoft Vs. Apple

The data used in this study was composed of tens of millions of US and Canadian ad impressions across the Chitika Ad Network, across a date range of November 3 to November 9, 2012. Chitika Insights then compared the CTR of desktop users whose computers were running an OS made by either Microsoft or Apple. The results were quite interesting, although far from unexpected, and are displayed for your viewing pleasure below:

The above data show that for both Windows and Mac OS X, user CTR is inversely related to the recency of an OS version. To put it simply, the older the OS, the more likely a user is to click on an advertisement or engage with a marketer’s campaign.

The relationship between OS version and the propensity of a user to click on an ad was found to be strongest among Mac OS X users. The older the version of Mac OS X a user has installed, the more likely they are to engage with an ad or a marketer’s campaign.

Although CTRs increase with version age on both operating systems, the shape of the slope is steepest for Mac users. Windows users exhibit the same trend, but to a lesser degree.

Software Version Impacts Ad Campaigns

This study suggests that the software version of a particular operating system can be used as a proxy for how tech savvy a user really is — similarly to the results found in last month’s study on screen size. Based on this assumption, the software version of an OS can provide insight into an audience’s adeptness of all things high tech.

Marketers would be well advised to hone in on the distribution of software versions, in order to determine the areas which will provide the highest rate of return.

Understanding the distribution of your audience, whether it is on a single website or across an entire campaign, is an essential piece of running an effective campaign. For example, a marketer running a CPC campaign may experience greater levels of success focusing campaign efforts on a site whose user base tends to run older software versions.

As with screen resolution, software version is only one of the many variables marketers should look at when considering different ways to optimize their campaigns. While a user’s software version can provide deep insight into their behavior, there are undoubtedly many other variables which impact user engagement rates.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.

About The Author

Gabe Donnini is a Data Solutions Engineer at Chitika and a lead author for reports by Chitika Insights, the research arm of the online ad service. After graduating with a B.A. in Business Administration from Ithaca College, Gabe has been pursuing his passion for technology by researching and analyzing new and emerging trends in the online world.



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