In an odd twist, the more up to date a user’s version of Internet Explorer is that they run, the more likely that they are to click on an advertisement. The ratio is nearly linear, with each new version of the popular software bringing along with it a more click-happy user.

Our data comes via Chitika, an online ad network. Here’s the graph:

Now, why is this strange? Honestly, and I’m being cynical, it was my guess that people who did not update their browser would be, ahem, less savvy, and thus, perhaps, more likely to click on ads. However, I had the cart and horse order all mixed up it seems, so it’s time for a new direction.

Here’s my first guess: ads often require current browser tech to run; think of ads that use large Flash elements and splash across the screen and the like. Therefore, as IE has improved, and can thus better handle newer ads, users are shown more complete advertisements, and thus click on them more often.

That’s not a bad hypothesis, but the data doesn’t quite fit. If that was the case then we would expect to see the largest jump between IE8 and IE9, the technology gap between which is massive; IE9 is Microsoft’s move towards Internet standards, so if any browser was to deliver ads more effectively, it would be IE9 (in comparison to other version changes), and yet the CTR change is largest, it seems, between IE9 and IE10. IE10 is not out yet, but is instead included in Windows 8. At the moment it’s quite similar to IE9, as it’s not yet complete.

Thus we are hardly making progress. Another idea comes to mind: it could be that since those stuck on IE6 are often those who work for large corporations, they just don’t click on ads at all. But then the IE7 figure make no sense, as we would expect a rise and don’t see one.

I can’t parse it, but it seems that as Microsoft funnels people through to its most recent Internet Explorer builds, it is setting a firm foundation for online advertising: more clicks.