"Data-Driven Thinking" is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.
Digital ad spending continues to climb, with US budgets expected to reach $42.5 billion this year and grow to $60.4 billion in 2017, according to eMarketer. Despite this growth, marketers still struggle to prove their digital efforts are working.
Digital advertising has been and continues to be one of the most difficult ad mediums to measure. Advertisers often feel unsure about what metrics point to success. To prove their digital investments are worthwhile, they rely heavily on measurements such as the click-through rate, which is thought to demonstrate a target audience’s interest.
There’s a problem with this approach. While marketers create brand awareness at the top of the funnel and focus on educating prospects in the middle of the funnel, success is still pinned on click-through rates and other metrics that point to leads and conversion, which are historically bottom-funnel metrics. This is especially true with display advertising.
With the B2B sales cycle getting longer, it’s imperative that marketers measure programs based on what they want to achieve at each stage of the funnel. This will enable them to take a true pulse of their growth and stay focused on drawing new prospects into the funnel.
Using CTR to measure display ad performance may make sense for the bottom of the funnel, but it doesn’t work for the top or middle of the funnel.
Here are 10 other metrics marketers can use to measure the performance of display advertising:
Display ads can be used as a branding vehicle. It can be just as effective as TV, but it’s more cost-effective and you can measure it more accurately.
Creative that is geared toward the bottom of the funnel often has strong calls to action so that, when acted upon, the user is effectively saying they are ready to move forward with your product. However, much of the audience you hit with display ads may not be aware of who you are just yet. In short, it’s equally important to deliver creative ads that focus on driving brand awareness and educating your audience.
Many of these metrics depend on benchmarking, so marketers should measure, for instance, their branded search prior to a display campaign in order to gauge the lift when the display campaign is running. It’s important to note that metrics can vary from industry to industry and from company to company. The best way to gauge the performance of display ads is to measure them against your own brand’s performance when they’re not running.
1. Brand Recall: To measure the effectiveness of a branding display ad campaign, you can commission an online brand study comparing the increase in awareness of your brand among people who have seen your ad vs. people who haven’t.
2. Branded Search: Likewise, when your online advertising campaign is running, you should see a lift in the number of searches for your company or products on Google or other search engines.
3. Direct Website Traffic: This last metric is helpful to monitor for the top of the funnel. During an online banner campaign, your website analytics tools should show an increase in visitors who have typed in your brand name and arrived directly at your website.
As I mentioned before, the mid-funnel is really focused on engaging and educating prospects. When running a display campaign that is focused on education, there are several metrics that will help you understand what’s working so you can keep driving prospects down the funnel.
4. Cost Per New Website Visitor: To calculate the cost of acquiring new prospects, divide your total campaign cost by the number of new visitors. This will give you the cost per new website visitor.
5-6. Page View Lift and Web Form Lift: While display ad campaigns are running, marketers should see target prospects viewing more pages on their websites and completing more forms as they download gated whitepapers and other content. The two success metrics to track to here are page view lift and Web form lift, respectively.
It’s important to understand the true impact of your advertising efforts so you can identify what’s working and what’s not so you can then put more wood behind the arrow of what’s driving success.
By now you’ve gained brand awareness and have educated and engaged your prospects. It’s time to turn those prospects into leads.
7. Total Leads: Bottom-funnel display ads can drive your target audience to your website, where you can entice them to share their contact information by filling out your Web forms. The compilation of all contacts whose information you have can be considered total leads.
8. Cost Per Lead: You can also measure the performance of your bottom-funnel display ads by tabulating cost per lead, which is the number of leads divided by total cost of the ad program.
9. Opportunity Contribution: Lower-funnel display advertising should also provide a boost in opportunities that make it into your sales pipeline. This is known as opportunity contribution.
10: Revenue Contribution: Likewise, when bottom-funnel advertising is running, you should see a boost in revenue contribution and total closed sales opportunities that originated from marketing. A comScore study found that companies combining display and search advertising saw a 119% lift in attributed sales.
Taking a look at all these metrics will make it much easier to get a handle on the real influence your campaign is making. When you just look at conversions, you don’t get the full picture.
But by taking this full funnel approach, it puts you in a better position to nurture prospects down the funnel.
What other metrics are you tracking?