Time to rethink your campaign strategy: Metrics that really matter

Time to rethink your campaign strategy: Metrics that really matter


You’ll never get a second chance for a first impression…unless that first impression didn’t fully load on the page 😂

Bad digital jokes aside, impressions are the original form of measurement for digital advertising. They are bundled and sold as CPM (Cost Per Mille) and are only based in the potential that a user has seen them. So why are we still placing so much value in the metrics for these?

Knowing which metrics to care about when measuring all aspects of your campaign performance can be overwhelming especially when there are endless types out there. I mean CPM, CTR, ROI, the acronyms alone are enough to get scared away, but I’m here to break it down for you.

Behind the metrics - how it all began?

To understand why digital analytics are dominated by measures of volume, we have to look back to the traditional forms of media. Television has focused its measurement of success on mass numbers by total audience viewership, newspapers on circulation, and radio on number of listeners.

The measures of success in digital marketing were naturally influenced by these forms of media, and also became primarily based in total numbers such as impressions, page visits and reach. While the cost per thousand for television or radio is significantly lower, advertising online opens up an avenue to a much more targeted audience of potential customers.

Yes, exposure to ads online are great to give you a very broad idea of what users are engaging with, but these non-actionable mass metrics on their own give no real insight into whether a user was influenced by your ads at all.

Are clicks the answer?

Running any type of campaign consists of planning, strategising and creating your message, but in the end all you really care about is getting results. Simply measuring for an excellent CTR (Click-through-rate) may not be in line with your strategy, especially knowing that the average CTR for standard display is 0.05%, or just 5 clicks per 10,000 impressions.

Different types of results become more or less important depending on the outcome you’re opting for, so first things first, define your overall goal. If you're setting up a branding campaign for a new product, for example, this will likely still be measured on total reach of audience. At this stage, it’s important that you’re getting the message out there as much as possible to build awareness for the brand or product.

At other times, you are looking for the results which come at the end of the funnel, because your end goal is for something to be sold. From here, getting users to simply click on ads doesn’t mean you’ve achieved your goal because you’re still looking to convert people into actionable leads and proven sales.  

Being strategic in knowing what metrics to care about will allow you to assess whether initial exposure and interactions are of real value to your campaign. Use your results to tell a story, but don’t change your goals based on them.

Your campaign is falling flat, what’s the plan?

So, your campaign isn't performing as expected, what now? Throw in the towel? No. Make a string of targeting changes and hope for the best? Definitely not. You need to look at your metrics, and see where your potential customers are falling out of the user funnel.

The first stage is exposure. If your advertising is not delivering impressions on track for your schedule, this could be an early indicator of set up issues. Check your ad set up, or check in with your publisher to make sure technical issues aren’t affecting your campaign. Once there are no issues with delivery, time to look into your performance.

Getting clicks, as mentioned, will not always be the end goal of your advertising, but they are an important method of knowing that the ads technically work, and that the creative is appealing enough to interact with. A low CTR however is not always something to panic at, as not all actions taken based on an ad are directly post-click. It can take a few exposures across different media to an ad before a user will organically find their way to a website.

Apart from performance, are you actually getting value for your money? At the end of the day, most advertising is grounded in achieving sales. To give you a good idea of your ROI (return on investment), calculate by taking total spend in advertising and dividing it by the amount of conversions achieved. For instance, if you have spent $10,000 and get 50 users submitting complete enquiry forms, your cost per conversion is $200.

Conversion can be quite subjective, so it’s good to find a relevant reference point. Here’s a look at an Unbounce study of conversion rates by industry:


Lead generation conversion rates by industry. Image Source:  SmartInsights.com

Lead generation conversion rates by industry. Image Source: SmartInsights.com

To work towards lowering cost per conversion, think about taking simple steps such as pausing non-converting ads, or optimise your landing page. If you are using a lead capture form, the best place for it to be is on your landing page to reduce the steps from ad to lead as much as possible. Steps such as limiting the number of actions a user can make on the page, and keeping the form short, to just the essential contact details such as name and email, will also reduce your rate of incomplete form abandonment.

Experiencing failure in marketing is something that everyone goes through at some point in their career, but it’s also vital to recognise what went wrong, and use these learnings to take make appropriate optimisations.

Too many metrics on the dashboard

AirBnB’s data science manager, Alok Gupta, has said that they, “don’t need convoluted controversial metrics systems,” when it comes to knowing if an ad leads to a booking on AirBnB. In this vein we are increasingly seeing leading digital companies shift focus away from obsessing over insignificant metrics - they just want ads that work, and drive users to take action.

These companies are also realising they need to keep up with all the data that comes with the amount of content being consumed at an amazing rate across media. Working for a tech-driven digital company myself, I live and breathe data, so I know how important it is to have a place to not only track metrics for targeted campaigns, but which also assists in providing meaningful recommendations that help you assess the real impact of your ads.

Many social platforms such as Facebook and Snapchat have tackled this issue by investing in creating their own self-serve platforms for buying ads and measuring performance all in one place. Whether it’s Google Analytics or any of the range of DSP reporting tools and self-serve ad managers, the metrics within these platforms hold the key to determining the success or failure of your campaigns. So, while you can’t pick your data, you can choose your goals and the relevant metrics which will help you achieve them.