8 ways to measure digital advertising success

To launch a digital ad campaign and not track its performance is a little like throwing a pass and not bothering to look downfield to see whether it’s actually been caught (happy football season!)

Depending on the goals of your campaign, there are many different options for tracking advertising success. Below we’ve compiled a list of the most common metrics, the benefits of each, and when it makes the most sense to use them.

1) Impressions

Impressions = the number of times your ad is displayed. Impressions alone do not indicate engagement with the ad, just the number of times it was physically seen on screen. You would use this tracking method for a brand awareness campaign, where the main objective is to get the company name seen. This tactic is perfect for promoting brand new companies, launching in a new territory, a campaign promoting an event, etc.

2) Click through rate (CTR)

This measurement is valuable for tracking engagement. It is calculated by the number of clicks generated per impression of a banner ad, expressed as a percentage.

CTR = (click/impressions)*100%.

The metric is helpful for gaging level of interest in the ad’s creative and/or call-to-action.

3) Conversion rate

A conversion rate is the percentage of visits that resulted in the desired conversion action.

Conversion rate = Total conversions/visits*100.

Conversion rate tracking typically requires a tracking code to be implemented on the back end of an ad’s landing page. This can usually be done in your content management system(CMS) or in Google Analytics. This measurement requires tracking beyond clicks and usually involves a landing page form fill.

Conversion rate is one of the most important metrics for measuring the profitability of your marketing efforts.

4) CPA (cost per acquisition)

A CPA, or cost per acquisition, tracks how much the advertiser pays for a specific acquisition—for example, a sale, form submission or simply a click. Typically, the CPA “action” being delivered is an actual purchase. This tracking method is common on e-commerce and B2C sites but is less utilized by B2B companies where acquisition costs are much higher and establishing a project is much more involved; i.e. – more steps in the sales cycle.

5) CPM (cost per thousand impressions)

This tool doesn’t directly measure advertising success, but it is an important metric for evaluating and comparing costs. CPM indicates total cost per reach, or cost per thousand. Many online ads are priced on a CPM basis.

CPM = cost/impressions *1000

Despite various types of pricing for digital campaigns (by month, year, quarter, impression), calculating CPM helps media planners compare apples to apples.

6) Visitors

Driving traffic to a landing page or homepage is important for engaging existing and potential customers—but you can also measure total visits to any location on your site, like a specific landing page for a CPC campaign.

Measuring your total number of visits will give you a big picture idea of how well your campaign is driving traffic and can be tracked in Google Analytics. For even more specificity, track “new visitors” to see what percentage of your audience is being introduced to your site/company directly from your advertising campaign.

7) Bounce rate

The bounce rate demonstrates what percentage of visitors leave your website immediately, before taking the time to further explore various pages on your website.

For example, if a potential visitor finds your homepage after clicking on an ad, but upon landing on the page does not click on any additional links or related content, they will be considered a “bounce.”

The lower the bounce rate the better, as the more time someone spends on your site the more likely your ad was relevant, and the more likely they are to convert or request additional information.

8) Return on investment (ROI)

ROI is one of the most important measurements for advertisers because it demonstrates the quantifiable effect that advertising has on business. One way to define ROI in digital marketing is:

(Revenue - Cost of goods sold) / Cost of goods sold

For example, imagine you have a product that costs $50 to produce, and sells for $100. You sell four of these products as a result of digital advertising, so your cost is $200 and your sales is $400. Let's say your CPC total cost is $75, for a total cost of $275. Your ROI is calculated:

($400 - $275) / $275

= $125 / $275

= 45%

In this example, you’re earning 45% ROI .

Source: Google AdWords

Of course, tracking advertising ROI is easier said than done. It takes a lot of setup and planning at the onset of the campaign.


NOTE: One metric is generally not enough to measure success. Not sure where to start? We can help!