Which Ad Metrics Add Up to Success? 


When you ask consumers what marketing excites them, it’s typically the creative that comes to mind. Whether it’s a Nike ad that moves people to tears, or a Burger King “Whopper Detour” that drives app downloads with penny promotions — only at McDonald’s! — the creative is often the most memorable aspect.

Of course, those of us on the inside know that, however exhilarating, creative is a means to an end. Marketing success is a story told in numbers. The question is, which numbers matter most today? 

Engagement is only part of the story
The click was a big deal in the early days of digital because it was really the first time (outside of direct response) that brands could actually measure the impact of creative. Today, you can evaluate a campaign based on video views, video completion rates, swipes, taps, time spent, likes, shares, to name just a few. That’s interesting data, and it’s easy to get caught up in these details. But there’s more to the success story than engagement.

When we see extraordinary engagement rates on mobile creative — benchmark-breaking click-through, 90% and higher video completion rates, long engagement times — it’s satisfying to know that a creative clicked, so to speak, with the target audience. But it’s also our job as marketers, agencies and enablers to ask the more difficult questions: Is this the kind of success that impacts the business?

For many brands, the answer is “Yes.” Time spent with creative and video can lift brand awareness and build a stronger brand-consumer connection. There’s a lot of value there. But what if your campaign objective is not brand awareness? Say your brand has good awareness but you want to move a new product off the shelf? Brands generally build awareness to ultimately build sales, but thinking about other metrics could be useful for a new product that people may not know about. 

Driving real-world action 
Forrester Research reports that half of all retail sales in the U.S. are digitally influenced. Meanwhile, time spent on mobile is surpassing that of desktop and even television. This means that shopper marketers risk being left behind if they don’t connect the dots between mobile experiences and shopping experiences. There are several measurements that come into play here: purchase intent, foot traffic, and sales. 

Purchase intent can be measured as part of a brand study, typically as an add-on for a campaign. It’s a useful metric because it helps quantify the impact of strong creative. That is, the creative didn’t just increase awareness and favorability of the brand (though that can be measured, too), it also lifted the consumer’s propensity to buy a product. 

Foot traffic offers next-level insight on the campaign. This goes beyond theoretical data to help marketers understand how effective a campaign was at driving consumers into retail locations. Metrics such as number of visits, visits per store, and cost per store visit help quantify movement deeper into the purchase funnel. 

Last, but definitely not least, is sales. Sales metrics draw a direct line from your campaign to product sales, sales lift and return on advertising spend (ROAS). A strong sales measurement partner can help you understand sales lift across national store locations, incremental sales on the featured product, and even halo sales on related offerings. Sales measurement takes a lot of the mystery out of advertising’s impact. 

Every detail impacts success
Campaign success isn’t just about choosing the right metric. The entire campaign needs to be designed to support that goal. 

Consider a children’s allergy medicine. Once upon a time, targeting parents during allergy season was sufficient. In the modern landscape, where consumers are online everywhere and all the time, the challenge is making connections with the targets when they’re most apt to add it to a shopping list, drop by a store, or make a purchase.

Of course, creative choices are critical, too. If the goal is to drive parents running errands to Walmart, for example, features like store locators and calls-to-action that inspire consumers to “find the nearest store” can help move the needle. Co-branded creative can help support foot traffic where the product is carried. 

Similarly, coupons and other incentives can help convert the targets, whether their building shopping lists at home or in the store. Even a well-timed standard banner can serve as a powerful (and cost-effective) reminder at the point-of-sale. 

What next?
It’s never been so easy to connect the dots between advertising, intent and purchase, but the many levers that influence those metrics and the volume of insights that can inform optimization can be overwhelming. That’s why it’s so important to understand which goals are most important to each campaign, and to design strategies that support those objectives through every aspect of planning, creative and measurement. Otherwise, that great creative won’t matter at all. 

About the Author
Richard Black is chief marketing officer at Aki Technologies. He is a global strategic marketer who has worked in consumer marketing for the last 15 years. He previously worked at Campari Group. His global experience enables him to brings fresh insight into the martech world.