This is a great time of year to be a sports fan.
Baseball playoffs are here, and every weekend brings a full slate of college and pro football games. Every game has its own set of stats to follow, but just looking at the stats the following day doesn’t necessarily tell you who won the game.
In baseball, the team with more hits is not always the winner. In football, the winning team could have fewer total yards or more turnovers. While the stats can provide you with an educated guess of who the winner is, they don’t tell the full story of the game.
Digital advertising is very similar if you think about it.
The Similarities of Digital Advertising and Sports
- Display ads have impressions and clicks.
- Social Media ads have impressions, clicks, and shares.
- Video has impressions and views.
At this point, most of us understand that these metrics only tell part of the story. Let’s use display advertising as an example. The click-through rate, or CTR, is not the best way to measure the success of a campaign, and yet we often end up in a “CTR = success” conversation with our advertisers.
How do we get out of that conversation?
1. First, remember that the end depends on the beginning.
That means you have to begin with executing a successful discovery meeting. Understand the desired business results they want. Identify their target consumers, their key decision-making criteria, and how your client measures up against their main competitors for those criteria.
Once you have a good handle on the problem you're trying to solve, know what a win will look like to them. In other words, are they looking to generate leads, sales, or increase traffic to their site or store for a promotion?
You need to have a solid understanding of how they will determine if their investment was well spent with you – know the things or measures they will examine to determine success, not what you think is important.
2. Second, we need to re-educate.
The CTR, for example, has been used in the past as the measure of digital success or failure when it is neither.
Keep in mind that only 16% of all internet users click on a display ad, but even in the absence of a click, display advertising still has a positive impact on consumer behavior. If you have access to view through data, you can use that to show that impact.
The CTR can be an indicator of how the game is going, but a high CTR does not equal success any more than a low CTR equals failure. The CTR can help you determine the effectiveness of your creative or your targeting. You can use it as a guide to help steer the campaign in the right direction, but it should not be used as the only metric to determine a win.
Measure the success of a digital campaign the same way you would with any other media, based on what your client is trying to accomplish.
The key is to ensure you understand the business results your client wants to accomplish, then identify the actions consumers take along the way to that result and identify the right metrics to discuss.
For example, do they visit the website for more information or call the business? If it is the first, you should include website traffic in your discussion – even website traffic that is not coming directly from a click. Remember, at the end of the game, the stats don’t name the winner… the scoreboard does!
*Editor's Note: This blog was originally written in 2013 and has since been updated.