A view-through conversion is a measure of the number of online conversions that users complete after they see--but do not click--a display ad on a website.
How a view-through conversion is tracked, recorded and analyzed will affect your conclusions about the effectiveness of your ads. Here are some things to keep in mind when collecting and analyzing them.
There are pros and cons to keep in mind when you're looking at view-through conversions as a stand-alone metric for the performance of your display ads, which should affect how you analyze and optimize your campaigns.
We know advertising has influence. That's why we see so much of it on a daily basis.
But, it's very important that we do the best we can to give the right amount of credit where credit is due. This way, we know how to optimize campaigns and budgets to get the maximum impact possible.
The big issue with view-through conversion tracking is the level of transparency they bring for communicating what's really going on. The reason this is such a big issue is that many agencies and vendors have practiced over-attribution of credit to them in the past. Or they've manipulated ad placement in ways that benefit the numbers they ultimately report. For an extreme example, a vendor could report to you 100 view-through conversions. But, if you dig deeper, you find that all of the ad impressions were below-the-fold of the page, came at a dirt-cheap price and were never seen by the audience. The vendor just happened to place your ad on a site where your audience frequents, and VTCs were recorded when the audience found you in other ways and converted.
This is what makes measuring the impact of VTCs on other marketing channels that ultimately get credited with last-click conversions so hard. It's also why you can't count VTCs as actual conversions. Now, this doesn't mean you shouldn't count them at all. You just shouldn't count them the same. It's misleading. Instead, you should measure the influence they have on your conversion activity. The difference is that you don't give them as much value as a conversion, but you give them some value because they were a part of the sales funnel. How much value you give them depends on a lot of factors. But, once you establish this value, you have a great guide that will protect you from overpaying for your ads and enable you to better optimize for maximum effectiveness moving forward.
If you use view-through conversions in this way, they are a valid and wonderful metric. In fact, they become an even more reliable metric than clicks or conversions. This is because the majority of Internet users won't even click ads on content sites because they're not actively looking. Clicks and conversions typically fit the search world, but not the display world. Display is not there to fulfill a desire. It's there to create it.
So, the question remains, how much of an impact are my ads having on my site's last-click conversions? I'll leave you with one way to get a good sense: Do an A/B test of your ad against a public service announcement. Would the customers have come to your site and converted anyway? If you run this kind of a test, the results should give you a great idea of the incremental impact your ads are having on your business.
Mike Fleming specializes in Analytics and Paid Search for Pole Position Marketing, a leading search engine optimization and marketing firm helping businesses grow since 1998. You can follow Mike on Twitter at @SEMFlem. Mike enjoys playing, writing and recording music along with playing basketball to get his workout in. He resides in Canton, Ohio with a girl who threw a snowball at him one day…then married him.
Mike and the team at Pole Position are available to help clients expand their online presence and grow their businesses. Contact them via their site or by phone at 866-685-3374.
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