Beyond the Click

If you’ve ever read AdJoke, you’ll know that I’m a big advocate for better metrics online – especially when it comes to display advertising. I’m sick of measuring clicks and impressions. They are useless metrics that really don’t tell you anything about brand recall, message takeaway and purchase intent. Sure, you can tell if someone went to your site but let’s be honest, it wasn’t just the display ad that got them there.

Abbey Klaassen has a recent article for AdAge that interviews a few analytics experts (from ComScore, Organic and others) about tools that measure beyond the click. It’s a fascinating read and well worth it if your clients care about actually learning how their campaigns did (which most, hopefully, do).

One of my favorite quotes from the piece:

“John Squire, chief strategy officer of web-analytics firm Coremetrics, which today is launching a service that helps marketers give proper credit to their many online ads, likens it to an offline example: You’re headed to the supermarket and on your way in you see the big sign in the window advertising ground round for $3.99 a pound. You need some anyway, so you buy it. In the online world, which measures the last ad seen, that sign alone would be given credit for your purchases in the store. But it’s quite likely that you were going shopping in the first place because you saw something in the weekend circular that you wanted to buy or maybe you heard a radio ad. Under the last-ad-attribution model, the circular is worth, at worst, nothing, and at best far less than the ad for ground chuck in the storefront.

So true. Just because you clicked on an ad doesn’t mean it should take all the credit for driving purchase. Sure, it probably helped but so did the mass TV buy at 1500 GRP’s, or the out of home boards that you couldn’t miss on the drive home, or the newspaper ads that you didn’t really read but vaguely remember seeing.

How do we get better metrics?

One option is through ComScore’s tool Brand Metrics. The tool helps to measure 10 different metrics including aided / un-aided brand awareness, improved attitudes towards the brand and purchase intent. The company has provided an overview and a fascinating report on some of the findings from the tool thus far. Here’s a crazy-interesting one:

“Online ad exposures also yield a lift in various important online behaviors, such as brand site visitation and trademark searches. For example, a substantial lift in visitation to the advertiser’s Web sites can be observed in the weeks following an exposure to a display ad, even though click rates are less than 0.1 percent. Specifically, there was a 65 percent increase in lift in the week following the first ad exposure and a 46-percent increase over the four weeks following the first exposure, underscoring the latent branding effect.

What a great find. I noticed this on a recent campaign. We had a huge surge of traffic to the site due to a online partnership and a few days later their was a secondary spike. We had no idea what caused the spike – there was no specific media buy or presence to cause such a surge and, after reading this finding, it could be attributed to the people who saw our ads but just never clicked and came to the site a few days later.

Tools like this help us learn, get beyond the basics and improve our campaigns. The next time a media ‘guru’ presents results with just clicks and impressions, ask them what the unaided awareness of your display campaign was and watch them squirm.

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