Understanding The Value of Display #DigIntoDisplay

Expensive, ambiguous, high funnel, fluff. These are just a few of the ways that I’ve heard clients describe blind-823530_1280concerns with running display campaigns.  While not entirely untrue, it’s also true that display can be low funnel when done correctly. Even when high funnel, if the appropriate tracking and attribution are in place, you’ll likely find that your display campaigns are adding value.  At the end of the day, whether display is right for you depends upon your goals, your strategy, and your budget. That’s a post for another day.  Today, let’s kick off the fourth post in our #DigIntoDisplay series by talking about how to make sure that you’re attributing appropriate value to your display campaigns.

What’s the Purpose?

How your display campaign is tracked should be dependent upon the goal of the campaign. Before building a display campaign – the first thing you should consider is the intended outcome:

  • Are you opening up more display because you’ve maxed out search volume?
  • Are you hoping to capture more low funnel traffic with remarketing?
  • Are you prospecting with lookalikes?
  • Are you trying to increase awareness?

These are just a few of the many reasons that you might consider display.

What Types of Things are Valuable to Track?

Before you go crazy tracking all the things on your site as conversions, which can serve to confuse things, consider the goal of the campaign and decide which metric makes sense. If your KPIs don’t align with your goals, then your display campaign is sure to fail. We’ve all been in situations where a display campaign was created with the intentions of driving awareness but was then later judged based upon lead generation.  Those campaigns are doomed to fail.

But Amy, we don’t just want to track impressions. Good! Please don’t! I’m not insinuating that display campaigns shouldn’t be accountable for performance. I’m merely saying that having appropriate goals in place will help you to make the most of your campaigns, which brings us to our next section!

Micro-conversions vs Click-Through-Conversions

Micro-conversions are performance indicators that show engagement but that aren’t necessarily the end goal.  Sometimes you’ll find that these are helpful ways to track display campaign value. For instance, if your goal is to increase awareness – maybe you want to measure the number of people that downloaded coupons, watched videos, or received a quote.  These types of actions show that they are aware of your brand and that they are engaging with it, even if they haven’t yet made a sale.

If you are using your campaigns for prospecting or driving more traffic, you can create lists based upon these actions and then target these people with a lower funnel campaign. Keep in mind that if you do this, the CPA needs to be low enough that you can hit them with another campaign without spending too much in aggregate.

If your display campaign is meant to be low funnel, though, such as retargeting – it makes the most sense to base performance on click-through-conversions.

Note: Kirk Williams lead an awesome #ppcchat a few weeks back about the glory of micro-conversions.  If you haven’t had a chance to check it out, you should read through the streamcap.  

So Then, What’s an Assisted Conversion Worth?

We talked a little bit in the last section about getting people to a micro-conversion with the intent of using another campaign to push them down the funnel.  Often times, display generates a ton of view-through conversions but not many click-through-conversions (conversion being the end goal: sale or lead – whatever it may be). I think many of us have written off view-through conversions as being redundant. However, to truly harness the power of display, you have to understand that there is value in assists.

Personally, I like to use the assisted conversion report in Google Analytics to see how many conversions were driven through assists.  The key, to me, is averaging the value of all leads driven against all cost to drive said leads (including prospecting) and making sure that the ROAS is positive. If you find that activating your display campaigns hasn’t added incremental conversions or if your display campaigns are tanking your ROAS, then they aren’t worth it.  If they are adding value, while still allowing you to maintain a positive ROAS then you’re on the right path.


It can also be helpful to look at the attribution model comparison and the multi-channel conversion report.  If you find yourself hankerin’ for some more information on multi-channel tips, you should check out the series we did earlier this year.