Are your ad reports lying to you?
This post is a part of our PESO model blog series – a guide to the basics of paid, earned, social and owned content.
For businesses who are new to the digital advertising game, the amount of data gleaned from ad campaigns can seem overwhelming. Once you start paying to promote your content, your ads’ impressions and engagements should start pouring in. But how do you put all that new data into context? It’s simple – you need ad reporting to show you what’s working and what’s not.
Now, it’s not as easy as just counting how many “likes” you receive and calling it a day. To the untrained eye, ad reports could contain misleading information. Learning how to interpret that data correctly makes all the difference.
To help you get on the right track, Doug Lacombe, Communicatto’s president and founder, and Robin Eldred, Communicatto’s director of advertising, provided their insights on the matter.
Learn the truth about ad reports:
1. Focus on your goals
“What you don’t want in online advertising is what could be called ‘the billboard effect’ where all you measure is drive by traffic, but there’s no evidence that contributes to your business goals,” Lacombe advises.
Setting a firm goal is the only way to kick off a successful ad campaign. At the end of the day, what are you really paying for? Traffic is one thing, but it’s much more important to monitor whether or not your audience is completing actions that align with your campaign’s objectives (like downloading your whitepaper or signing up for your conference).
2. Keep your audience in mind
As with everything else in digital marketing, your target audience should always be your primary consideration. However, whether or not you’re reaching the right audience is not always obvious. Taking a closer look at your ad report’s demographics will offer up some clues – are you reaching the right age range? Location? Profession?
“Don’t forget to analyze the audience that consumed your ads,” Eldred adds. “A click from a target prospect is much more valuable than a non-prospect. Don’t know who clicked your ads? Consider a better ad channel.”
3. Get familiar with vanity metrics
“Vanity metrics like website visits or impressions can be misleading,” says Lacombe. “What really matters is what people do AFTER clicking an ad. It’s action you should be looking for, not drive bys.”
“You can easily amass all the impressions and even visits in the world, but how does that help your business? Unless it translates into business, or readers, or subscribers, it’s a whole lot of nothing.”
Vanity metrics can provide a nice ego boost, but don’t lose focus on the stats that really make an impact on your business’ objectives.
4. Not all engagement is equal
To further this point, you’ve also got to make sure the metrics you do use are measured fairly and correctly.
“When reporting on ad metrics, be sure to compare apples to apples,” says Eldred. “A Facebook ‘like’ is not the same as a video view, nor is it the same as a search engine ad click. Roll your data up, and measure the same KPIs across different channels whenever possible.”
5. Choose the right platforms
“Ad platforms are not all equal,” Lacombe says. “Some are efficient, some not as much. Some have mass audience, others are more niche. Buying every platform is the same mistake as buying every radio station in town – some, by definition, will be off target. That is wasteful and inefficient.”
The success of your campaign hinges on your audience’s participation; use your ad reports to ensure you’re targeting the platforms your audience actually uses.
Ad reporting is invaluable, but its effectiveness is limited for marketers with little experience. If you need further advertising assistance, make sure to get in touch with us.