Talia Pilorge

by Talia Pilorge | Digital Strategy

There are a ton of cool ad units out there that you can leverage for marketing campaigns. For brand awareness campaigns bought through direct or programmatic media, it ultimately comes down to measuring the performance of those creatives towards the targeted audience. Reporting can usually look at Cost per Impression, Cost per Click, and probably the most famous of the bunch, Click-Through-Rate. But how big of a story are these KPIs telling you?

Simply put, CTR is a look at how many people saw your ad and actually clicked on it to learn more. CTRs can be important to look at in campaigns for a couple of reasons:

  • A high CTR can be a good indication that your dollars are being spent in the right place and to a relevant audience.
  • CTR can be a great metric for evaluating creative performance, especially if you are testing multiple creative themes in the same campaign. One side note here, if your ad server is serving two sets of ads and allocated a 50/50 impression split to both, this actually makes it difficult to say for sure which creative drove the best performance. There are partners or platforms who can serve the creative and also rotate them evenly, and have algorithms that can optimize towards the creative theme driving a better CTR, ultimately helping to validate the winner.

Now let’s consider some of the not so great parts about relying on CTR as your source of truth for awareness campaigns:

  • A user may have landed on a website and accidentally clicked on an ad that came up on her screen. This happens more often than you think, and is pervasive on small touchscreen devices.
  • Users may have been drawn to the ad and clicked, but fell out once they landed on the page if the page did not meet their expectations.

One solution to these challenges is to take it one step further than CTR and to also report on the volume of Landing Page Visits, also referred to as LPVs. LPVs can indicate that you’re driving quality clicks to the webpage. If you happen to have a high CTR but low LPVs, don’t despair! These insights can sometimes inform business decisions that the user experience may need improvement on the landing page.

Let’s take a look at some scenarios to show how LPVs can be a valuable metric. We executed a digital media campaign for a client selling cloud service solutions targeting HR professionals. We bought the ad space directly from publisher networks. The ads that ran on tech publisher’s sites with niche audiences drove insanely high CTRs, but low LPVs compared to total clicks, potentially informing us there is familiarity to the client’s brand. However, the targeted audience reached through larger premium networks drove 2-3x lower cost per landing page visits and more traffic to the client’s website, informing us that our client’s users may be more likely to convert through premium networks.

One finding isn’t inherently more valuable than the other. If you are looking to generate brand awareness without requiring user action, a high CTR can inform you on which publisher sites to continue spreading new messages. But if you are also looking to drive traffic to your website and retarget users who have shown interest in their offering, the smarter solution might be to optimize towards landing page visits instead of CTR.

At Metric Theory, we take time to talk through campaign KPIs with our clients to not only manage reporting expectations but more importantly, to suggest the KPIs we’ll optimize towards to reach their goals. We have a dedicated ad operations director and media team who evaluate the list of our client’s URLs, pinpoint the actions to track on the destination page, and ensure all tracking needs are in place ahead of launch.

The next time you are approached with a new campaign opportunity, don’t hesitate to touch base with your team on the KPIs you’ll use to evaluate performance, as this may create the opportunity for your team to provide another POV and offer suggestions you may have never been exposed to before. While you’re at it, you can request landing pages ahead of time to walk through the user journey together and align on expectations. Looking at performance from these different angles can help drive even more room for improvement.