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Selecting media metrics that matter
June 3, 2021 | James Patrick Schmidt

Looking at media advertising options can be overwhelming. With the increasingly fractured behavior of consumers along with new advertising products that offer fresh promises and "proprietary methods" of reaching your audience, it can be tough to choose. And when selling these new products, everybody wants to talk about metrics.

I sit through dozens of media presentations every year, and every one of them has numbers to show why they are the best product for my needs. And they're not wrong, but they're not exactly right either.  The product you need - and the metrics that matter - depend on the circumstances of your campaign.

I like to think that every advertising product is the right one sometimes, and it's my job to figure out when that is. The trick with building a media plan, and a successful measurement plan to go with it, is to select the metrics that matter for your business before picking your ad placements. Here are a few of the metrics that we most often build campaigns around:

Hand flipping through magazine

Impressions

The simplest metric for any campaign is how many people had the chance to see your ad. This isn’t just for digital campaigns, but an impressions metric can be put together for print, out-of-home, TV and radio as well. While it feels like a basic metric, impressions are a critical part of building awareness and are essential for success with an awareness objective as well as helping to “fill the funnel” in lead generation.

Clicks and Click-Through Rate

This is the most over-emphasized metric in ad campaigns, often pitched as the “must-have” window to success. Clicks and click-through rate are an important step in the process, but they rarely represent a campaign’s end-goal. Unless you’re trying to increase pageviews to spread educational content or spread a message that lives on your landing page and won’t fit in an ad, these metrics will be secondary. Impressions are a better fit for awareness campaigns while conversions and conversion rate matter more for lead generation.

Conversions and Conversion Rate

For lead generation, conversions and conversion rate are the best way to measure success. Measuring a conversion typically means tracking how many people who clicked an ad went on to take a second action such as clicking to call a location, downloading an app, filling out a web form or using a tool on your site. This tracking can be more time consuming to set up because it typically requires tracking through your website’s analytics or advertising platform (like Facebook), but conversions and conversion rate provide invaluable information for every lead generation campaign.

Video Completion and Video Completion Rate

With the growing popularity and availability of digital video streaming ads, we can typically measure how many people watched the full video. This metric is not available from traditional video campaigns, but helps to demonstrate how engaged an audience is with your video on streaming platforms. Some streaming platforms do not allow skipping, but tracking video completions and video completion rate confirms that users were seeing your full message (and not just the first five seconds).

Cost-per-Thousand Impression/Click/Conversion/Video Completion

This last set of metrics, which can be paired with any of those listed above, is the best way to compare success across different ad placements and decide if the expenditures are worth it for your business. To determine a cost-per metric, you take the cost of advertising and divide it by the thousand impressions, clicks, conversions or video completions. I consider this the great equalizer, because when you apply a dollar figure to the metric, it is much easier to understand which ads are providing the most value. It’s best to run the cost-per metric for every campaign metric.

Putting it all together

Success can be measured in a lot of different ways, and selecting the right metrics for your campaign is important. That decision should be made upfront, and it should focus on what your business wants to get out of your ad campaign (as well as what you can measure accurately).

At MindFire, we build measurement into our strategic plan from the start and work with clients to make sure that your campaign reporting is filled with the metrics that matter to you. Need help with your next campaign? Drop us a line.

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