How to Properly Measure the Success of your Banner Ad Campaign—CTR not included

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It’s no secret that we love banner ads. We could write an ode to them. A sonnet even. On a day we’re feeling especially cheeky, probably even a limerick. And for all the knowledge we have about banner ads in advertising and digital media, creating them, and maintaining campaign deadlines, one of the most oft-asked questions we get asked is: how do you measure the success of your banner ads?

It’s easily assumed that, as banner ads are often part of a larger digital campaign, they can be measured by the same means as all other digital marketing assets – namely click-through-rates (CTRs).

Well folks, you heard it here first—the success of your banner ads is not as cut-and-dry as only the CTA metrics alone.

We can see the train of thought there; click-throughs are a pretty reliable metric otherwise and if a user clicks on a banner ad, there should *theoretically* be an increase of sales, signups, site visits, or whatever the goal of your banner ad was, right? In actuality, the amount of clicks a banner ad gets is not a good way to measure the success of your banner ads. Mainly because—as you may be thinking right now—not many people actually click on banner ads. However, people see and process banner ads consciously and subconsciously, which is often much more valuable than a click, but also immensely harder to measure.

And so, we say: You can’t reliably measure the success of your banner ads by its CTRs!

Are you freaking out? You are, aren’t you? Well, pull it together friend, because we’ve got this.

How Banner Ads Work

Banner ads cater to two parts of the brain. They work to form the branding foundation in the part of the customer’s brain that focuses on long-term storage, but they also appeal to the more immediate, short-term decision-making part of the brain. Even offline, banner ads support remembrance and brand recall. It’s one of the most fetching qualities of banner ads if you ask us.

And so you can see why judging them based purely on the clicks they generate is unfair to our banner buddies. They are much better managed and evaluated when they are judged based on the number of customers that are influenced by the campaign.

The question still remains, though: how do you measure the efficacy of your banner ads?
While getting solidified and concrete numbers that correlate offline sales with online display ads is still a bit of a work in progress for the industry as a whole, we’ve got a few suggestions to get you started off on the right foot.

The Best Way to Measure Banner Ads

First, if you’ve targeted a specific location in your campaign and for the duration of your campaign up to a few weeks after it has finished, you’re receiving site visits from that location – your banner ad was a success! The same goes for brick-n-mortar stores. If you’re experiencing an influx of foot traffic and attention to a certain promoted product, that’s likely the result of a banner campaign that has laid the foundation in the long-term decision making part of your customer’s brain!

Close in hand with location, the same goes for a certain demographic. If you targeted a certain age range or category of people who are now finding their way to your site or store, high five yourself because that right there was a successful banner campaign.

Other than targeted visitors, is your website getting new visitors during the campaign? What is the activity on your site looking like? Are visitors surfing and then leaving only to return later and make a purchase? These are all indicators of the success of your campaign and are all ways in which you can measure a banner ad and its positive effect on your audience’s subconscious.

What do your social channels look like? Are they showing more mentions, shares, traffic, and more activity in general? This could also be because your banner ads are generating buzz by placing your brand at the forefront of your audience’s mind. (Or you’ve posted a cute dog video to your account which explains the excess of attention. But honestly, that’s a win too.) Your social channels are also the perfect place to mirror the messaging of your display banner ads and reach your customers at a different checkpoint!

There is also gross rating point (GRP). This is the technology that understands your online audience the same way that media outlets understand segments of TV viewers. It helps advertisers understand who is seeing the ad, whether it changes perception or not, and other information regarding the demographics and overall impressions. GRP might be one of the most effective ways to quantifiably understand the success of your online banner campaign at the moment.

If we had to pick the most reliable and important way to gauge the success of a banner ad, it would be the view-through rate (VTR) metric. According to bizible, “this metric gives marketers the ability to measure and attribute credit when someone sees an ad but doesn’t click on it. It’s a critical attribution feature for marketers who want to be able to put data behind their brand advertising.” VTRs determine behaviours, websites visited, and length of visit among other things, using profiles, cookies and network addresses to monitor the behaviour of the user once being exposed to the campaign materials. This offers much more concise, clear, and reliable information to base the question of the success of your banner ads on.

Banners are a much more multi-dimensional branding asset than they usually get credit for. They’re equally as effective for promoting certain products as they are for building brand awareness in the minds of your customers. Influencing long-term foundational decisions and short-term impulse decisions, their effects often reach farther than the online world that they’re limited to, making them a worthy investment for both online and brick-n-mortar merchants.