Even today, too many ad sales reps allow their agencies and advertisers to focus only on clicks or conversions when negotiating and evaluating online ad campaigns. Many marketers—especially in the business-to-business (b-to-b) and niche consumer spaces—still look at these metrics as the only measurements of a campaign’s success. While valuable and easily measurable, clicks and conversions only gauge the impulse interest/reaction to an ad. However, they do not come close to measuring the total return on investment (ROI) of a campaign.
See the diagram below—this is how many marketers (and sellers for that matter) see online advertising’s ROI chain, because it’s what is easily quantified. It’s easy to see how many impressions were delivered or e-mails sent. It’s also easy to see how many people clicked on the ad. And for some markets, it’s also easy to see the immediate revenue impact, and tie it back directly to the online ad. But this immediate impulse reaction is only giving a partial picture of how online advertising really works. The chart at right shows a more complete view.
In this diagram, everything in green can be tracked, but everything in blue cannot. Marketers often don’t like this, because their nice, neat world of quantifiable metrics gets blown apart. But whether we like it or not, the reality of online advertising is much more complex than many marketers and sellers want to believe. So we need to understand it, and equip our sellers to help their customers make the most intelligent decisions about their marketing investment. If they only invest based on immediate impulse/reaction, advertisers will miss big opportunities to impact their markets and drive new customers who are more selective in their buying habits.
Of course, this is not new to media—it’s what we lump under “brand impact.” Whether in b-to-b or consumer, advertising has a delayed impact. Even if someone does not click on an e-mail or Web ad, or does not consummate an online transaction that is directly tied to the ad, the ad can have far-reaching impact on revenue that is very difficult to measure. That ad can make readers more likely to recall and use the advertiser as a vendor when they are ready to purchase.
Eric Shanfelt is a 25-year digital media veteran and has been the Chief Digital Officer for several large publishing companies. He now consults with B2B, enthusiast and regional media companies on their digital platform, audience, and revenue strategies. You can reach Eric at firstname.lastname@example.org.