Why Clicks and Cookies Alone Won’t Cut it for Display
When pay per click (PPC) overtook display as the ruler of digital advertising, using impressions as the most important value metric took a backseat to clicks and conversions. But with concepts like impression share, viewthrough conversion tracking and cross-channel analysis, marketers need to take a second look at impressions to truly understand how to maximize ad return on investment.
For a long time, digital marketers have made millions of advertising decisions without the insights to make the best one. Bad decisions result in wasted budget and lost revenue. Now is the time to deliver more meaningful insights and make better decisions by taking a cross-channel approach to assessing impressions as a key metric. Hint: This means going beyond clicks and cookies.
That said, why should marketers make a concerted effort to bring back impressions by tying them to their paid search efforts? The answer is simple: to finally understand the true value of brand advertising, such as display, and use it to maximize financial returns.
While impressions became less prominent as PPC grew, their comeback shouldn't be a surprise as they're the most appropriate way to measure the branding effect that's long been assumed but so hard to prove. According to Forrester, 50 percent of marketers with revenues of $500 million or more are using both search and display advertising, demonstrating that marketers are investing in branding, even if they can't accurately measure its value.
Perhaps an even stronger reason for the return of impressions as a valuable metric is because search and display user experiences are converging. User expectation has been blurred when it comes to what constitutes a search versus display experience, as sponsored search results now include images and videos, which are commonly associated with display advertising.
So why the renewed focus on impressions to measure ad ROI? Cookies and clickthroughs are easier to measure and have performed the leading role in valuing display advertising over the past decade. However, relying solely on clicks and cookie-based approaches results in decisions based on data that are, at best, incomplete and, at worst, misleading.
Related story: 5 Tips for Making Display Relevant for Brands