Measuring online traffic for advertising campaigns

Digital advertising campaigns often are focused on raising awareness and attracting new customers to find out more about your products and services. Before focusing on online sales or real-life store visits, it is important to attract users to a source of information related to your brand. The most popular and effective way to do it is driving users (online traffic) to your website where they can explore the options of trying, buying, or using your product or service.

Evaluating the right metric

Data in your reports or website analytics platform can be easy to misinterpret due to the many similar terms that are used in the industry - clicks, users, sessions, visits, and pageviews can be the most common terms, however, the list of expressions and synonyms is close to endless.

  1. Clicks - the number of times that someone has clicked on your ads. The same user can click an ad more than once and it is important to keep that in mind
  2. Unique Clicks - the number of internet users that have clicked on your ad at least once
  3. Visits - the number of times your website was visited. Please note, that an Adform tracking point should be implemented and triggered for a visit to be counted. Besides that, users should allow Adform to set a cookie in order to track their behavior
  4. Sessions (Google Analytics) - in general, you might expect to see identical numbers when comparing data on Adform and Google Analytics. However, some differences are always present. There are several reasons for this but the key takeaway is the difference between two metric measurements on both platforms.

Comparing the metrics

Clicks are pretty simple to understand – a person clicks on your ad, then a click is registered in the reporting. When it comes to visits and sessions, it gets more difficult to distinguish them and especially compare to clicks.

The number of collected clicks purely depends on your campaign performance, meaning, how well the target audience is reacting to your creative, and how relevant the campaign settings are set. When it comes to further interactions with the website, many factors influence the difference, for example:

  • Loading time. The most recent studies are saying that the average Speed Index speed is 4.7 seconds on desktop and 11.4 seconds on mobile - each millisecond after that significantly increases the chance of a user quitting before the website and the tracking point loads
  • Internet connection. Depending on the country you’re advertising in, areas with slow internet connections might cause a large difference in visits and clicks
  • Privacy. In order to track a visit, the browser should be compatible with some technical requirements and the most important is a cookie. Based on the latest announcements from the browsers with the highest market share, this can decrease the number of tracked visits drastically over the upcoming couple of years
  • Different measurement platforms. Visits in Adform and Sessions in Google Analytics are different from a technical standpoint. Especially the process of registering a session is complicated and requires more loading time and interaction with the website

So, to sum up the above - clicks indicate the performance of your campaign directly while website metrics can be very different due to a number of technical reasons, ranging from load time to different attribution logic in each platform of website analytics.

Website visits as a KPI

Even though website visits and sessions often do not correlate with campaign performance, it can be used as a campaign performance indicator within specific circumstances and caveats in mind.

If you are aware of the methodology of your selected website traffic analytics platform and you have a benchmark to achieve, make sure that you have the following campaign settings enabled:

  • In Adform, ‘only bid on matched users’ option should be selected in order to avoid buying impressions for users that are not allowing cookies to be set;
  • Use ‘Click Quality’ buying algorithm in order to increase the number of clicks leading to website visits;
  • Target only desktop devices to avoid accidental clicks happening on touch screens;
  • Use UTM parameters for different campaigns and banner sizes to track the rate of clicks and visits.

After that is done, consider applying the following optimizations once per week:

  • Analyze the domains that generate a lower than expected click-to-visit ratio and exclude them from your campaign
  • Analyze the banner sizes and ad exchanges the same way and exclude the underperforming sources once a week
  • Important - do one change at a time and do not over-exclude things. Otherwise, it will be difficult to track the success and impact of your optimizations if you don’t know which exact change caused the improvement in results.

So, it is important to have in mind that clicks and all website traffic-related metrics often do not correlate. They can be different due to the number of technical reasons and even the device type that the end-user is browsing on. Compare these metrics only in cases when you have a certain historical benchmark, as well as when you are using one platform to measure the results.

Website visits can be a KPI of your campaign, but make sure that you are treating it as a goal to be achieved, not as something that should be positive by default. Then, apply optimizations for device types, publishers, ad exchanges, and banners.

Of course, feel free to contact us at support@adcombi.com in case you have any questions.

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