If you ask any PPC expert for the one thing that make their life easier they’d probably say “more accurate conversion tracking”. In an attempt to deliver this, Google have today released a new ‘View-Through Conversions’ metric for their AdWords platform, providing advertisers with an additional means to measure the success of their campaigns.
The new tool is used exclusively with display ads featuring on the Content Network and is designed to track how many conversions result after a user has seen an ad rather than clicked on an ad. If you think about it for a moment, this is a significant development and one that is actually far more important than on first impression (if you excuse the pun).
The benefit of the metric is that advertisers will begin to develop an understanding of the visibility that advertising on the content network can bring and the conversions that can be generated as a result. After all, users might not necessarily click on an ad but rather read the ad and remember your brand name for later. All well and good. but what this doesn’t account for is the users who saw your ad but know about your brand or company already. For example, I know about Apple and I know that their site is at www.apple.com. If I’m feeling flush I might go on there and order myself a brand new Macbook Pro. That purchase is entirely influenced by my past experience and knowledge of Apple and is nothing to do with advertising. But if I’ve been on a page somewhere (let’s say the Mac News Network) that features content network ads for Apple, there’s a good chance my purchase will be recorded as a View-Through Conversion, which is an entirely false assessment of the effectiveness of the ad.
Therein lies the problem – with View-Through there’s simply no way to assess whether someone converted because of the ad or despite it. If you optimise your AdWords campaigns based on these conversion statistics, you may well be lowering their effectiveness and putting your budget into campaigns, sites or activities that simply don’t work.
To effectively measure the effectiveness of these ads you would need to run a control on the campaign, looking at how many people who didn’t see the ad bought something anyway. Only then would you start to have an accurate understanding of whether the investment was worthwhile.
Despite that, there’s no doubt it’s a very useful addition to the online marketer’s armoury, albeit best taken with a dose of scepticism.