Aug 20 2012
Basis Team

How to Measure Branding Campaigns: Conversion Tracking 101


As marketing continues to evolve, we as an industry are being asked to assign value to the actions that our advertising campaigns are driving. As we log and analyze these actions, we begin to assign value to them based on their impact on our overall branding objectives. It is important to not only focus on macro conversions, but also look at the micro conversions – the day-to-day activity that takes place to move your customers through the purchase funnel.

Below is a brief tutorial on conversion tracking for the brand marketer:

What is a conversion?
A conversion is any completion of a call to action. It can be categorized as a click, a like, an impression, a download, signup, subscription, social media follow, video view, comment or purchase.

What is conversion tracking?
Conversion tracking is a metric that goes beyond the click-through rate (CTR) to show you how a campaign is performing, as well as a general path a consumer takes on the advertiser’s site.

With conversion tracking, you can track general data (homepage hits) or specific actions (form completions, email sign ups or even purchases).  This will give you a much more in depth picture of how effective your campaign really is.

For example, creative A is generating more clicks on your campaign, but creative B is bringing more qualified leads to your site that are actually converting to your desired goal (examples: downloading a coupon, signing up for an eNewsletter or requesting more information).  Without conversion tracking, you would be led to believe that creative A is the better performing ad, however, with the conversion data, we’re able to see that creative B is actually providing better results.

  1. Sales: Sales tags can record a number of variables including revenue, quantity, order ID, product ID and product information.  The advertiser’s web developer will need to include the variables listed in the conversion tag within the checkout process of the site in order to track the sales conversion data.
  2. Counter: Counts the actions, for example: number of times the page was visited, a button clicked, etc.

Within the counter method, there are two different conversion metrics: Post Click and Post Impression.

Post Click: This can give you great insight into what the consumer did after they clicked on your ad and went to the site.  Did they submit a request for more info?  Did they download a coupon?  Did they make a purchase?  Conversion tracking can help answer these questions.

Post Impression:  A wonderful metric that conversion tracking provides is post impression page views.  This happens when someone is exposed to the ad but does not click on it; if they later end up on the advertiser’s pixeled web page, a post impression conversion is counted.

For example:  You see an ad for a sale at XYZ Mall – you don’t click on the ad, but you do search for XYZ Mall and end up on their homepage.  Instead of thinking that the ad failed because you didn’t click on it, we can now see that it did, in fact, work because you still went to their site to get the desired information.

How does conversion tracking work?

  • A pixel (JavaScript code) is created in the campaign’s AdServer and placed on the advertiser’s website.
  • When someone is served the campaign ad, a cookie is placed on their computer (for post impression data).
  • If they click on the ad, another cookie is placed on their computer (tracking post click impressions).
  • When they go to a page with a conversion pixel on it, or click a pixeled button, a conversion is recorded in the AdServer.

In short:
While conversion tracking can help you paint a great picture of how your campaign is actually performing against your objective, the results will always be driven by the creative message.  What conversions matter to your brand the most?