We’re happy to be announcing the release of the first phase of our conversion tracking dashboard today for all advertisers on the AdRoll platform. We believe it will help our advertisers quantify the results of their retargeting campaigns because it will help answer this question:

How do you measure the impact of a retargeting campaign? What seems like a fairly simple question is extremely difficult to answer.

campaign performance

You could look at impressions and CTR and click data over the budget to get to a cost per visitor number. You could then compare that against CPC data for other channels to see how things stack up. Generally speaking, visitors that come in through retargeting campaigns are pretty high value visitors that often convert so this is an acceptable metric. But it doesn’t get to the true ROI of campaigns by knowing the actual number of conversions.

How do we get the number of conversions?
Well, one answer is to look at click-thru conversions. Click-thru conversions are a good metric, showing the number of people that click on an ad and then convert to a customer. While this is a commonly used metric it often ignores the larger population of people that are influenced by the ad, but don’t actually click on it.

How do we know who has been influenced by the ad?
Well, we could start to look at view-thru conversions. This is a relatively new metric that is starting to gain popularity among several advertisers and platforms. A view-thru conversion means that the user saw an impression of an ad and then later came back to the site through some channel (usually either direct or search) and then converted to a customer. The problem with this metric is in how to count a view-thru conversion. Would you be ok attributing a conversion to someone that saw an ad 24 hours ago and then came back and converted? How about 90 days after seeing an impression? How about 1 hour after seeing an ad? It’s a subjective metric that is important, but also difficult to measure accurately.

How can one measure the overall impact of a campaign without too much subjectiveness?
One way is to simply look at the overall conversion ratio for your campaign — that is conversions over total prospect list. The chart above shows actual data from an AdRoll customer — displaying the conversion ratio before and after the launch of a retargeting campaign. For example, if you have been converting 100 customers out of every 10,000 visitors, that would be a 1% conversion ratio. If you tracked all of those 10,000 visitors as prospects for a retargeting campaign and advertised to them and then got a total of 120 customers, that means you would be at a 1.2% conversion ratio. This would mean that you’re getting an incremental 20 conversions for whatever cost you incurred. This metric isn’t perfect either, since there are many different things that could affect your conversion ratio including changes in your signup process, big press announcements, etc– but I believe it’s a good way to measure impact as long as you consider other factors while you’re doing your analysis. This metric ignores the complexity of view-thru conversions and also gives proper credit to the awareness building impact of banner ads without relying on click-thru conversions.

So this is why we’ve focused our first phase of conversion tracking on the overall conversion ratio. In future releases you’ll see additional conversion tracking capabilities. For any current advertisers, you’ll see the Conversions tab when you first log in to your advertiser dashboard and we encourage you to check it out and view your results.