3 Ways to Use Data to Optimize Campaigns

Posted on May 8th, 2013 by True Media

The modern digital marketing campaign produces a lot of data.   A LOT.  On any given campaign that I work on, there are hundreds of metrics that affect performance.  The acronyms in themselves can be mind-numbing, before we even get to the numbers.  Avinash Kaushik, Google’s well-known Digital Marketing Evangelist, gives this benchmark: “If you are not spending 30% of your time in 2013 with data, you’ll fail to achieve professional success.”  Strong words, but fortunately, the data is becoming more accessible every day.   Here are a couple of ways that I use data to optimize my digital campaigns.
Viewable Impression Rate (VIR) – the percentage of impressions that are actually shown in the user’s screen for at least one second.  When a page loads, some of ads are served below the fold, and are never actually seen by the user.  It’s common sense, but there is plenty of evidence that the more often an ad is in view, the more often it is clicked. Therefore, VIR is critical to comparing performance between publishers, as well as the placements within a site (e.g. comparing sports vs. entertainment sections of a news site).  Unlike some data points (like clicks and conversions), the viewable impression rate converges rather quickly, so you will be able to tell how well a placement is doing within the first few days of a campaign launch.
Benchmarks for viewable impression rate vary.  For premium placements with high CPMs, VIR typically should be above 80%.  On a campaign we ran recently for a national computer manufacturer, we noticed very low VIR within the first week of campaign launch on a premium site.  We worked with the publisher to increase above the fold impressions, which led to a noticeable increase in conversions and site engagement.  If you are using a real-time bidding platform, which typically has lower quality inventory, VIR can range between 25-60%.  Viewablility can be increased by adjusting bids for above the fold and below the fold placements.  For a normal run of site buy, we set the minimum benchmark at 50%, and often discontinue working with publishers that can’t deliver on this metric.
Verification Dashboard – Our 3rd party server, Mediamind, has recently released a great dashboard that gives demographic data on the users who were served ads for a campaign.  This allows us to evaluate, by site and placement, if we are reaching our target audience.  It shows if impressions are being served outside of the geography assigned to the campaign, allowing us to hold ad networks more accountable.  It also shows if ads were placed next to questionable content.   In particular for branding and awareness campaigns, this dashboard should be utilized frequently.
Event Tracking – In order to run a responsible digital campaign, it is imperative that every action that can be tracked is tracked.  This process starts with the ad server, and continues on the landing page via analytics software.  Google Analytics informs digital media campaigns by allowing advertisers to see how traffic from each campaign source is interacting with the client’s landing page and website.  If you are not using analytics software, then your campaign is essentially flying blind, bringing traffic to a landing page without anyway to know how qualified that traffic actually is.
Outside of the basic metrics that Google Analytics tracks, like Bounce Rate and Pages/Visit, you can evaluate which traffic sources are contributing to your campaign’s goals.  For a regional farm and home supply store, I use Google Analytics to track the revenue produced by email, paid search and display campaigns for their e-commerce site.  In evaluating search terms, not only can I see which keywords are bringing traffic, but which are profitably contributing to sales.
Google Analytics can also track actions on a page, like video plays or downloading a white paper, using Event Tracking.  This can be useful to track actions that your client sees as valuable, but doesn’t have a transaction on the site for.  I have used this feature to track social sharing, PDF downloads, and button clicks.  This information is found in the Events tab, by selecting the goal you want to examine, and then selecting Source as the secondary dimension.  In the example below, the event being tracked is clicks on the Where To Buy button.