Why is display advertising important? We live in a media-driven world. Consumers are bombarded from all directions with marketing and advertising. Your display ads are one way to help boost brand awareness and lift off your ad efforts.

Display ads are like an alley-oop in your marketing campaign. Display is less effective in driving actual conversions and more effective at assisting or “lifting” your total marketing mix. For example, if you add display, SEO/SEM/email/website traffic etc. will all increase, eventually raising profits – also known as “cross-channel attribution”.

The problem is that we don’t want to work with a “last-touch” model of attribution, where one overlooks all the points of contact with the advertiser except for the last and final ad clicked upon to drive the conversion.

Finding Attribution

Simply defined, attribution is allocating credit to each interaction that drives a desired action (visit, goal page view, conversion, etc.). While this is still a confusing concept for many in the advertising world, it’s important to try to get a basic understanding of the concept and how it applies to your own advertising campaign.

Using metrics like CTR to measure the effectiveness of a display campaign is difficult in that display is more of a branding advertising model and all CPC/CPL pricing models are direct response advertising models. So the crux of the question boils down to: we are anticipating to measure performance using metrics designed for direct response when our product functions according to a fundamentally different marketing scheme…hence we have to move beyond the click to assess effectiveness properly.

Types of Attribution

To understand how measurement or attribution works for your ad campaign, we need to fully explore the different types and how they work.

Lower-funnel or click-based attribution- incorporates assist clicks when allocating credit for conversions. This is better than last-click reporting but you will still need full-funnel attribution to give you the big picture.

Full-funnel attribution- builds on click-based attribution by incorporating assist impressions from display ads. This will help you determine the true impact of your display ads in creating awareness, consideration and preference for your brand.

There are three types of attribution methods:

  1. Statistical
  2. A/B testing
  3. Operational attribution, which includes the following graph – basically shows many points of contact

Making Sense of the Results

So what results do we see?

Recent market intelligence research has measured the incremental “lift” effect of display advertising upon affiliate consumer behavior. As summarized in the following graph, comScore found that, over a four-week period, display campaigns yielded a 46% lift (65% lift in week one) in visits to the advertiser’s website; a 38% lift (52% in week one) in keyword searches matching the advertised brand; a 27% lift in online purchases; and a 17% lift in offline purchases in the retail store.

Effect of Display Advertising

Other research reported even heftier measurements:

  • Salesforce reported an 80% lift in branded search volume and conversions when running a Display campaign parallel to a SEO campaign.#
  •  Apogee, a paid search consultancy firm, found a 300% lift in website visits when running a Display campaign parallel to a paid search campaign.

Measuring lift in final sales and across your marketing mix is an indirect means to track user engagement with your Display campaign without having to resort to clicks.


Additional Resources:

ComScore “Despite its Declining Importance for Many Display Campaigns, the Click Remains Important for Pharma Marketers”

eMarketer “Banner Ads, Beyond the Click”

iProspect “Search Engine Marketing and Online Display Advertising Integration Study”

Online Marketing Connect “Double the Impact of Your B2B Search Investment with Display Advertising”