Measuring Display Ad Success With View Through Conversions

Ads on the Google Display Network can be a great way to reach more potential customers, but your conversion results can be a little underwhelming. Users on the display network just don’t have as much intent to buy as people who are clicking on ads in the search engine results pages, so if you’re comparing standard conversion metrics across search and display networks, you might get disappointed. Display ads don’t always lead to direct action, so it’s better to measure success in more indirect ways. That’s where view-through conversions come in.

A view-through conversion is a metric that’s only available in Google AdWords, and only in campaigns that have display network ad distribution. View-through conversions record instances where a user saw one of your display ads, did not click on it, but returned later via a search term and converted on your site. This metric helps you see the true impact of your display advertising. People don’t need to click on a display ad to see your branding and your offer. Many times, all it takes is an ad view in order to spark that customer interaction.

To set up view-through conversion tracking, go to the Tools and Analysis tab in your account, and select “Conversions.” Click on the “Advanced” tab and choose which conversion type you would like to enable view-through tracking for from the navigation menu on the left side of the screen.

Once you do this, you’ll get a few settings you can change:

View Through Conversion Options

Your view-through conversion window sets the time that the view-through tracking cookie expires. By default, it’s set to 30 days. This means that it will only track view-through conversions that occur within 30 days of the display ad view. You can set the window to smaller increments if you’re only interested in users who took quick action after seeing the ad, but 30 days is generally a good window to start with.

You also have the option to enable or disable view-through conversion search de-duplication. This is a fancy way of saying that you can choose your whether your search network conversion and your display network view-through conversion is counted on both the search and the display reporting, or just on the display reporting. If you’re concerned about these conversions being double-counted, you should enable this feature. But I recommend that you look at these reports separately to gauge the effect of both the view-through and the search term. This means that you probably want to keep this setting disabled unless you have a compelling reason not to.

View-through conversion reporting can help justify a display ad campaign that is getting lackluster click-through conversion performance. Your display ads might be driving a lot of customer curiosity, and you wouldn’t even know it without the view-through reporting. So before you shut off any of your display network campaigns that have been under-performing, take a look at your view-through conversion reports. You might be pleasantly surprised.

About Shawn Livengood

Shawn Livengood is a search engine marketing professional based in Austin, Texas. He has extensive experience managing pay-per-click ad campaigns for clients in various industries, from small home-based businesses to large international companies. You can connect with Shawn on Google+.
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