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There’s a common misconception that Display (banner) ads are just for “awareness” or “branding”, not for conversions. Nothing could be further than the truth.

Of course it depends how you use them. You can use them in an awareness kind of way (just promoting a brand or logo without encouraging a call to action), or you can use them in a conversion kind of way.

Using them in a conversion kind of way means promoting something that you want people to buy or sign up to, OR by encouraging them to engage with you in a way that will ultimately lead to a conversion once they trust you enough. For example, promoting content that is part of an early stage sales funnel.

The problem is, a lot of people don’t click Display ads. It’s like people think there is something icky about clicking them, but that doesn’t mean they don’t work.

So how do you measure how successful they are, when people are not clicking on them?

There’s a couple of things we need to unpack here:

1) How to measure the success of a Display ad
2) How to encourage people to convert from a Display ad

The trick with Display ads, and I have to admit this is something I only learned recently, is that you need to use “Website” conversion tags in your list of conversions, not conversions imported from Google Analytics. This is because the “Website” conversion tags include view-through conversions and cross-device conversions.

These are hugely important to track if you use Display.

Definition – View-through conversions: View-through conversions are the conversions you get attributed to your Google Ads advertising if someone views your Display or Video ads and converts without ever clicking on them. The period of time that is counted towards the View-through conversion is defined in your conversion settings, for each conversion separately. It is called the view-through conversion lookback window.

Definition – Cross-device conversions: Cross-device conversions are the conversions you get attributed to your Google Ads advertising if someone clicks an ad on one device and then converts on a different device.

I was looking at a client’s account yesterday, and when you look at the Display ads without considering view-through conversions, most of them appear to be doing very poorly. (Return On Ad Spend = 0). But when you consider view-through conversions and cross-device conversions, all of a sudden these Display ads jump up significantly in conversion power. One of these Display ads had a Return On Ad Spend as high as 7.5X. I’m sure other advertisers could get higher; this particular advertiser had an average ROAS of 2.5X and a highly competitive market. So the Display ad had 3X the conversion power of the Shopping and text ads.

This is not a huge surprise to me because of the following secret.

Are you waiting to hear the secret?

In this Display ad, I targeted people who had been to the competitors website or had searched the competitors’ brand terms. Yup, good old guerrilla tactics. You can do this with custom in-market audiences.

These people visited my clients’ competitor’s website and then all of a sudden they were seeing ads for my client’s brand. Of course they wanted to check out the difference between the two products. They might have seen the ad on their phone, later jumped on their computer, searched for my client’s product and then decided to buy it. Never clicking the Display ad once!

This brings us to the tip about encouraging people to convert from a Display ad. The #1 secret here is targeting. In your Display ad audiences you want to target very niche audiences. Either remarketing audiences, similar audiences, or specific in-market, custom intent or custom affinity audiences. Then, use that ad to promote a product (for retail), a landing page (for B2B) or content marketing such as a blog article (B2B).

To see the results, you need to ensure you have “Include View-through conversions in All conv. column” ticked and then use ‘All conv. value’ as your metric of choice. As long as you are using Website conversions and you have them installed correctly, you will see the view through and cross-device conversions show up in your revenue and leads.

Google Ads conversion settings

Ian Gale - Sleepwise Clinic

Petra was instrumental in pulling all our clinic's web analytics into one easy to read, dynamic report that's accessible to me at any time, and works with our EXACT booking system.

This has allowed me to see, at a glance, what marketing initiatives are working, need tweaking, or changing altogether, saving me both time and money. I can't recommend her or her analytic services enough.

Ian Gale SleepWise Clinic Analytics Dashboard August 1, 2018

Sophie Abnett

Here at 1834 Hotels we centralise the marketing for many different hotels. It can be an enormous undertaking to monitor and track the performance of each one, especially when they are all on separate webpages.

Petra helped to resolve this difficulty by creating a central hub in Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics with Cross-domain tracking and Ecommerce as well. She created many valuable analytics dashboards and reports that draw from the centralized source. Now that we have all the analytics tracking working it has improved the accuracy of our reporting and the insights have helped develop better marketing strategies.

Petra’s skills and wealth of knowledge is fantastic. I would recommend Petra without hesitation.

Sophie Abnett Digital Marketing Project Manager at 1834 Hotels Ecommerce / Hotel Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager & Google Data Studio Integration April 23, 2020

charles marois olsa tools

Working with Petra was a great experience, communication was easy and she is very organized. She also provided detailed reports of the work she had done and the results generated. We would definitely recommend her services.

Charles Marois CEO, Olsa Tools Ecommerce Google Ads April 23, 2020

Erica Stacey Scout Digital

I recently worked with Petra to improve my understanding of Google Tag Manager.

Petra not only provided a solid overview of GTM set up and event tracking, she also provided many tips on best practice, and answered the questions that I didn't even know to ask!

Petra is patient, fun to work with, and her analytical programming mind is hell bent on finding the BEST solution to any data, analytics or tracking problem.

Erica Stacey Scout Digital Marketing Strategy Session June 21, 2017

Nadia Rossi

It has been an absolute pleasure working with Petra over the last year and a half. 1834 Hotels centralises marketing for over 20 hotels around Australia, all with different branding and websites. On an analytics level Petra’s skills have allowed us to monitor and track our marketing efforts in the digital space. Bringing Petra onboard to manage our Google Ads was one of the best marketing decisions we have made. Her thoroughness and attention to detail is incredible, her insights have helped develop better marketing strategies and demonstrate to shareholders return on investment. I would highly recommend working with Petra.

Nadia Rossi Digital Marketing at 1834 Hotels Ecommerce / Hotel Google Ads April 23, 2020