Home > online marketing, PPC, search > Evaluating Success of Online Display and SEM Campaigns

Evaluating Success of Online Display and SEM Campaigns

My blogmate has really learned how to motivate me. After weeks of being absolutely swamped in planning-buying-new business-reporting-competitive-POV-trafficking mode and unable to even think about posting, Lisa has finally found a topic I am jumping to write about in my spare time. One that all the research needed is my 4+ years of media experience with clients. She wants me to write about what success means for an online campaign!

Now success should be evaluated by the goals of the campaign, which it also should have been planned against. While Lisa and I are key educators in online media in general for many of our clients, it’s becoming apparent that many of them are comparing the results of Online Display and Search Engine Marketing against each other. While the strengths of each advertising medium should be compared at a higher level (which is a whole ‘nother ball of wax), here are our thoughts about how the individual components should be evaluated.

Online Display: Sarah
SEM: Lisa

Goal: Branding

Online Display Success: Brand alignment, ad placement (ownership, environment, etc) reach and frequency of target audience. If rich media involved – interaction rate, interaction time, etc.

SEM Success: For branding, the content network is great place to select sites to be served on. I’d select pay-per-click payment options (rather than CPM) and see how it goes. Increased visibility in search results may help to raise awareness and increase searches for your business. Using tools at Compete.com and Google Trends, you can see if keyword searches for your brand increase over time.

Goal: Site Conversions

Online Display Success: High CTR, can be tracked through to conversions by spotlight or floodlight tags.

SEM Success: Conversion tracking can be setup in Google and Yahoo to measure actions taken on the site. I’d also recommend, in addition to basic conversion tracking, use Google Analytics for pageview analysis, advanced goal definition, conversion funnel analysis, and various advanced conversion reports.

Goal: Mass Reach/Awareness

Online Display Success: Reach/Frequency of target audience, made easier by efficiency.

SEM Success: Mass reach can be achieved through search but you’ll want to make sure the traffic is still highly qualified. Widening a geo-target, increasing budget, and/or expanding keywords can increase the frequency the ads are served. Reaching the masses successfully to me would mean getting more conversions at an effective cost while branding through search.

*FAQs we all know and love:*

What is an average CTR?

Online Display: Since we are typically using display for brand purposes and paying for impressions, this is something I try to steer clear against focusing on, especially because even on a really good day 99.6% of online display ads will not get clicked on. Here is a must-have article on what to focus on instead, which cites .3 % as an overall average. Now in my experience with a wide variety of brands, I typically see more in a range of .05-.2%. In my book if it’s within that, no red flags are raised and the campaign could be “successful” based on goals, delivery, etc. And of course CTR all depends on a wide range of factors including creative, call to action, environment, competitive landscape, etc. A very passionate blog was recently posted by Cory Treffiletti about the topic that I couldn’t agree with more – please check it out!

SEM: For PPC search, the CTR can vary wildly depending on the type of business and keywords. For brand terms (you are bidding on your own brand name) I could see 5%-30% CTR. A high CTR is not necessarily a good thing. It could indicate brand confusion or poor natural search rankings. At least you’re getting them now.

For other terms, again, it can vary widely, but 1% and up would be an acceptable range. After all, the ultimate goal is not to get a CTR, but leads or sales.

What is an average interaction rate?

Online Display: Interaction rates can vary just like CTRs. Industry, creative, competitive environment, offer, advertising environment, etc, can obviously cause different outcomes, not to mention type of rich media. Also, unlike the hard data of a click (qualified or unqualified), interaction rates are measured differently. Some rich media vendors don’t account for accidental rollover for expandables. This can drive an interaction rate up but average interaction time down. What I’ve gathered from various rich media vendors are 5-11% interaction rate, 2.4-14 second avg interaction time. As mentioned, metrics vary on this, so know your goals, vendor, and variables!

SEM: Search begins with a user interacting with a search engine to find what they seek. Much can be learned from the keywords searchers use, as well as the action they take once on a site. In analytics, we can see how much time a visitor spent on a website by the keyword that led them there. Understanding how users search then linking that back to how users behave on the site can provide information to help shape search campaigns and other online marketing tactics.

  1. April 1, 2008 at 6:43 pm

    interesting.. funny because i’m actually on the other side, i’m the hopefully the site they are choosing to advertise on.

    google trends i hear is pretty sweet for tracking; i know google’s adsense has some pretty nice reporting tools. i’m a stats man myself and missing have the detailed stats on my blog like i did on my old website (avg of 200k uniques per year for 4 years, was getting mad traffic in my psp and xbox modding haydays).

    it really all comes down to advertisers finding a site that can actually deliver on content relevent to their product.

    and finally, i love how your a marketing nerd! 🙂 hehe.. you go girl!!!

  2. June 6, 2008 at 8:19 am

    Love the blog! And channel integration is near and dear to my heart. Got a LinkedIn group that you two should be a part of: Conspiracy to Change Advertising

    I hope you enjoyed the Eyeblaster IAB dinner. We are looking to do more in the twin cities.

  3. June 17, 2008 at 12:47 pm

    What I would really like to see is advertisers focus more on “Average Exposure Time” when looking at display campaigns.

    Publishers and pure-plays continue to add interactive web elements to their sites that keep a consumer on one page for longer periods of time. Video, flash slideshows, games, and other elements do not require more than one page to load on a consumer’s computer. Keeping one ad on a page for 5 minutes is a much better impression then an ad that shows up for 30 seconds on a story page. Yet many advertisers and agencies consider each of those impressions to be the same.

    Of the rich media companies I have worked with, only Unicast has ever reported Exposure Time to me. I don’t know if the other companies are unable or unwilling to provide this stat, but knowing exposure time on that one campaign made all the difference when optimizing it. (Click throughs doubled when we increased exposure time)

    If I were an online media buyer, I would focus on parts of websites where impressions tend to stay up longer (higher exposure time). Most sites don’t charge a premium for these positions yet, and they perform so much better than a standard unit.

  4. szielie
    June 18, 2008 at 7:03 am

    Yes Dan that would be a great metric! Goes with that hot engagement buzz!

  5. website designer
    February 18, 2010 at 6:04 am

    That is nice to definitely find a site where the blogger knows what they are talking about.

  1. June 24, 2008 at 9:33 pm
  2. July 22, 2008 at 1:09 pm

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