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Are you tracking the right things in your ad campaign?

Posted February 11, 2013 by fran @ 2:44 pm

Whether you’re running online ads to promote your brand, or placing them on your site for revenue, you should recognize the importance of tracking your numbers. After all, how would you know if those ads are doing your site or company any good? Measuring your campaign data allows you to see what’s working and what isn’t. It tells you if you’re reaching your customers, how your audience is responding, and what you can do to improve.

However, while keeping an eye on your insights and analytics is truly a step in the right direction, it’s important to note that this only works if you’re tracking the right things. Some people (both publishers and advertisers) fall into the trap of buying into vanity metrics.

The concept, which was introduced by serial entrepreneur Eric Ries, pertains to those numbers and data that seem huge and important, but are actually useless and empty. Examples of such metrics include raw downloads, page views, and number of users. And while these metrics are certainly important, a lot of companies focus solely on these numbers without bothering to dig deeper.

Do not fall for this trap, and instead strive to avoid the hype of vanity metrics. The best way to do this is by goal examination. Ask yourself why you’re in business and what you want to achieve with your ad campaigns. Is it to get more customers? Do you want to increase engagement? Maybe boost site membership? The only way to determine which metrics really count is by answering these questions, so do not skip this step.

Once you’ve identified and clarified your goals, look into the metrics that directly affect these goals. For instance, if you’re a membership site and your goal is more engagement, then the right metrics to track would be number of active users, average time on site, etc, as opposed to simply tracking sign ups or website hits. If your goals is to make money, then instead of simply tracking your site’s daily visitors, you need to pay attention to the percentage of users that actually hit the buy button.

Only when you’ve acted upon the right metrics will you be able to correctly determine the direction that you need to take your campaign. Wondering where to advertise next? What copy is the most effective? Which ads are worth spending on money on? Then look to your actionable numbers for answers, instead of checking out the sexy (but empty) vanity stats.

Not sure where to start? Having a hard time determining the numbers that you should track? Don’t be afraid to seek help. (Better to ask for help now and get answers rather than stay silent and keep doing the wrong things.)

The Internet has a lot of helpful communities and forums that can give advice on where to take your ad campaign. Check out these sites and see if you can find answers there. Or better yet, consult with your ad network and see if they have any recommendations. Most advertiser and publisher support representatives are more than happy to dish out suggestions, so when in doubt, give your ad network a call or send them an email.

Image credit: CarbonNYC on Flickr

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