View-Through Conversions 101: Going Beyond Last-Click Attribution

When was the last time you actually clicked on a banner ad? Almost never right? But the truth is that we can measure the impact of a display ad through view-through conversions.

Display can do what search cannot.

Display can nurture a search. It can inspire a need or a want. With display, we can identify a potential customer by their unique characteristics (be it demographic, geographic, or behavioral) and introduce them to our products and services that they did not know existed (or had forgotten about). With display we can push that user down the purchase funnel with relevant ads that drives search activity and ultimately, a purchase.

The problem with display is that it rarely gets the last click. In 2014, the average click-thru rate on a banner ad was only 0.06%.

Search gets (most of) the credit.

It’s record for driving a return on investment is unmatched in the digital environment.

A user is in the market for a car. That user searches for a car using branded or non-branded key words. User clicks on a search ad and goes merrily down the path to purchase.

What are View-Through Conversions?

A view-through conversion happens when a user is exposed to a display ad, doesn’t click on it, but converts on the advertisers website at a later point in time.

Think about it. You’re the user. You are reading a fascinating article on the impact of trade sanctions on the commodities market (or watching a cat video). A banner ad for a new mattress at a great deal is served next to your article. You’re in the market for a new mattress, but you aren’t going to click on a banner ad that takes you away from what you’re doing. You’re going to open up another browser window and either go directly to the mattress-advertisers site, or you’re going to search in Google for the mattress-advertisers site and click on the advertisers’ search ad or organic listing. Maybe you do it immediately, maybe you do it on your lunch break or maybe you do it in a few days. Either way, that display ad nurtured and pushed you down the purchase funnel.

How are View-Through Conversions Tracked?

View-through conversions are tracked using our old-friend, the ‘cookie’. When you, the in-market mattress shopper, see that ad for a great mattress deal, the ad drops a tracking cookie into your browser. When you visit the mattress advertisers website and convert, we can then match you to the initial ad cookie using a unique identification number.

On mobile, things get a bit more complicated. When you’re tracking users across devices, we need to match the cookie to a device id to construct a user profile.

View-through is a metric that should be part of your display campaign tracking and analyzed at a higher priority than click-thru rate on your display buys.