14 Jul Ad Tracking: What It Is & How to Do It
Back in the days of Mad Men-esque advertising agencies, tracking how many people engaged with a particular ad campaign was nearly impossible to do well. Advertisers would sink money into mediums like radio and print, and hope sales of the advertised product went up. There was no dependably accurate way to determine how many people engaged with an ad or purchased a product because of it. In fact, the term ROI (return on investment) wasn’t even widely used until the mid-1960s.
A lot has changed since then. Advertisers now have access to a wealth of granular ad tracking data for every single campaign they run — so much data, in fact, that most marketers need to spend significant time sifting through dashboards to determine which points actually matter to their bottom line. Ad tracking has made it possible for marketers to more accurately measure, test, and revise ads based on how users interact with their online campaigns.
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What is ad tracking?
Ad tracking is the process of collecting data and user insights on the performance of online advertising campaigns. There are numerous methods advertisers can employ to collect this information, including tracking URLs, tracking pixels, and cookies. We’ll discuss these methods below
If you’re new to running online ads, it’s important to spend some time thinking about the specific metrics that will determine the success of your campaign. Ad tracking today exists across a number of different tools and platforms, and advertisers have the ability to collect data on everything from views and clicks, to impressions and behavior across multiple sessions and websites.
The sheer amount of data available can be overwhelming (not to mention distracting from your goals), so deciding on one or two key performance indicators (KPIs) will help focus your efforts and make reporting more straightforward and effective.
As William Stentz, Director of Marketing Analytics at Carmichael Lynch, reminds us, “Good key performance indicators are simple, timely, critical to the success of a project, and not financial in nature. But you also need to add in one thing if you want it to be a successful marketing metric — it must represent a key behavior you wanted to see. Look at your campaign and ask yourself: What’s the behavior I want to influence, not just something I can measure?”
We wrote an article here that can help you determine the right metrics to track based on the goals of your ad campaign.
Once you’ve determined the metrics you want to track for your ad, it’s time to find the best ad tracking method for your purposes. The exact ad tracking methods available to you will vary based on where you run your ads and which tools you’re using, but here are a few basic types to keep in mind. It’s important to note that the following ad tracking methods aren’t mutually exclusive — in fact, when used together they can provide even more powerful insights.