When I worked in web marketing in the late nineties, everyone was focused on “eyeballs” (basically counting impressions) and clicks. Ad inventory was sold on a CPM model. Not much has changed. Eyeballs are still commonly cited as the measurable end result of a campaign.
But at the end of the day, impressions don’t buy. Real people do.
Many of the digital ad metrics marketers use are a poor proxy for what people actually buy. Even setting aside all of the problems with ad fraud and viewability, impressions provide a limited picture. Marketers have been left to cobble together a pretty sloppy story connecting digital ad impressions to business results.
As data-driven marketing continues to mature, there’s an interesting evolution in which metrics are measured. And a shift from eyeballs to business outcomes. Companies like Datalogix are starting to measure the impact of online campaigns on real-world sales data. Facebook has started to offer conversion lift measurement.
But it’s still early days. I’d love to hear your thoughts on what ad metrics matter and how to measure them.