Beyond the last click

February 15, 2022

Getting a fuller picture of your advertising performance

Advertising conversions rarely run in a straight line. Much as businesses would like them to, most consumers don’t simply click through and immediately buy the product. More often, it’s a circuitous route through multiple pieces of content – from banners ads and eDMs, to social media posts and search results – before the person finally makes the decision to buy.

If you focus on the ‘last click’ – that final moment that leads to a conversion – when you’re measuring your ad performance and totting up ROAS, you’re likely to miss a big part of the picture. You’ll be giving credit to one channel while ignoring other touchpoints that contributed to the conversion. In future, this could mean investing in the wrong mix of ad channels and missing out on that added value.

Marketing and advertising have always been part-art, part-science, mixing creativity with research and stats to help target the right message to the right people. Now, with a huge range of media channels and vast amounts of data flowing in, it’s even more complex. In this fragmented, complex ad environment, you need all the information you can get and process this in real time. That’s why it’s essential to attribute ROAS along the whole conversion journey.

Mapping digital journeys

Think about how your customers reach you. Their journey might start with a simple display ad, which they click to view your product – but don’t purchase at this stage. Next, they might get a remarketing ad showing the same product, or a video explaining its features. If they click through and sign up to your database at some point, they could receive an eDM with more information. Finally, after seeing a post pop up on Instagram, they might Google search your business, find your website, and buy.

That final search (ad) may result in a sale, but it’s far from the only stage of the journey. All those other touchpoints nudged the customer slightly further along the path to conversion, and without them, the sale wouldn’t have happened at all.

That’s why it’s crucial to analyse each point on the journey and evaluate its impact on the final result. This is attribution at its most basic, and it’s a crucial part of understanding your digital performance and where to invest your precious advertising budget.

How do your marketing channels interact?

If you’re using a wide range of channels and marketing strategies, it can be difficult to correctly weight each touchpoint. It’s not quite as simple as A + B + C = sale. Different types of content work together in different ways, and influence each other. For example, our research has found that pairing search with display ads lifts search by 15%.

Some channels may do little or nothing in the way of immediate results, but provide a ‘halo effect’ that boosts the brand over time. For example, video content has an average 160% higher impact in the weeks being seen, when compared with non-video advertising. This, in turn, can lead people to pick your brand over another when they need your product and provide a smaller bump to sales numbers. This type of brand-strengthening content is no less important than the social media ad that receives a raft of click-throughs.

Escape the walled gardens

You’ve probably heard about the ‘walled gardens’ of digital giants like Google and Facebook. These are digital ecosystems owned – and controlled – by a single provider. Think of Google – they have their ubiquitous search engine and browser, the largest video content sharing and email platform, mobile operating systems and more. This gives them access to a huge amount of first-party user data, and gives them the ability to control advertising within their own online spaces.

For advertisers, this offers benefits and risks. Having a one stop shop for digital advertising certainly simplifies things, giving you a number of different channels through one provider. On the other hand, these environments tend to restrict options based on business size and marketing.

Google benefits on both sides of the media buying equation, pulling in fees on the buy side as well as the sell side – through Google Ad Manager. Like everything they do, they have kept this tightly controlled, only recently sharing the platform fees charged through Adwords and AdManager. However, the shift to first price auctions has levelled the playing field, meaning brands can now bid on other SSPs and get similar results.

If you’re trying to go beyond the last click and get more insight into your digital advertising performance, you’ll also need to not only look at buying media outside the ‘walled gardens’ but also having systems in place that measures every touchpoint of the users journey.

By working with technology vendors and agencies that offer better transparency, ownership of your own data, innovative ways to target outside the walled gardens and customer journey mapping analysis, brands can maximise the impact of every ad dollar which can make all the difference.

Need help getting away from the last click? Talk to the team at Acquire now.