Crossing the Channel Part 4: KPI Monitoring Across Digital Ad Platforms

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Combining the data from various ad management and analytics platforms is a necessity to prove the efficacy of your respective marketing programs in today’s results-driven marketing ecosystem. You spend your days (and occasionally nights) thinking about how you can engage with consumers to get your message across so more people will buy more of your products. And you use a whole set of key performance indicators (KPIs) used to measure the effectiveness of each step of your communication funnel.

Although there is a lot to be said about mapping different KPIs for actions happening offline as well as on, in this piece we will talk about how to design a framework for measuring KPIs on your website, specifically if you are using a number of ad management platforms to measure results.

Step 1: Choose a Platform of Record

A typical situation for a single KPI (represented by one or more pages/sections of pages on a website) can look like this:

Because you have implemented tracking tags from each ad management platform separately, you will end up counting one conversion in each platform. Although we could easily get into a lengthy debate about attribution in this article, what we’re talking about here is making choices: You need to consolidate as many of these tags as possible into one system of record in order to have duplicated conversions. Once you have duplicated conversions, then you can have a debate over which channel should get what portion of the credit for that conversion.

Another important point to make here is that we are looking at the technical implementation of tracking tags, not the analysis you can perform as a result of their implementations within the platforms that executed your tracking. In order to bring the data together and make sense of it, you will need to extract it from the platforms that execute your buys or measure your web analytics platforms and integrate it into a 3rd system (Excel being the simplest example of such a system) in order to analyze the data.

There is no perfect solution, but seeking perfection in measurement will send you on an endless quest that will have an impact on the right side of the decimal. For now, let’s focus on what can have an impact on the left side of the decimal.

 Broadly speaking, here are your choices:

Web analytics at the center

Depending on which web analytics system you use, you can integrate most of your ad management platforms, at least when it comes to tracking post-click activities. Tracking post-view website activities is a more expensive proposition and limits you to specific combinations of platforms.

Pros:
• Relatively easy if you’re OK with being limited to post-click activities
• Leverages a system you already have
• Allows you to look at detailed web related metrics
• Access to direct and organic traffic sources

Cons:
• Hard and expensive to access post-view activities

 

Ad server at the center

If you use ad server conversion tracking tags across all the pages where you track KPIs, you can choose to use your ad server as the center of your measurement platform.

Pros:
• Easy access to delivery metrics
• Configurable conversion metrics
• Most ad servers have integration frameworks with DSPs and search bidding platforms.
Cons:
• No access to direct traffic and organic traffic sources (except for a few select ad servers, but even then this usually comes at an additional fee)

 

Tag management systems

The rise of tags and ad management platforms using tags has prompted the rise of tag management systems. These vendors focus on making integration between platforms easy and offer a framework to optimize tracking and page load times (as well as other features depending on the specific vendor).

Pros:
• Specifically designed to integrate with the ecosystem

Cons:
• Implementations can be complex

Now that you’ve chosen a method to focus on, you’re ready to move on…

Step 2 – Creating a Framework for Measurement. Next week’s Crossing the Channel will delve into each method and suggest ways to structure your framework around them.

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