The Display Marketer’s Guide to View-Through Conversions
In this guide, we’ll look at examples of view-through conversions, examine the metric’s key advantages and disadvantages, and outline ways for marketers to see results. We’ll also detail how to track view-through conversions through the BuySellAds platform.Keep Reading
Clicks have been a North Star to marketers since the start of display ads. They’re used to measure campaign results, audience engagement, and, ultimately, click-through conversions.
It’s no surprise that falling click-through rates are leaving many marketers in a tailspin over the future of display advertising. In 2016, the average click-through rate on display ads in the U.S. was only 0.12%. That means people clicked on an ad 12 times for every 10,000 views… and even fewer converted after that.
Many marketers blame these results on banner blindness and ad blockers, but perhaps it’s time for marketers to look beyond clicks when measuring success.
Clicks and click-through conversions only provide marketers with a glimpse into audience `reaction to display campaigns. If a display ad is served 10,000 times and 12 people click, are the other 9,988 impressions a waste?
That’s where view-through conversions come in. This metric provides marketers with additional insight into how targeted audiences react after seeing a display ad—even if they didn’t click on it. When used effectively, view-through conversions help marketers discover true return on investment in display campaigns and deliver more value to clients.
In this guide, we’ll look at examples of view-through conversions, examine the metric’s key advantages and disadvantages, and outline ways for marketers to see results. We’ll also detail how to track view-through conversions through the BuySellAds platform.
Who is BuySellAds?
BuySellAds works with publishers and advertisers to reach targeted audiences through display and native advertising. We connect the best independent publishers with advertisers who want to reach loyal, curious, and passionate audiences at scale. Through our marketplace and sales team, advertisers can book placements, launch campaigns, and optimize for conversions to reach their goals.
We know a thing or two about display ads and their changing role in the digital advertising landscape. We’ve been doing what’s now called “programmatic direct” or “automated guaranteed” since 2008. But unlike the newer players, we sell more than 6 billion impressions each month.
What are view-through conversions?
Simply put, a view-through conversion is when someone sees a display ad but doesn’t click on it, then converts some time later.
Marketers are likely more familiar with click-through conversions, which are counted when someone sees a display ad, clicks on it, and converts. Some ad networks allow marketers to separately count view-through conversions and click-through conversions. For example, the Facebook pixel makes it possible to track conversions from anyone who was served an ad regardless of whether they clicked or not.
On most ad networks, total conversions are calculated by adding view-through and click-through conversions.
The period between when someone is served an ad and when they convert is called the lookback or conversion window. During this time, the ad server will take credit for any conversions made by people who were served ads. Many networks default this window to 30 days but allow marketers to customize it to reflect their needs.
Theoretically, view-through conversions provide marketers with a more holistic view of the customer path to purchase. While click-through conversions reflect a campaign’s ability to engage audiences when serving an ad, view-through conversions show success in the days or weeks after an ad is served.
Because view-through conversions reflect ad recall and not immediate action, marketers can lean on this metric to deflect quips about the death of display triggered by banner blindness and low click-through-rates. It can help demonstrate how display campaigns raise brand awareness which later converts to sales—like a more exact way of measuring whether highway billboards prompt drivers to stop at a store or attraction.
In our experience, most marketers see a rise in organic conversions while running ad campaigns. This could be due to unattributed view-through conversions or overall brand lift, both of which are discussed in detail in this guide.
Click-through conversions vs. View-through conversions
A company serves display advertisements for its day planners on lifehack.org, a website showcasing productivity tips. The marketing team sets checkouts on the company website as its conversion goal. Visitors could convert through two methods:
- See the display ad on lifehacker.org → Click on the ad → Complete the purchase on the company website immediately or at a later date
- See the display ad on lifehacker.org → Don’t click on the ad → Go to the company website direct or through search → Complete the purchase on the website
The first scenario is a click-through conversion because the user clicked on the display ad and later converted. The third scenario is a view-through conversion because the user did not click on the ad but still converted.