Launch, Measure, Learn, Adapt: Measuring the success of your ad campaign

You’ve put the work into developing your creative brief, outlining your media buying plan, and completing your creative – now it’s time to put your plan into action.

Choosing who will see your ad is one of the most important campaign decisions you will make.
Before hitting the launch button, consider the available options for segmentation and targeting on the platform you are using. You will likely find a wide variety of demographics, firmographics, or behaviors that can be targeted. Many platforms also let you target your existing audience (based on email address or visit to your website). Being appropriately selective amongst these options can ensure that you spend your money efficiently and effectively.

You should also plan on testing key elements of your campaign. If you have created multiple variations of your creative, then run an A/B test (where setup is identical for the two variations, except for the creative itself). This can help you zero-in on the creative that your target audience responds to the best. If you only have a single creative variation, consider testing other elements of the campaign, such as you audience segment (divide your target audience into demographic segments) or client platform (divide your target audience into the platforms they use such as mobile and desktop).

Once you have set up your campaign and any tests, it’s time to launch! While this is a tremendous milestone, there is still work to be done.

Most digital ad platforms will provide basic reporting on the performance of your ad. While this basic reporting may suffice for some, you may want to consider creating your own tracking sheet (particularly if you are running your campaign across multiple platforms that have different reporting tools). Some basic engagement metrics you should pay attention to are: Impressions (the number of times your ad was shown), Clicks (the number of times your ad was clicked), Click Through Rate or CTR (a percentage that is the number of clicks your ad received divided by the number of impressions), Spend (how much you have spent on distributing your ad), and Cost per Click or CPC (an average that is the amount you spent divided by the number of clicks your ad received).

While it is important to track and measure these basic metrics, you will also want to measure the number of people who convert (people who click on your ad that ultimately take the action that was the impetus behind your campaign). For some, conversion may be filling out a lead form, for others it may be an e-commerce purchase. Regardless of the conversion goal, many digital ad platforms will allow you to track how many people convert off your ad (this is usually done through a tracking script or pixel on your site). Similarly, you will want to track your Conversion Rate (a percentage that is the number of conversions divided by the number of clicks on your ad) and your Cost per Acquisition or CPA (an average that is the amount you spent divided by the number of conversions you have generated from your ad). If you are running your campaign across multiple platforms, you may want to consider using an analytics tool, such as Google Analytics, to help you connect your ad engagement data to your conversion data across platforms.

If you have done a good job of setting up your engagement and conversion tracking, you should be able to start analyzing your data to identify opportunities for optimization. Pay close attention to the reporting capabilities of the platform you are using. Many will have the ability to break down campaign performance by age, gender, location, placement, platform, time of day, and many other useful analysis dimensions. Compare this data along with any A/B test data you have collected to identify segments that are performing above or below average CPCs and CPAs. By stopping under-performing segments and investing in the ones that perform above the average, you will be able to optimize your campaign and drive down your CPA.

Campaign measurement, analysis, and optimization is a continuous process that can dramatically improve response and drive down your cost to acquire a new customer. Having solid insights into your campaign performance data and adapting your strategy to what you learn from this data is critical to a successful marketing campaign.

Abraham Langer is the founder of Business Advisory Board LLC, a B2B marketing consultancy that helps companies grow using technology and data. Abraham has over 18 years of media and marketing experience and regularly speaks at industry events. He can be reached at