Whether you’re an expert PPC advertiser or a casual weekend blogger, chances are you have probably come across a digital marketing metric or key performance indicator that was new to you. It can be difficult to keep up on the meanings of these metrics, as many of them are constantly changing as quickly as the marketing platforms they relate to. Knowing the way these metrics are calculated and their limitations will help you gain a better understanding of how your content is performing and avoid mistakes in calculations. In this article, we will break down seven metrics commonly used in digital advertising and why you may experience variances in the same metric across different platforms.
Impression – The number of times your content is displayed. In the marketing industry, impressions are commonly measured by CPM (cost per 1,000 impressions).
Example: a person sees your post once in the morning and once at night = 2 impressions.
Just because an impression is counted doesn’t automatically guarantee your media was viewed by the end user. Some platforms will count an impression when as little as one pixel of your media was displayed on screen. If possible, focus on viewable impressions, which require a certain percentage of your media to be displayed on screen for a set amount of time.
Reach – The number of unique people who see your content.
Example: a person sees your post once in the morning and once at night = 1 user reached. Person A views your post 2 times and person B views your post 1 time = 2 users reached.
Reach can be a tricky concept to understand at first. In a reporting scenario, it can be tempting to take the total reach from different time periods individually, say month 1 (1,000 reached) and month 2 (1,000 reached), and add them to get 2,000 total users reached, but this is incorrect. Why? Because of repeat visitors. It’s almost guaranteed that there were users who viewed your content in both month A and month B, which would mean your number would be inflated due to counting the same user more than once. Because it is a unique metric, reach from different time periods cannot be added, it must be reported directly from the native platform.
Video View – How many times a video has been watched.
Not a hard concept to grasp, true, but the reason we chose to cover video views in this article is due to how differently they are defined from platform to platform and even on the same platform from organic to paid. So, what counts as a video view? Here is a breakdown for each of the popular networks today:
- Youtube: any view from someone the algorithm considers a “valid user” that is >30 seconds or the full duration of videos shorter than 30 sec. YouTube does not disclose the workings of their algorithm, so there is much that remains a mystery about the way they count and validate views.
- Facebook: >3 sec
- Facebook TruView ads: 15 seconds or 97% completion, whichever comes first
- Instagram post: >3 seconds
- Instagram stories: any view at all; essentially the same as an impression
- Snapchat: >2 sec
- Twitter: at least 50% of the video visible on screen for at least 2 sec
Engagement Rate – The rate at which an audience engages with your content.
Engagement rate seems simple enough at first until you realize how many ways it can be calculated. There is no shortage of methods to count engagement rate including engagement by day, engagement by impressions and engagement by post. Things can get even more complicated when only certain engagements are counted or weighted differently. Before getting overwhelmed, forget everything else and remember this equation:
(Engaged users / total users reached) * 100
We have found this method of calculating engagement to be the most widely used by major networks like Facebook and reporting programs such as Google Data Studio. In this case, an Engaged User is someone who has engaged in any way, no matter what the engagement action was or how many times it was performed.
Session – A group of user interactions with your website that take place within a given time frame.
One user can have multiple sessions. It can seem like sessions are synonymous with site visits, but it’s important to be aware of the limitations in the way sessions are counted by Google Analytics. A session will be ended:
- At midnight. Example: you start browsing a website at 11:45pm and end at 12:10am = 2 sessions.
- After 30 min of inactivity. Example: You begin browsing a website, leave to get food without closing the page, then come back to continue browsing 35 min later = 2 sessions.
- If you return to a site through a different campaign. Example: you visit a website by following a link from another site, accidentally close the page, then immediately find the website again through a Google search. Since the first visit was a referral and the second was organic, this = 2 sessions.
Conversion – When a visitor to your website completes a desired goal.
Conversions could be any action of value that a user could take. Depending on your business model, this could be purchases, form completions, downloads, phone calls, video plays, etc. Setting up the proper conversion tracking is crucial to measuring the success of your advertising.
Bounce – A single-page session on a website.
As marketers, we are constantly using websites as a tool to introduce new customers to our brand, educate them and persuade them to take action. This cycle is rarely something that happens in a single page visit, which is why we are always striving to boost user engagement. It’s important to keep a close eye on the bounce rate of your web pages. High bounce rates can indicate a number of potential issues including
- ineffective campaign landing pages
- irrelevant content
- poor continuity between site pages
- no call to action
- slow load times
- page difficult to navigate
- too many ads or pop-ups