Media, Online

A new metric for non-revenue based web sites that may blow your mind

I work with a few clients where bookings aren’t how we measure success. The goal is to drive as many qualified people to the site. So it’s not just bring loads of people, they have to show an interest in the site by digging around and viewing many pages deeper within the site.

Through our third-party ad server, we’ll tag all major secondary pages of a site that we deem important to seeing if a person shows an interest. We then try to find these qualified people on the world wide web and drive them to the site through advertising.

Assumption #1: Site visitation is a good start, but seeing the degree with which people visit multiple pages on the site and how long they stay is a better indicator of intent.

As many of us know, Eyeblaster published a report back in 2008 that “whithered” the importance of the click (seeing a banner ad and “clicking” through). They said that only maybe 20% of the Internet universe clicked and the rest didn’t. And those that clicked were usually younger and less affluent than who we were targeting anyway. This finding made us re-think the importance of giving people the tools to find our site later if they only saw an ad. And since we have the ability to track those people who saw our banner, didn’t click, and visited the site later (we call that a post-impression), so being able to take credit for their visit is fairly easy.

Assumption #2: There should be a higher weight of importance put on the number of people who seek out your site because they probably have a higher interest than a person who might have clicked on your ad because it was shiny.

Based on these two assumptions and the need for some metric to quantify success, I created a formula that allows us to compare how well different ads bring qualified people to the site:

Activity Rate = All conversions/Clicks*100%

Wooooaaaaahhhhh. Right? Did I blow your mind yet?

Let’s start to elaborate. I was asked to try to boil the explanation for what this formula is and does into two sentences. I was able to boil it to five sentences on my first attempt.

5 sentences:
The formula for Activity Rate is all conversions divided by clicks multiplied by 100%. “All conversions” is a combination of all clicks that landed and stayed on your site, plus visits from people who saw the ad but didn’t click, and all of the subsequent pages visited by either party. The “click” becomes the basic metric that discounts some post-impression activity to compensate for the non-discount from the natural bounce (the people who click and don’t stay long) and aids in the comparison between ads or campaigns in order to measure how engaged an audience finds the creative message and overall site. The difference between the sum of all conversions and all clicks can be considered extra value that is weighted heavier towards the people who actively sought out your site and went deeper into your site. Therefore, the higher the percentage value, the more engaged the people who visited your site were.

A very smart colleague of mine, a digital planner, helped me boil it down further in order to explain it to people who need to know what to look for, but don’t necessarily care they understand how that percentage came to be.

3 sentences:
Activity Rate is all traffic and subsequent page views within the site driven by online advertising as a percentage of clicks. The number of subsequent page views indicates the engagement of the audience beyond the initial click to the site. An activity rate greater than 100% shows an engaged audience.

We then tried to share this with another media planner who is a super-genius in buying radio and TV, but still green with online. The descriptions above were still a little fuzzy for her, so I came up with an example using the mall parking lot, its stores, the different entrances, and car manufacturers. It kind of worked and I would share, but I’ve run over my personal word count limit so it will have to wait for another post.

Feedback would be greatly appreciated!

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3 thoughts on “A new metric for non-revenue based web sites that may blow your mind”

  1. Hi Patti. I like where you are going with this. Can you give us a real world example with numbers? I am a strong believer that digital advertising has so much more to offer than just clicks. Kudos to you for making the effort to track post-impression activity and engagement and give credit where credit is due!

    1. I’d be happy to provide some real-world examples for you! Let me tweak the site names and clean up my internal reports and I’ll explain them in this week’s post.

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