B2C Marketing Analytics for Beginners

Display Analytics

Display marketing is one of the most common types of digital marketing. This lesson will give an overview of the channel and the common metrics used to measure its performance.

Display Marketing Introduction

Display marketing is a very common and versatile type of digital advertising. It can take almost any form – text, banners, videos, carousels, etc… You can find these ads all over the internet – on web properties and on apps.

In many ways, display advertising is very similar to traditional print advertising. You can target based on the content of the site, just like you would in traditional advertising when selecting which magazine or newspaper to advertise on. But with digital display marketing, you can also target attributes about the users on the site, making your marketing much more focused.

In general, display advertising has very low click-through rates (CTR). Google provides a tool to benchmark display performance here. You can see there that CTR is less than a fraction of a percent. For this reason, display advertising is traditionally thought of us a top-of-funnel channel. Because display advertising is cheap and ubiquitous, you can get a lot of views of your ad and brand, but very little traffic (and even fewer conversions) directly off the ad itself. Keep this in mind when selecting your type of marketing and the key success metrics for your campaigns.

One notable exception to this trend is if you’re using display advertising for remarketing – where you target users who have already been to your site. Because in remarketing users have already had a significant interaction with your brand, remarketing usually targets lower in the marketing funnel and you should expect much higher CTRs than for prospecting campaigns.

There are many display networks you can contract to publish your ads. If you chose the Google Display Network (GDN), you can manage your ads through Adwords, very similar to how you manage and measure your Google paid search ads. In fact, when you set up your paid search campaigns, you can also choose to add display ads automatically. But remember that the context of search vs display is very different since you’re targeting people in very different parts of their customer journeys.

Display Marketing Metrics

Reach Metrics

Impressions and frequency are the primary metrics to measure the reach of your display campaigns. Because display is such a top-of-funnel channel, many platforms provide additional metrics that let you dig further into your impressions.

For example, on Adwords, you get impressions by default in your reports. But you can add additional viewability metrics. For example you can add information about how often your impressions were viewable (where at least half of the ad area was visible for one second) and measurable (had the ability to be measured as viewed). To add these metrics follow these steps:

  1. Navigate to the report of interest for your display campaign. In the example we navigate to the ad group report
  2. Click on the Modify Columns icon and select “Modify columns”
  3. Click on Viewability to expand the menu
  4. Select the metrics of interest. In the example we select viewable rate and measurable rate
  5. If you want to save this set of metrics for future use, click save and give it a name
  6. The added columns now appear in your report

Frequency metrics are only available at the campaign level report. Add them in the same way by through the Modify Columns function and find them under the Reach Metrics menu. You can read more about reach and frequency here.

Engagement Metrics

Depending on your type of ad (text, video, interactive, etc…), users can have different types of engagement with it. Engaging with an ad makes your brand and message more memorable so it augments the value of the impression.

Adwords defines engagements on display ads as “an engagement occurs when a consumer engages with an ad, for example, expanding a Lightbox ad or a card on a video ad, or viewing or clicking a Showcase Shopping ad”. You can add engagement rate similar to how we added viewability metrics. On the desired report, click to modify the columns and expand the Performance menu. There you can find engagement rate and other metrics relevant to your ad type, like view rate for video ads.

Impact Metrics

While most display ads aren’t optimal for lower funnel metrics like impact metrics, you likely still want to measure the performance the ads had on your business. And impact metrics may be your primary metrics if you have remarketing display campaigns. To measure traffic, conversions, revenue, etc… from the ad platform tool directly, you have to have additional tracking set up. If you’re using Adwords, this is the same conversion tracking as on your paid search campaigns.

You could also measure the impact metrics from your third party tool, like Google Analytics. To do this, make sure you follow the URL tracking conventions of your tool. If you’re measuring impact metrics in both, the ad platform and your analytics tool, you’re likely to see different results. More details on reasons for discrepancies will be covered in the social marketing lesson.

Ad Targeting Metrics

As with most advertising, you want to make sure that your reaching the right customers and you also want to see which types of customers are most responsive to your ads so you can adjust your targeting to optimize your campaigns.

Depending on your advertising platform, you had access to different types of targeting. As we covered in the Adwords overview, in Adwords you can target on keywords, demographics, audiences and topics, depending on your type of ad. You can also select the placement of these ads. To view the performance of each targeting type, when you’re in the desired campaign, ad group or ad, simply click on the targeting type on the left menu. You can add any of the metrics we’ve discussed to help you analyze the performance of your targeting groups.


Display marketing is one of the most common types of digital marketing. Different advertising platforms have different measurement interfaces, but all will have similar types of metrics to measure the performance of your ads.