While advertising statistics are a great tool, it's important to understand the limitations they have in measuring the impact your ad is having on the people who see it. Ad stats can tell you how many people clicked on your ad, but they can't tell you how many people didn't click but remember your ad. You may even have tracking software on your server that tells you how many of those people made a purchase, but stats can't tell you how many people bookmarked your site and purchased weeks later.
What is Branding? Branding is the use of advertising to increased product or company name awareness. It encompasses brand awareness, ad recall, message association, brand favorability, and purchase intent. Many large companies' marketing campaigns include corporate branding strategies. For example, without mentioning the company's names, you probably know whose shoes enable you to "Just Do It," or whose trucks are "Built _____ Tough". When you see these ads over and over again, you start to remember them. Neither of these companies can directly track purchases from their ads, but they know they work because people recall seeing them. Brand marketing solutions are particularly important for larger ticket industries like travel, financial/investment, and building/construction and are crucial for organizations that ask for long-term commitments such as sponsoring of a charity, online dating services, and mission trips.
The Unmeasured Value of an Internet Branding Campaign. Consider this scenario: A person sees a travel ad, is not planning any travel, so doesn't click, but remembers the ad. Two weeks later, he or she is asked to help plan a mission trip, remembers the ad, and goes directly to the site. The ad produced a sale but not a click. In traditional media, 100% of the value of advertising is in branding since all purchases are made later. Studies show that 70%-80% of the effectiveness of an online ad is in branding. On average, online advertising boosts brand awareness (+5.4%), ad recall (+45.3%), message association (+21.6%), brand favorability (+5.6%), and purchase intent (+4.9%). These are numbers that prove the powerful impact of web and email advertising.
So, how do you run an internet branding campaign that will produce positive branding results? The most effective brand marketing solutions use both large and repetitive advertisements. In fact, a study of online advertising showed that both brand awareness and message association dramatically increased when an ad is displayed ten times or more.
Another important characteristic of an effective internet branding campaign is that it must state the company name and product. While an ad campaign designed for impulse sales may try to pique a person's curiosity, e.g., "Click here and change your life!", corporate branding strategies are intended to ingrain the company or product name into the person's consciousness, e.g., "ChristianTravel.com - lowest price on all missions travel."
Unmeasured Sales. Just as click statistics can't measure the tremendous value of internet branding, sales tracking statistics also miss many sales that may come from an ad campaign. If one uses sales tracking stats to judge the effectiveness of an ad that promotes a product, service, or ministry for which the consumer takes time to consider before purchasing, signing up, or donating, it can lead to the underestimation of the effectiveness of the ad campaign. Let's say for example that you own a company that runs an ad to promote church management software. If a pastor, elder, or other member of a church sees the ad, clicks through, and likes what they see, are they going to immediately purchase the product when on your website? Most likely not. They will probably bookmark the website, save it to their favorites, or write down the web address. Then they will discuss the purchase with "the board" or decision-making group at the church. If a purchase is approved, they will return to the site via the bookmarked or written URL to make the purchase or call a phone number on the website if it is provided. Although that purchase was not tracked by clicks from the ad, it would not have been made unless the ad was displayed. Therefore, if you use the click tracking method, that purchase will not be factored in when judging the effectiveness of the ad. The same can happen if one clears their cookies or uses another computer when making the purchase.
Conclusion. The bottom line is that while online ad stats provide some important metrics, they can't measure the entire impact of your ad campaign. Running a powerful and productive campaign can be accomplished if you understand all of the benefits an ad can produce. Don't sell yourself or your ad short just because the stats provide a less-than-anticipated click-through or conversion rate. Remember that for most online ads, click-throughs comprise less than 30% of the value of the ad. The benefits of brand marketing, although largely undetectable via online stats, can produce much greater long-term results than you may realize.