Web advertising: Making sense of metrics

Businesses need the web. Going digital through web display ads, social media presence, streaming, blogging, websites can be confusing. When you are focused on running your business you are tasked with keeping the doors open, you worry about your advertising investment and how to track it. The web offers metrics and analytics which give the impression of traceability; end of your problems!  Not so. This is a basic lesson on web terms and how to determine if all the hype makes sense for your business. The short answer is “yes”, but with the normal amount of caution to be exercised when utilizing any media.

Page Views – This is the term most commonly used when reviewing data from an advertiser about the activity on a site. Sometimes, these numbers can be impressive however, quantity is relative. As with anything, quality of a user and how that user is interacting with a site is the better indication of how much of your advertising investment should be dedicated to digital (web). When a user comes to a website and lands on a web page that is a “view”. That’s it. The page “view” is simply the entrance point to a website. People could have come to the site by accident (that view counts in your metric and analytics), people could have gotten to the page via an auto pop up, an auto play video roll or even click fraud.

Bounce rate – this is a very telling metric in relation to page views. Bounce rate and page views are connected in that bounce rate measures the first page or landing page for a visitor. This means that visitors can visit a site that directs them to specific content, and not always the main page of a site. If someone is looking for recipes, the might “bounce” to the recipe section of the website and completely miss the main page of a site. If it’s not the recipe they are looking for, they exit the page without ever exploring other content. This is not a good impression. Visitors can bounce on and exit within seconds.

Exit rate – the page that a visitor leaves on. If your visitors are bouncing onto a page, then leaving immediately and not exploring a website further, it can be interpreted in two ways. One; visitors are not interested in the content, or bounced onto a page for a specific tidbit of info (temperature, sports score, etc.) and then left. Exit rate indicates how deeply the visitor explored the site. Tied to exit rate, is session length.

Session length – This is the time that one spends in a site. Time in session is a calculation involving bounce rate, exit rate and the length of inactivity from the last interaction from the user. Session length is a good indicator of the quality of content, but should be viewed against the other metrics to provide a comprehensive look at how a website is performing.

When considering web advertising, take these factors into consideration. The common misconceptions is that web results are “traceable” and therefore more valid than other forms of advertising impressions however, the converse is true. Just because a site reports a lot of page views doesn’t mean that buying advertising on the site will result in more exposure for your ad. Among the myriad reasons that a site reports a high number of page views, be sure to understand how bounce rates, exit rates and session lengths determine at which point a user finds a site, if they are exploring and how long they are staying. In the end, web advertising is like any other form of media engagement: quantity counts, but make sure it’s quality quantity.

References and further reading:

Bounce rate is intended to help you understand if content is engaging, but you need to be a statistics analyst to really understand it all. Here are a couple of articles that are helpful when looking at how to read metrics:

Exit Rate vs. Bounce Rate What is a Bounce Rate? Avoid Common Pitfalls

References:

https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/2525491?hl=en

http://www.blastam.com/blog/index.php/2012/02/what-is-bounce-rate

http://www.google.com/ads/adtrafficquality/invalid-click-protection.html

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