The Most Important Digital Ad KPI

by | Jun 10, 2021 9:30:00 AM | Strategy, Technology, Martech

Today’s the day! Can you feel the excitement, the suspense??? You’ve waited for weeks (at least two), and you’re ready to get the results of your investment. That’s right, it’s time to log into your preferred advertising platform and check how your digital ads are doing! Woohoo!

Exciting, right???...



Digital KPI Overload

Ok, well, some of us digital marketers enjoy the experience. If you don’t feel immediate exhilaration when you check in on your Google, Facebook, Linkedin, or Instagram ads, it may be because you’re seeing digital ad metrics that look like this:

confusing ads report

And you have no idea where to even start. 

What does this even mean? Just look at it; Conversion Value/Cost, really? How is that a marketing KPI? What possible relevance could that have to your business?

Whatever your digital ad platform, you’re going to get SO MUCH DATA – like the KPI examples listed above. There is an overwhelming number of performance indicators when it comes to digital ad effectiveness – impressions, traffic, clicks, CTR, CPC, CR, BR, CPM, CPE, eng. rate, view rate, etc. – that it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Let’s take a look at some of the KPIs you’re likely to come across, and which one is truly the most important digital KPI.

What is this... I don't even...

The Most Common Key Performance Indicators

Across all different types of digital advertising platforms, there are a handful of commonly-used Key Performance Indicators that digital marketers tend to gravitate towards:

  • Impressions
    • The most basic digital ad KPI. If you hear someone bragging about impressions, odds are good they have the title “Social Media Influencer” somewhere in their LinkedIn bio. 
  • Clicks
    • The grand-daddy of digital ad KPIs, not to be confused with the Adam Sandler film of the same name. 
  • CTR
    • Click-through-rate, or the number of clicks divided by the number of impressions. More context, better flavor. 
  • Engagement Rate
    • Popular in Facebook-land, this measures interactions and indicates how engaging your content is in the form of likes, shares, comments, etc.
  • CPC
    • Cost per click, or the campaign spend divided by the number of clicks. Fun for everyone who likes seeing dollar signs!
  • Leads
    • These are the wise individuals that gave you their contact information in exchange for the opportunity to give you money in exchange for goods and services.

But Which Digital KPI Should I Use?

While these are the most common, they aren’t necessarily the best KPIs to use. The question then becomes “How do I know what digital KPIs are important?” Determining the digital ad KPIs that are most relevant to your business comes down to one simple thing: your ability to track leads.

Figuring out digital ad ROI depends on your level of marketing tech sophistication. If you have disconnected systems that don’t integrate downstream, you’ll be stuck with the KPIs listed above. 

For instance, if your Facebook Ads Manager account isn’t connected with your CRM, you’ve got no choice but to measure success by Clicks and Engagement because that’s what Facebook provides. That’s all it’s able to provide! 

What’s even more important to your business is what happens after a user interacts with your ad – Do they become a lead? Do they turn into a customer? Do they produce revenue?

At the end of the day, Return on Investment is the ultimate metric of digital ad success.

Digital Ads Success

The screenshot above shows how, with modern marketing integration, an advertiser can track ROI all the way from impression to sale. An integrated system will show you not only surface-level metrics (like impressions and clicks), but will track what happens with specific contacts after the ad - leads, conversions, transactions, sales, etc.

Being able to connect and correctly attribute sales revenue with paid ads gives advertisers the best information to make the most informed budget decisions. Powerful? You bet. Actionable? Absolutely. Exciting? Without a doubt!


The Bottom Line? The Best KPI is ROI.

Nobody has time to wade through a million performance indicators. Sure, these KPIs can give you an idea of the level of success from a particular ad campaign, but what does a 2.3% CTR and $14.66 CPC mean in terms of revenue? 

Your digital advertising should effectively and efficiently promote your business. Ultimately, the success of a digital campaign is measured by one thing and one thing alone: Return on Investment. Everything else is just data.


Ready to Learn More?

If you don’t have visibility of your customers from impression to final sale, then you’re not taking advantage of modern MarTech – and it’s time to look into upgrading. That’s where 1 Bold Step comes in. Contact us today to start exploring your marketing technology options and discover new ways to measure the success of your digital ad campaigns!


About 1 Bold Step

At 1 Bold Step we believe that everything can be more efficient, but especially marketing. Acting as an extension of a client’s marketing department (onsite or virtually), we help create systems, order, and accountability. With a focus on increasing sales and proving return on marketing investment, we’re determined to change marketing from overhead to value add. 


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