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How do you measure influence?

Digital display ads are effective, flexible, and a great way to target specific audiences. They allow you to engage with audiences wherever they are: reading the news, watching YouTube, browsing Facebook, or their favorite blog. If you have a multichannel digital campaign, you might use display ads to supplement your other channels. Or you might use display ads to garner impressions and increase brand awareness.

Display ads make an impact. We know that; it’s why we run them. But are you measuring their influence correctly?

It Takes Two

Lookback Window: The number of days you’ve assigned to identify conversions and influence.

View-through Conversion: Conversions during the lookback window that get credited to your display ad campaign.

The view-through conversion helps measure the real strength of display ads: the indirect impact and influence of your creative.

Influence of Display Advertising

Only 8% of people click on display ads, but we know that those ads influence later conversion behavior. Consider this common situation: You’re reading an article and see an ad for a pair of shoes you looked at yesterday. Realizing that you want to look again, you open a new window and head straight to, quickly navigating through the site and making that purchase (because you deserve it, obviously).

Did you click on the display ad? No.

Should it be credited with influence for your behavior. Yes. Most certainly.

The same rules of attribution apply to nonprofit fundraising and marketing.

Tell the Media Story

When you apply lookback windows and view-through conversions to your attribution reporting, reinforcing the benefits of display advertising will be a walk in the park. The extra effort on your end will pay off. We’ve seen conversion results increase by more than 150% with a 7-day lookback window.

Consider this client’s click-through conversions and how the results of the media campaign changes when you apply different lookback windows.


Lookback Window View Through Conversions ChartA 7-10-day lookback window (recommended) to the click-through conversions increases attribution results by 124% - 172%, almost tripling the number of conversions attributed to the campaign. Without the lookback window, these conversions could be attributed to direct website visits, when we know that exposure to the display ads influenced the conversion.

Add a view-through conversion to your media reporting, and you will see the same boost in your attribution numbers for display.

For example, the chart to your left is a media client running Facebook display advertising. Introducing a short one-day lookback window increases conversions by almost 100%.

Facebook View-through Conversions ChartThese are donors that were exposed to the Facebook display ads, visited the website that same day, and made a donation.

How can you not attribute that conversion to the Facebook display ad campaign?

Increase the lookback window to our recommended 7-day window and Facebook view-through conversions increase by 229%.


If You’re Not Sold Yet

View-through conversions are invaluable to optimization, refinement, and analysis of digital marketing conversions.

But wait. We have two more reasons why we always report on view-through conversions.


  1. Conversion Data – In the world of direct response, we hope for an immediate conversion. With these delayed conversions, we can review where/when/why these ads took time to convert, analyzing what display ad sites are working, as well as more defined demographic data.


  1. Second Donations – In some cases, view-through conversions originate from existing donors considering a second donation. These audiences are more likely to convert again, and we prefer to target what works for recurring donations.

The Sweet Spot

Time frames for lookback windows are often debated. Ask a room full of digital media marketers about lookback window best practice and you will hear everything from 1 day to 90 days.

None of them are wrong.

Applying these reporting metrics is about finding the best fit for your organization, strategy, budget, and goals.

We recommend starting somewhere in the best practice window: 3-7 days for a view-through conversion and 7-10 days for a click-through conversion lookback window. Then continue with direct response 101. Test, report, and adopt what works best for you.

Shane Thornal

Shane Thornal is an experienced leader within the digital landscape and serves as Senior Director, Digital Media, at RKD Group. Shane understands programmatic media buying and knows what questions to ask to drive campaigns forward. He is a strategic thinker, focused and extremely hard working. Shane understands how to build high-performing teams, has great industry knowledge and knows the triggers to pull to get the best out of everyone. He is driven and dedicated to his clients’ goals and objectives, and will not rest until they are achieved.

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