How to Tell If Your Online Ads Are Working

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Digital marketers like to boast that it’s easier to track the results of online advertising than other, more traditional advertising. Whether or not it’s true, if you don’t actually take the time to review results, it doesn’t matter.

This third part of a series about auditing your digital marketing looks at your online advertising — banner (display) ads, search ads, or social media ads on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, etc. Do you know which ads are working and which aren’t?

Here are some things to check:

  • As with social media posts, your ad content should be refreshed and updated periodically. Businesses often create an ad on Facebook, for example, and just let it run without ever changing it. As time goes on, the ads are less effective because folks get tired of looking at it.
  • Where do viewers end up when they click your ad? If you’re sending people to your website home page, you are missing opportunities. Ad campaigns should have specific landing pages that provide exactly the information people expect to find when they click.
  • Check the targeting. Are your ads appearing to the appropriate audience? Targeting options vary depending on the platform, but you should make sure your targeting is not aimed at too many people or too few.
  • Look at the numbers — clicks, cost per click, impressions, click-through rate, ad position, for example — and compare them, either with the numbers for previous months or with available industry benchmarks.
  • Look at whether the folks who click your ads are actually doing what you’d hope they would do, whether it’s download an app, make a purchase or subscribe to an email.

Online ads done well can zero in on your perfect audience, but you can’t set them and forget them. Take the time to review ad performance, reinforce the ads that work and ditch the ones that don’t.