Understanding performance metrics in the digital advertising world

Furthermore, we now have access to unseen levels of data allowing us to monitor user interactions to the finest degree.

Traditional methods of measuring performance are becoming less relevant as advertisers campaign goals focus towards brand-based metrics, many of which are extremely difficult to measure- how can you record the number of high street sales made from users who have viewed a digital ad?

So what metrics are brands using to gain an indication of campaign performance? The following is a breakdown of popular key performance indicators for contemporary ad types: Display, Native, Search and Video:


The majority of video campaigns are based around building brand awareness meaning performance can be very difficult to measure. There are a huge variety of video ad options with an increasing number of interactive formats entering the marketplace. This means there is a labyrinth of user data transferable to a range of performance metrics:

  • Impressions are measured in video campaigns as an indication of the total number of ads served. An impression is only fired if it complies with the IAB’s digital measurement guidelines.
  • Click-Through Rate captures an active user response. It is no longer counted as an important metric for most video campaigns although it is still regularly measured.
  • Completion Rates are used to determine the percentage of plays that have reached 100 per cent completion.
  • Percentage Complete measures the number of users that have partially played an ad up until intervals of 25 per cent, 50 per cent and 75 per cent.
  • Time Spent Viewing is the measure of seconds that an ad has been played; this includes any time added by rewinding the content.
  • Brand Health metrics include ad favorability, purchase intent and message recall.
  • Interactive Ad Formats come with a range of performance metrics based around their features. Examples of this include: Accept invitation rate and user activated control rate.
  • Player Operation Metrics cover user interactions with the player such as: skip, player expand, player collapse, audio mute, un-mute, rewind and pause.
  • Cost Per Mille stands for cost per 1000 ad impressions. CPM is a popular pricing model for video and can be used to measure performance against cost.
  • Viewable Cost Per Mille stands for viewable cost per 1000 ad impressions. VCPM has grown popular in recent years due to surfacing viewability problems.
  • Effective Cost Per Mille stands for effective cost per 1000 impressions. ECPM measures the cost per impression by dividing total campaign revenue by the total number of campaign impressions. 

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Source: Coull

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