Alternative PPC Success Metrics You Should Be Using

alternative ppc success metrics to use

The amount of cool stuff you can do with advertising in the digital space is mind blowing, but as PPC specialists I find that we get pigeonholed out of “advertising” and pushed into the dark corner of direct marketing. All too often, the C-suite sees PPC as an ROI machine only; Put dollars in, get more dollars out. That’s awesome, and surely something PPC is good for, but we’re much more.

If we’re stuck with one definition of success, we’re selling ourselves short of what PPC can really do for a brand. I’ve outlined a few alternative success metrics besides form submits and whitepaper downloads, these metrics were inspired by a few recent client conversations and Gary Vaynerchuck calculating the “ROI of your mother”:

Revenue Per Impression (RPI)

We have a long running client who is obsessed with valuing impressions. It puzzled me for years, but after getting insight into the exec team the proverbial light bulb illuminated over my head. Historically this client spent their entire marketing budget on Yellow Pages (the old school, doorstop version), Billboards and other offline media.

This long running team had been conditioned over the years to think in x-per-impression. Over time, the client slowly shifted to a near 75% digital budget, but they still needed to make the case to their board. Enter revenue per impression.

The client has three major product types, each with different values; call them $5 cats, $10 dogs and $50 lions. We know that it’s going to take longer for someone to buy a lion than a cat (read: CPL may be higher) but using RPI as an indicator metric helps find the most effective way to allocate budget. We can then go to the board and say “hey, we earn 31 cents per ad impression on cats, 23 cents per impression on dogs and 19 cents per lion impression.” We guide spend towards the less sexy product (from a sales perspective) because we spoke a language that the executives understood.

Marketing Dollar Efficiency

Imagine this; an in-every-mall retailer wants to move their entire newspaper budget online; they have no way to tie store sales to offline. What are you gonna do, say “nope, can’t measure success?” Not if you want the project!

Let’s unpack how a traditional advertiser could measure return. You know the cost of newspaper ads. You know how much revenue the store made. Simple, right? Why try to reinvent the digital wheel? You know how much PPC ads spent when you moved everything online. Which was more efficient?

You get the picture; revenue divided by marketing spend equals efficiency. It’s not perfect by any means, but it can tell a story. Taking it a step further in this (true) scenario, you could conceivably split test thanks to the power of geo-targeting. In half of the locations, continue to buy newspaper ads as usual. In the other half, 100% digital. Who wins? My money’s on digital.


No, I don’t mean likes, video views or tweets, I mean how many people actually did something with your site, page, graphic or content asset. It doesn’t get the true “how much did I make from this” answer that so many C-level folks want, but to Mr. Vaynerchuk’s point, some things you just cannot measure.

Engagement is a great way to measure success for something like video ads, sponsored stories or sponsored updates on LinkedIn, something that typically wouldn’t lead to an immediate conversion. For industries with a long lead cycle it can be a gold mine. If a prospect engages with an ad, the sales team has an outbound opportunity (and target). In my mind, that’s just as good as a lead form.

There’s a myriad of other alternative metrics available; page views per session, view through actions (yes, they’re useful), return visits, video views et al. I ask you fine Acquisio readers, what other success metrics have you used in the past? And no, “traffic” and “click-through rate” alone are not success metrics.

It may be time to dust off the old ROI routine and start measuring PPC success in a new, more dynamic, way.



Aaron Levy brings nearly a decade of experience guiding digital marketing and PPC strategies for clients of all shapes and sizes - from internationally recognized brands and institutions to regional spas and local adoption agencies. Aaron prides himself on the ability to transcend digital advertising, instead focusing on using digital tools to develop data driven marketing strategies while always maintaining a customer focus.

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