Super Bowl ad rankings: Trust your gut or employ rational thinking?

What’s the “right” way to measure the success of your advertising? Contributor Peter Minnium says the answer is “it depends,” and goes on to explain why.

The Super Bowl is the single most viewed televised event in the US. Every year, more than 100 million people tune in to see who will be crowned NFL champion. There is no bigger or brighter stage for impactful ad content, so it is no wonder that a 30-second commercial this year sold for an average of $5 million. With the stakes that high, brands fight tooth and nail for audience attention and, like most consumers, they want to make sure they get their money’s worth.

Though the need for strong evaluative metrics is clear, the means of selection is less evident. Ad Meter, Real Eyes, YouTube, Ipsos (my employer) and many others all created rankings of winners — but each used a different system and got different results. This year, Amazon’s Alexa ad crowned USA Today’s Ad Meter rankings, while Tide, which did not even make the Ad Meter top 10, won out in the inaugural neuro study conducted by Ipsos.

When you’re right, you’re right

While your first instinct may be to assume that one of these studies got it wrong, the divergence in these ratings represents differences in testing approaches, each reflecting a distinct goal and research philosophy. Though methodologies vary, the most dramatic distinctions arise between studies that evaluate audiences’ conscious responses and those that measure nonconscious reactions.

Behavioral science research has revealed that people employ two kinds of information processing: System 1 and System 2. The former is automatic, rapid, efficient, and often operates below our conscious awareness. It can be thought of as our intuitive “gut” reactions and feelings. By contrast, System 2 is controlled, analytical, and deliberate. It is only active when we have the ability and the motivation to consciously process information.

System 1 and system 2 in the spin cycle

These different systems come into play at different points in consumers’ exposure to a brand’s narrative. In the early stage of a product’s lifecycle, the best communication strategy may be to inform and educate prospects as to the new product’s superiority to other existing solutions. Emotional appeals may not reach a skeptical consumer, but providing viewers with the information they need to make an informed judgment can help win them over.

After the early stages of a product’s lifecycle, when the shine of the new has fallen away and other products have caught up in terms of rational benefits, it’s the brand’s image, relative appeal, and closeness that drive consumer choice. Lists of product benefits and demonstrations of their relative strengths become burdensome to viewers, while emotionally-stirring or visually-exciting ads can captivate their attention and maintain their interest.

Picking the right tool for measuring effectiveness

Just as the stages of a product’s lifecycle should inform the choice between educational and emotive advertising, a brand’s needs dictate whether an understanding of an ad’s System 1 or System 2 impact is most relevant. When making this determination, it is important to consider the strengths and limitations of viewer self-reporting. While System 2 studies may yield more thoughtful responses, they can overlook nonconscious viewer engagement.

Like most research techniques, the Ad Meter evaluates participants’ articulated response to individual ads. It relies entirely on viewers’ conscious assessment of the ads with self-recruited panelists scoring each ad on a 1 to 10 scale. As marketers we are very familiar with these types of survey questions: “Which ad did you like best”, “Which ads did you dislike”, or “Which ads were most memorable?” These are all examples of System 2 processing.

Measure reactions with the blink of an eye

Methodologies that measure System 1 processing of ad content may be less familiar, but they can be powerful. Neuroscience has armed researchers with an arsenal of techniques, including EEG (electroencephalogram), Facial Coding, Eye Tracking, and Biometrics. The merit of each of these approaches is determined by the importance of recreating a natural viewing environment and which level of analysis most directly answers a brand’s questions.

  • EEGs measure fluctuations in the brain’s electrical activity using a headset. They provide great temporal resolution by matching voltage spikes and waves to the introduction of stimuli and can be read at fast speeds, giving almost immediate results. However, EEGs struggle to simulate a natural viewing environment, as respondents are required to wear a headset and must be mindful of moving while participating in the study.
  • Facial coding reads emotions from facial expressions — happiness, surprise, sadness, disgust, fear, and confusion. It can track minute changes in mood, revealing if a scene is having the desired effect. Capable of distinguishing between a sincere and an insincere smile, it can provide great insight about the true emotional state of viewers when watching ads, but participants need to sit in front of a camera and remain focused on the content.
  • Eye tracking measures the movement of a viewer’s gaze across the screen and allows practitioners to see through the audience’s eyes. It is one of the best ways to determine what attracts and captures a viewer’s attention, though it does little to explain what (if anything) the viewer is experiencing. Eye tracking also requires participants to sit in front of a specialized camera, which, while less intrusive than an EEG, is still short of a natural viewing environment.
  • Biometrics can be measured in many ways, including Galvanic Skin Response (GSR), also referred to as skin conductance or electro-dermal activity. When the viewer becomes excited, sweat production increases, making it possible to directly monitor the impact of stimuli on the viewer. Measuring GSR is far less disruptive than other System 1 tests, as it does not require cumbersome equipment or severely limits participants’ movement.

Tides of sweat make for winning ads

GSR was chosen for Ipsos’ study because it was deemed the best way to collect System 1 data while preserving the natural viewing environment so important for the Super Bowl. The human body has the highest number of sweat glands in the hands and feet, making them ideal sites for testing. In the interest of both maximizing accuracy and minimizing disruption, a wearable Shimmer GSR device — designed to be attached to participants’ fingers — was used.

Image via Shimmer

Participants enjoyed the Super Bowl in the comfort of a small theater, while the devices tracked their levels of excitement. When Alshon Jeffery reached for a one-handed catch, Eagles fans tensed in anticipation. Their heart rates spiked, and sweat production increased, as part of their bodies’ natural response. Every time David Harbour delivered his soon-familiar line–” It’s a Tide ad” –their amusement was nonconsciously expressed the same way.

It all comes back to the brand

The ads in this year’s Super Bowl were tested and ranked by no fewer than six companies using various System 1 and System 2 methodologies. Each was “right” for a specific context, delivering a unique perspective on the ads’ impact on viewers. Smart marketers and their agencies know to choose a methodology based on their specific objectives and are paying increasing attention to the needs of their communication to engage System 1 and System processing.

Measuring how offline marketing drives website traffic: The fundamentals

Looking to track your offline marketing campaigns? Contributor John Lincoln walks you through the process and the tools you’ll need to help you determine which offline marketing channels are the most effective.

You may still favor “old school” methods to get the word out about your website. But how do you track this offline marketing?

If you don’t measure the success of your effort, you’ll never know if it’s giving you a positive return. Fortunately, there are cloud-based solutions to help you with that.

In this article, we’ll go over some of the ways you can track offline marketing with online tools.

Set up Google Analytics and Search Console

Before you can track your offline performance, you first need to set up a couple of online tools. Start with Google Analytics.

You can get Google Analytics set up by just installing the tracking code on your website. Google is happy to walk you through that process.

Also, you should set up your site with Google Search Console. That tool will give you important search analytics about your site.

Fortunately, Google offers a step-by-step tutorial on setting up your website with Search Console as well.

Once you’ve got your tools set up, it’s time to start looking at how to track offline marketing campaigns.

Use specific URLs

One of the best and easiest ways to track the success of your offline campaigns is with custom URLs.

How can you do that? By creating a separate landing page and URL for each offline channel.

Then, include the channel-specific URL in marketing literature.

Let’s look at an example. Suppose you’re running print ads in your town’s newspaper and also hand-distributing fliers at a local trade show.

You want to track the interest you get from the print ads and the fliers. So, you create two separate landing pages, each with its own unique URL.

Then, you put one URL on the print ad and another on the fliers. People who visit your website from the print ad will go to one URL, while people who visit it after looking at the flier will go to another URL.

After a while, check to see how much interest you got from the print ad versus the fliers.

To do that, fire up Google Analytics. Click on “Behavior” in the left-hand menu and select “Overview” from the drop-down menu that appears.

Scroll through your most popular URLs. You might have to click “view full report” on the lower right-hand side to see everything.

Look for the URLs that you included on the print ads and the fliers. Specifically, make a note of the number of visitors for each URL.

Click on the URL to get additional info about your visitors, such as the average time on page, bounce rate and unique page views (and, of course, conversions).

If you find that you’re attracting a lot of visitors with one type of promotion, it’s a good idea to invest more heavily in that promotion so that you can get even more visitors.

A word about custom URLs

It’s important to take a step back here and look at the types of custom URLs you should use in your marketing literature.

For starters, avoid really long URLs. That’s because you want your URL to be something that’s easy to memorize just in case the person you’re trying to reach loses the literature.

Also, long URLs are a pain to type out, even for people who haven’t lost your ad.

This is an example of a bad URL:

It’s not only too long, but it’s got too much punctuation, and it’s case-sensitive.

To get around the problem of using really long URLs, some marketers visit a URL shortener and create a much shorter URL. That’s usually not a good idea, either.

Why? Because shortened URLs typically aren’t branded.

For example, head over to the Google URL shortener and plug in the link to this article or some other site you’ve visited recently. Chances are, you’ll get a shortened URL that looks like this:

As you can see, your domain name appears nowhere in that link. Also, it’s using mixed case that can easily confuse people who aren’t tech-savvy.

It’s usually best to use branded URLs. Take a look at these examples:

Both of those URLs include the domain name. Obviously, you’d substitute your own domain name for

As the text implies, the first URL is the one you’d include on a flier. The second one is one that you would put on a print ad.

People who visit the first URL found out about your site from reading the flier. People who visit the second URL found out about it from reading the print ad.

The good news is that you can add as many different URLs after your domain as you want to. Your hosting provider might have some restrictions, but they’re probably fairly generous.

Some marketers also like to use “vanity URLs.” Those are separate domain names that you create just for marketing purposes.

For example, if your domain name is, you might create a vanity like Then, you’d use the vanity in your marketing literature.

From a technical perspective, you’d redirect the vanity URL to a landing page on your site with a much longer URL. Or you would have a rel=”canonical” in place.

Keep in mind, though, when you opt for a vanity URL with a separate domain, you’ll have to fork over some cash to keep that domain alive. It’s usually not that expensive, though.

Watch out for duplication!

When you use custom URLs with separate landing pages, you risk running afoul of Google’s good graces with duplicate content. That’s because each landing page will have much of the same content.

In some cases, they’ll have exactly the same content.

Fortunately, there’s a way around the duplicate content problem. Just tell Google not to index your landing pages.

How can you do that? With a meta tag.

It looks like this:

<meta name="robots" content="noindex">

Place that anywhere in the <head> section of your landing page and Google won’t index it.

Use geofilters

A great way to tell if you have an increase in foot traffic after some type of online promotion is with the use of geofilters.

If you run a local radio spot and notice a surge in traffic shortly thereafter, that’s a pretty good sign that your ad was effective.

It’s an especially great idea to use geofilters if you have multiple locations. You can also make sure to mention a custom URL in your radio spot.

Check non-referral traffic analytics

Another way to track offline marketing is by looking at your non-referral traffic analytics.

Head over to Google Analytics and click on “Acquisition” on the left-hand toolbar. Then, select “Overview” from the drop-down menu that appears.

Select a timeline (in the upper right-hand corner) that begins with the date when you launched your latest offline marketing campaign. Then, take a look at “Direct” hits to your site.

Those are people who visited your site by typing the URL into a browser. In other words, they didn’t get there by clicking on a link somewhere else.

It’s likely those people saw the URL in your literature. That’s why they went to your site.

Use that metric to gauge the success of your recent offline venture.

Look for changes in brand name search volume

Next, check out changes in your brand name search volume. For that, you’ll have to use Google Search Console.

Launch Search Console and select your website property. Then, click on “Search Traffic” in the left-hand sidebar. Select “Search Analytics” from the drop-down menu that appears.

On the main screen, select a date range (with the “Dates” radio button). Specify a custom date range that begins when you started your offline marketing push.

Then, click on the “Queries” radio button. Take a look at your top queries for that date range.

If you see your brand name in the list of queries, that means people actually typed it into the search bar. It’s likely that those people learned about your brand name from your offline marketing literature.

Take note of the number of times people searched for your brand name. You can even check it on a day-by-day basis and create some comparisons.

Discount codes

Another way to track offline sales is with the use of discount codes. That’s an especially great idea if your offline marketing is advertising an online sale.

Just include a channel-specific discount code with each of your different marketing efforts. Again, though, make sure the discount code is memorable.

For example, in a radio ad, you might use the discount code “RADIO20.” In hand-distributed fliers, you would use something like “FLIER30.”

After a while, simply check your e-commerce analytics (with whatever tool you use for that purpose) to see how many people used the various discount codes. That will give you some insight as to which offline marketing channel is the most effective.

Wrapping it up

Yes, you can use the wonders of modern technology to track offline marketing. First, though, you have to set up your website with a couple of popular (and free) tools: Google Analytics and Google Search Console. Then, use those tools to determine which channels are giving you the best bang for your buck.

Big data and how to use it: Our top 10 Analytics & Conversion columns for 2017

In this roundup of the analytics topics that caught our audience’s interest this year, you’ll find techniques for utilizing sophisticated tools, as well as tips for landing page success and effective ad targeting.

Much has been written this year about dealing with the influx of data that modern marketers now receive as a matter of course — it’s an issue that many of us are facing these days. You’re expected to take advantage of all this data but not get overwhelmed or spend too much time focusing on the wrong things.

This year, Marketing Land columnists tried to ease this pain with articles about ways to zero in on the most impactful tactics, such as getting in-depth with Google Analytics and Attribution, improving your landing and product pages, and employing data to target ads on Facebook and elsewhere.

Following you’ll see our list of the top columns of the year in the Analytics & Conversion category, where you’ll find plenty of actionable info worth employing in the coming year.

  1. Are you leveraging these underutilized Google Analytics features? by David Booth, published on 2/27/2017.
  2. A 9-step guide to increase your landing page conversion rate by Khalid Saleh, published on 2/20/2017.
  3. A Google Attribution (and Attribution 360) readiness checklist by David Booth, published on 10/9/2017.
  4. 9 studies for landing pages that work by Brian Massey, published on 1/26/2017.
  5. UTM tags + Facebook ads = awesome by Brett Middleton, published on 3/22/2017.
  6. Digital analytics industry veteran roundup: What’s in store for 2017 by David Booth, published on 1/3/2017.
  7. How to inject urgency into your product pages by Ben Jacobson, published on 7/3/2017.
  8. If you want to deliver relevant ads, you’ve got to get better at using data by Grace Kaye, published on 5/8/2017.
  9. 4 advanced targeting strategies for B2B marketers by Jessica Cameron, published on 3/24/2017.
  10. Cheap data: You are about to get so much better at marketing by Brian Massey, published on 1/4/2017.

Why brand marketers often win the battle but lose the war

What’s the point of CTR if you’re not paying attention to ROI? Columnist David Rodnitzky believes marketers need to look beyond the basic metrics to ensure they’re measuring revenue impact.

I recently received an email from an ad tech company with exciting news about TrueView — those minimum five-second pre-rolls you see before watching a video on YouTube:

“We officially launched our self serve AI for DBM TrueView a couple weeks ago . . . All of our clients are currently seeing a 50-70% increase in performance and are able to manage ~25x more campaigns.”

I’ve struggled to make YouTube work for our clients from an ROI perspective, so “a 50-70% increase in performance” got my attention. I scheduled a call.

The salesman explained that clients were seeing dramatic reductions in their “Cost Per View,” or CPV, on YouTube after using this technology, and he gave me an example where a client went from a $.08 CPV down to a $.04 CPV — as promised, a 50 percent improvement.

I then asked the logical question that any performance marketer would pose: How does a CPV reduction result in more ROI for the client? The salesman paused and then said, “Our clients are brands and brand agencies — they only care about getting video views from the right people at the lowest cost possible.”

So how much ROI would this drive?

Optimizing cost without measuring the impact on revenue is like an NBA team drafting players based on how tall they are, without regard to whether they have ever played basketball. And yet, this is apparently a normal enough strategy that a technology company is using artificial intelligence to optimize against it.

Imagine optimizing your Google AdWords campaigns exclusively for click-through rate (CTR) without concern for ROI? It would actually be pretty easy: Just create ads that say “Everything on our site is free! Heck, we’ll give you $100 just for visiting our landing page!”

Or how about optimizing for cost per click (CPC) only? Here’s an easy solution: Switch your geo-settings from the United States to Angola — I guarantee you that the clicks are a lot cheaper there.

The problem with traditional branding is that the measurements of success haven’t changed much from the 1980s, when the best gauge of effectiveness was a “lift study” to figure out whether more Americans had positive feelings about your brand after running an advertising campaign.

Stopping at CPC or CPV is a mistake

Measurement today has the potential to be a lot more precise. A combination of hold-out tests, incrementality analysis, attribution, cross-device tracking and even point-of-sale (POS) data can be (and should be) used to come up with some sort of correlation between, say, a view of a video and whether that view increased the likelihood of an actual downstream revenue event. Stopping at CPV and declaring victory is insufficient.

No, this will never be as measurable as a purely digital, direct response campaign, such as AdWords or Facebook. But somewhere between the precise ROI of an SEM campaign and the asinine “Hey, we’re paying less to have people watch our video!” is a suite of metrics that allow savvy advertisers to feel good that their mid- and top-funnel campaigns are directionally driving profit.

Brand marketers are going to have to figure this out, or they’ll become obsolete. Performance marketers are going to have to figure it out, too, or they will never be able to grow their customers beyond the hand-raisers of Google and the highly targeted browsers of Facebook.

Beyond the buzzword: What “artificial intelligence” means for marketing leaders, right now

By far the greatest danger of artificial intelligence is that people conclude too early that they understand it. ― Eliezer…Read blog postabout:Beyond the buzzword: What “artificial intelligence” means for marketing leaders, right now
The post Beyond …

By far the greatest danger of artificial intelligence is that people conclude too early that they understand it. ― Eliezer...Read blog postabout:Beyond the buzzword: What “artificial intelligence” means for marketing leaders, right now

The post Beyond the buzzword: What “artificial intelligence” means for marketing leaders, right now appeared first on WiderFunnel Conversion Optimization.

Making Marketing Analytics Simple And Easy To Understand

Does the thought of marketing analytics make you cringe? Does it seem overwhelming and time consuming? Many business owners find analytics and reporting a cumbersome task and one they put off until absolutely necessary. If this is you, or you’d like some advanced tips on measuring data, this is the article for you. We look […]

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Making Marketing Analytics Simple And Easy To Understand

Does the thought of marketing analytics make you cringe? Does it seem overwhelming and time consuming?

Many business owners find analytics and reporting a cumbersome task and one they put off until absolutely necessary. If this is you, or you’d like some advanced tips on measuring data, this is the article for you.

We look at making marketing analytics simple and easy to understand so it’s something you want to do, not grudgingly have to do.

First, let’s define marketing analytics.

Marketing Analytics Is…

Marketers (and business owners) use marketing analytics to evaluate the success of their marketing initiatives.

These analytics make up the processes and technologies to measure their performance.

Bottom line – marketing analytics tell you if your marketing programs are working.

You want to gather your data from all of your marketing channels and consolidate it into one common view. From here, you can decide how to drive your future marketing efforts.

To increase your lead generation and ultimately your conversions, you’ve got to know how to interpret your data.

Many business owners think marketing analytics are best left to the experts. We’re here to tell you that you are the expert. No more worries about metrics. You can do it.

To create your report, you want to attend to these items first:

  • Ask yourself what you want to learn.
  • Find the report that answers that question.
  • Put it into your overall marketing analytics.
  • Include a balanced assortment of reports.
  • Assess your strategies.
  • Then, you can use your report to change or revise your marketing strategy.

Here’s how to make marketing analytics simple and easy to understand.

Take Little Bites

When gathering your data, you often have access to multiple metrics. In the beginning start small.

A good place to begin is with page views, conversions and visitor information.

You want to track the most important information first. After you get accustomed to analytics and reporting, you can dive deeper for more metrics.

Marketing experts put much of their emphasis tracking conversions. Why?

This is a much more accurate number for you to gauge your success. Conversions track actual customers doing something on your website, like signing up, downloading information or buying something.

Your conversion rate focuses on dollars and the value of your visitor.

Be the Master

The true analytics expert knows which metrics and data matter and which ones don’t matter so much.

The fact is you don’t need to track everything. It’s too hard to stay on top of it all.

For example, if you want to focus on lead generation, your most important data is page views and your opt-in rate.

Understand Your Data

It also helps to narrow your focus to the most relevant metrics so you know what data to capture.

Here are some areas to look at depending on your business:

Ecommerce businesses can look at conversion rate, total revenue, orders completed, average order value, drop off rate and where that happens and full on cart abandonment.

A business to business company might look at page visits, page views, conversion rate and leads generated.

A business to consumer company might focus on conversion rate, click-through rate and orders completed.

Remain Objective

It’s easy to selectively look at your data and search for things that confirm a hypothesis. You might have something in mind you want to confirm and find data that validates it, but that leads you to ignore all of the contrary information.

Don’t get caught up looking for metrics that confirm what you expect and disregard all other data.

Be objective and look at the data from multiple angles.

For example, many people think a high bounce rate is due to the fact that visitors didn’t like your page. But you have to ask these questions:

  • What is happening?
  • Why is it happening?

Your first instinct is to attribute a high bounce rate to people not liking your page. Yet, there are many other reasons your landing page may have a high bounce rate:

  • Your content is superb and meets the users’ needs, and you only have one call to action that people take and then “bounce” off.
  • The landing page was simply to collect an email address, thus they bounce when they were done.
  • Your page load time is too high.
  • Your page doesn’t meet users’ needs.
  • Users landed on your page from a Google Ad campaign, and your page didn’t match the ad.

The goal is to assess why you have a high bounce rate before arbitrarily deciding you have to redo your entire page.

Know the Value

You’ve probably searched Google for “What’s a good conversion rate?” That isn’t necessarily the same information for everyone.

You want to understand the value of your analytics for your industry. Don’t stack your business up to businesses in other industries because their “good” conversion rate may not be yours.

Your Google search should instead be for, “What’s a good conversion rate in my industry?” Once you’ve narrowed down the field, you really can compare rates.

Comparing to unlike industries sets you up for misplaced expectations.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know how to make marketing analytics simple and easy to understand, we want to leave you with a few more thoughts.

Take advantage of these advanced ways to break down your marketing into analytics you can understand.

If you don’t, you’ll end up with a bunch of marketing information cobbled together that has no relationship with one another.

To make the best decisions for your business, you have to take your entire marketing picture into account.

This means your social media insights, your Google analytics and your emails stats. It means taking a look at all of your marketing efforts in one place so you can decide how to proceed.

Use your marketing analytics to make sound business decisions and drive your future marketing. Use them to refine and test your lead generation to increase your profits.

Tie your marketing efforts to your leads to your bottom line, and you’ll quickly see what’s working and where you can improve.

So, say goodbye to marketing analysis paralysis. Use these advanced tips to make it work for your business.

Are you ready to squeeze more profit out of your website by analyzing your marketing metrics? That’s terrific! We’re here to help you optimize your website so it works fluidly for your website visitors. In fact, we promise you we’ll do just that.

 With our guarantee, you can rest assured we will increase your profits through landing page optimization.

 If you’re ready to work with the leader in landing pages and conversion rate optimization, contact us today.

We’ll provide you with our FREE site performance analysis so we can work on your landing page conversion rates.

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