Whether you’re new to the industry or a weathered veteran, you know that the programmatic advertising space can be complex. The endless buzzwords, acronyms, and concepts in the field can quickly become overwhelming. To overcome this, it’s best to tackle one concept at a time.
Today’s concept? Conversions. Conversions are an important metric for understanding the performance of your campaigns. Read on to discover the difference between view-through and click-through conversions.
Real Quick—What’s a Conversion?
A conversion can be anything you want it to be! Well, not anything. But a conversion is basically a sale as a result of your ad. The sale is not the sale of a product; it could be someone clicking through on your 300×600 banner to book a test drive at your dealership, someone downloading an eBook after being served with a native ad—pretty much any action that you consider valuable to your campaign.
What’s a Conversion Window?
As consumers, we know that when we see an ad, even if it captures our interest, we don’t always click on it. We may add it to that little subconscious folder in the back of our brains and in a week or so, we may have the sudden urge to do some additional research on whatever we saw in that ad.
A conversion window takes into account this period of time between an ad impression and a conversion. A conversion window is typically 30 days, and the window starts immediately after a user views or clicks on an ad. If that user converts within the 30 days window, the conversion is recorded.
What are View-Through Conversions?
This is where view-through conversions (VTCs) come in. Simply put, a view-through conversion happens when someone is served with an ad for the first time—their first impression—doesn’t click on it, but converts at a later time.
That conversion may happen at any time within the view-through conversion window. The VTC window starts as the first impression is served and continues until there is a conversion within a certain number of days.
In a DSP, the view-through (and click-through) window defaults to 30 days. You can shorten or lengthen it depending on your brand, product or campaign performance objectives. Typically, advertisers will set the same window across all other platforms used in their marketing mix. It’s important to be mindful of what is appropriate for your campaigns as well as the shelf-life of cookies.
If you choose a 30 days window, any conversions that happen within 30 days following an impression being served are tracked as conversions in your reports. The longer the conversion window is, the more conversions you’ll typically see.
Wait—do all conversions have windows? Yes.
What are Click-Through Conversions?
Windows apply to click-through conversions (CTCs) as well. By definition, a click-through conversion is when a user clicks an ad and later converts as a direct result of clicking that ad. Just like with view-through conversions, that conversion doesn’t need to take place immediately. The key difference is that with VTCs, the ad has only been seen, where as with CTCs, the ad has been clicked.
Remember, the time frame or ‘window’ can be modified at anytime. The clock starts the moment a user clicks on your ad, and will track them until they convert—as long as it is within the window of days that you’ve outlined.
Conversions Tell a Story
Understanding the difference between view-through and click-through conversions will help you optimize your ads. That’s because view-through conversions give you a better picture of upper- and middle-funnel performance than click-through conversions.
There is more to understanding conversions—we’re just scratching the surface here when discussing the different types of conversions. For example, uncovering more of the story behind each conversion is helpful for guiding campaign optimizations further. Important parts of the story may include identifying the time from click to conversion, the domain of each conversion, or the device of each conversion.