Using conversion lift reporting: Best practices

If you want to gain insight into the effectiveness of ad exposure across devices, conversion lift reporting is a no-brainer. Contributor and Twitter research head Jeffrey Graham shares some tips to help you get started.


Performance marketing is all about driving value and efficiency. The most successful marketers start with a solid strategy, and then use careful measurement and optimization to drive the highest returns possible.

This approach relies on good data and robust measurement systems. When these break down, marketers lose visibility into the performance of their investment and leave money on the table.

Unfortunately, a breakdown in measurement is now a reality for online performance marketing.

In the past, when most online activity happened on the desktop, cookie-based measurement systems could accurately track conversions. Today, much of our content consumption happens on mobile devices. Mobile devices are a constant companion, and the immediacy of the medium means that we consume content in short bursts and often use different devices throughout the day.

For performance advertisers, this means that measuring results is more challenging than ever. The cookie-based approach that worked well on desktop just doesn’t work when multiple devices are involved.

Cross-device conversion paths are no longer the exception; they are becoming the rule.

Given this new reality, conversion lift reporting is becoming an increasingly important tool.

With conversion lift reporting, advertisers can measure, causally, the incremental impact of their marketing spend from one specific channel. Since other media exposure is held constant, it’s possible to separate conversions driven by a particular campaign from conversions that were driven by other marketing activities. This data can be used to optimize campaigns while they are live and provide important data for post-campaign reporting.

What’s more, conversion lift reporting allows performance marketers to measure conversions across devices, and over time.

We’ve been helping clients use conversion lift reporting to get more insight into their marketing spend and get more value from their investments. Here are some best practices we’d like to share:

1. Planning is key

Meaningful measurement is strategy-led. Careful planning is a prerequisite to getting data and insights that are valuable and actionable.

The first thing to do is to clearly determine campaign goals. What specific actions will you be measuring?

We have seen a diverse array of conversion outcomes. E-commerce clients tend to measure actions: visits, sign-ups or purchases. Wireless phone carriers want to measure carrier switching. Travel clients sometimes measure visits to specific locations. Through proper planning, all of these scenarios can be measured via conversion lift reports.

Before the campaign is in full swing, be sure to work with your media partner to ensure that you’re getting the data you need for the outcomes you are focused on.

2. Open your attribution window

When you advertise, typically only a small percentage of people engage with your campaign. Many more people, however, are exposed to your message.

Intuitively, you know that there is value in millions of people seeing your campaign, but how do you assign value to those impressions if you can’t track a cookie? Conversion lift reporting can pinpoint where incremental value may be found in your marketing investment, allowing for a more precise accounting of marketing return.

Since not all conversions happen immediately, consider applying conversion lift reporting to downstream conversions — the ones that happen later, not directly from a click on the ad you are measuring.

Because conversion lift reports are set up as an experiment, you will be able to attribute actions that happen later as the result of your advertising, even after a period of several days. This allows you to attribute value to ads beyond the click, giving you more precise information about ad performance.

Recently, we worked with a large consumer products advertiser whose campaign focused on driving purchases on their website. When we looked at post-click reporting via a conversion tracking pixel, this method showed that their campaign generated about 2,000 conversions.

That didn’t tell the full story, though. We also found that people who were exposed to the campaign but who did not click also converted. With a seven-day attribution window, we saw that these non-click exposures led to more than 35 percent more post-view purchases.

Conversion lift reporting helped the advertiser use information from the total value of their campaign to optimize their channel spending and creative placements.

3. Measure exposure, but drive up engagement

Our research shows that users who are exposed to campaigns are 1.4x more likely to convert, which means that exposure alone has value, particularly when this value is measured over time.

This does not mean that getting people engaged with your ad is unimportant, however. Our analysis also shows that people who engage with performance advertising are 3.2x more likely to convert than unexposed users. Exposure is valuable, and engagement can be even more so.

The basic guidelines to effective performance marketing creative apply. A clear value proposition, a strong call to action and interesting and visually arresting creative drive conversions no matter how they are measured.

However, getting accurate conversion lift data can help marketers optimize campaigns across creative and channels based on the full value that the advertising is providing — not just the immediate clicks.

Mobile continues to evolve, and how we measure the impact of marketing spend needs to evolve with it. Conversion lift reporting can help marketers catch up to the reality of media usage and the different ways it can drive business outcomes.

Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.

(Some images used under license from


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