My personal experience with View Through Conversions (VTCs) is that they provide very little real world lift in sales, in particular when dealing with lower funnel remarketing campaigns. The value increases if you are advertising to a brand-unaware audience, but the value is likely still very small.
But what is the actual value of a View Through Conversion vs a Click Through Conversion? You can theoretically calculate this by running a placebo A/B test of your actual ad vs a Public Service Announcement ad.
Below is such an A/B test that was run on the AdRoll network back in 2013:
Placebo A/B Tests to Measure View Through Conversions
You will likely need assistance from your Ad Platform or agency to properly run this sort of test, and to properly segregate the A and B groups.
Setup a Placebo A/B Test
- Create 2 separate (but equal) non-overlapping campaigns
- Campaign A will serve your “normal” ad
Campaign B will serve a Public Service Announcement ad
- Run both campaigns for a few weeks
- Calculate VTC “lift” as follows:
Real Life Example
VTC “Lift” = (329 – 261) / 329 = 20%
In this real life example, the irrelevant PSA Ads still managed to generate 80% of the View Through Conversion volume that the real ad generated. To be more clear, 261 people saw an ad to adopt a cat, and later went to BOATERexam.com to purchase a boating license.
So 80% of VTCs can be given a value of zero. Of the remaining 20%, more analysis is needed to figure out exactly how they influenced sales. The Real Ad did seem to generate more VTCs than the PSA ad, but the real question is those VTCs result in extra incremental sales or are they simply tracking sales generated by another channel such as e-mail? I don’t have a scientific answer to this, but anecdotally, I think the answer is that the VTCs did NOT result in incremental sales.
NOTE: A few years later we ran a similar Placebo A/B test on Facebook with the help of SocialCode. That test showed ZERO lift from VTCs, and the PSA Ads actually outperformed the real ads from a VTC standpoint!
So how should you value View Through Conversions?
Here are my recommendations:
- Give View Through Conversions a value of ZERO. Unless you can prove otherwise via an A/B test, assume VTCs are not providing any lift to your campaigns. This is especially true for re-marketing campaigns as the visitors have previously visited your site, and may be actively engaged in checkout when the ad is shown.
- Run your own Placebo A/B test. If someone insists on using VTCs in performance metrics, then you should insist on running an A/B test to calculate the true value. You should run at least two tests: One for remarketing audiences and another for brand-unaware audiences.
- Be cautious and skeptical of anyone pushing the value of VTCs especially if they are an ad agency or ad platform that will benefit from including the extra VTCs in their performance metrics.