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3 Ways to Track Traditional Ads Brand Effectiveness Online

It’s been long known that traditional advertising affects online behaviors and website traffic.  It seems as though this idea or understanding still falls by the wayside when traditional ads and campaigns are being created.

There are many articles demonstrating how online ads affect offline sales, such as this one from RKG, another with Google’s weigh in, and it appears Coca-Cola is still trying to figure it out.  This is also very important to online marketing efforts and the correlation between the two.  It’s clear that the blending of both online and offline, to be truly integrated, is extremely important.   We’ll discuss the impacts offline has on online, and how to track the effectiveness.


Traditional advertising plays a large role in branding. How this branding is demonstrated or carried over online can be assessed through Website Analytics, Trends (such as Google Trends), and Webmaster Tools (thanks Google and Bing).  There are my other ways to track this, but for the sake of brevity, we’ll talk about these three readily available tools.

Website Analytics

Branded keyword searches and spikes in impressions/clicks can help to identify the effectiveness of an offline campaign.  If there are large spikes of branded keyword searches to the website just as and after an ad comes out, this can be an indication of the effectiveness of the ad.  Direct traffic to the website can also be an indicator for effectiveness.

Tracking these measurables through your web analytics, such as in the demonstration below, indicates when and how these efforts are working.  Setting up annotations in the analytics helps to identify and historically track what has taken place and what impact it has had on your brand.  Assuming you have already set up cost per lead (CPL), cost per acquisition (CPA), or some other form of ROI tracking, you can then get a better idea of the return from your traditional ads.  Getting users to convert to a lead involves other tactics such as conversion optimization, which is discussed in the context of talent acquisition here.


The chart above is an example of when an offline ad goes out on a Friday (in this case from the MSP Business Journal) and gets a spike in traffic the following Monday as business owners get back into the swing of things at work. This jump in traffic is also tracked to the key conversion points defined by the business for ROI.

Webmaster Tools

Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster Tools both help online marketers and webmasters better understand how their website is performing in each search engine, and also helps them to identify if the search engines are having issues with their website.

Both of these tools demonstrate the volume of impressions and clicks the website is receiving on any given day or week.  These impressions, when viewed in coordination with a traditional ad campaign, can help to identify how the website is performing in terms of visibility during an offline advertising campaign.

Here is an example of an offline ad going live and the impact it had on impressions of the website in Google at the launch of the ad.  This helps to demonstrate that the offline ad is generating visibility online, as the volume of impressions spikes once the ad goes out.


If the website is not set up or is not in a position to capture the impressions and clicks that are being generated from an offline advertising campaign, then you may have missed the boat.  Making sure this is in position is done through search engine optimization, potentially pay per click, and other online avenues. 

Search Interest and Trends

Google Trends provides a valuable look into search interest. This means, how much are people reallysearching for a particular keyword. In this instance, we’ll look at a brand.

In using Google Trends, we can research the volume of search interest for any given branded term over time.  When traditional ad campaigns go out, looking at the search interest is another key aspect as it shows the overall interest in the brand, not just if the website is showing up for these given branded search impressions.

Here is the web search interest for “Coke”:


In fact, it can even be drilled down to the search interest in a given location or larger city.  Therefore, if there is a large offline ad campaign going in a major market city, the branded search interest can be gauged in those locations to help to understand the offline ad impact online. Branded keywords can also be viewed in coordination with keyword modifiers such as “coke rewards,” which helps to also drill down on an offline campaign initiative. This same assessment can be done through Webmaster Tools and web analytics. The difference between Webmaster Tools and Trends is that through trends, we are looking at the search interest holistically rather than basing it on the website’s impressions on Google for the given branded keyword.


Pulling all of this together will help you determine whether or not your ad was effective (a.k.a., something that should be run again, or something that should be put on the shelf and never touched again). Looking at insights of how an offline campaign is performing is one thing, but helping to quantify it by looking at the effects it’s having online is truly another, and will help you to get a clearer picture of your offline ad campaign effectiveness.

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