How to Match Ad Channel Strategy to Advertising KPIs

2 Hard Truths & 1 Invaluable Rule for Digital Marketers

As a marketer, it’s easy to come down with “shiny new thing” syndrome. There are so many advertising channels available in the digital space, and they all have the potential to generate revenue for someone. But that someone might not be you.

So, before you ever run campaigns—even before you start selecting your digital advertising KPIs—you need to determine the right channels for your marketing efforts.

Digital Advertising Channels (And When to Use Them)

Hard truth: If you’re not running your ads on the right channels, you’re not going to get good results.

When you don’t know what you want to watch, you channel surf. When you’re a marketer not sure of your advertising objectives, you do the same thing. Choosing the right advertising channel for your short- and long-term needs is critical for avoiding costly marketing channel surfing. Here’s a short and snappy breakdown of how to match your advertising channels to the right funnel stage.

Display Advertising

Display advertising is most effective for top-of-funnel campaigns that focus on the awareness stage of capturing customers. These ads are best for getting lots of relevant eyes on your offer and keeping your business top-of-mind.

You should be tracking: awareness advertising KPIs such as and cost per mille (CPM), clicks or click-through rate (CTR), in addition to reach, impressions served, and web visits (new users, users, bounce rate, etc.)

Native Advertising

Native advertising is a great tool for middle-of-funnel audiences. These are the audiences that you want to begin building relationships with via engagement. Native ads are great for engagement because they provide relevant, valuable information to potential customers.

You should be tracking: engagement KPIs such as impressions, clicks, click-through rate (CTR), page visits, time on site/page, and likes, shares, and follows.

Paid Search Ads

When a person typically visits the Google search bar, they have already established a problem or road block and are looking for a solution. Your search ad’s goal is to convince them that your product or service is not only what they’re looking for, but what they need.

You should be tracking: engagement KPIs such as cost per click (CPC), clicks or CTR, and sessions.

Paid Social Ads

Paid social ads are an incredibly versatile tool in that they can be used from the top through the bottom of the funnel.

You should be tracking: multiple advertising KPIs that indicate you are spreading brand and/or product awareness (impressions, reach, follower count), getting them to engage (likes, comments, CTR), and converting visitors (revenue, conversation rate, cost-per-action).

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A Multi-Channel Strategy Places Ads on The Right Channels At the Right Time

Hard truth: If you’re not tracking the right advertising KPIs, you’ll never reach your campaign goals…because you haven’t actually defined your campaign goals.

A good channel strategy is a multi-channel strategy devised from a combination of your objectives and channel strengths. Don’t fall into the trap of channel surfing—be intentional with your channel strategy.

For example, imagine you’re an established coffee brand entering the world of e-commerce and you want to run ads on TikTok. What are your expectations for this channel? Do you want your video ads to raise brand awareness, or are you trying to convert customers?

These questions will help you determine the correct KPIs for your goals and build a stronger marketing strategy overall. Not all advertising KPIs are created equal, so don’t treat them that way! Be intentional about setting realistic goals for each marketing channel you employ.

Let’s put that into practice. Imagine you’re selling bespoke leather phone cases (fancy!). Here’s how you’d match your goals to the right channels.

Goal #1: “I want to make my brand more visible among potential buyers.”

Channel: Display advertising

KPI: Impressions

Goal #2: “I want to get more social media engagement so my brand stays top of mind.”

Channel: Social media

KPI: Likes, follows, comments, shares

Goal #3: “I want my ads to increase store sales.”

Channel: Paid search

KPI: Conversion rate[6] 

If you can’t clearly state your campaign goals, then you’re taking a shot in the dark when picking an advertising channel. Use the quick framework above to make sure there’s a clear line connecting your goal to your channel, and finally to your reporting KPIs.

The #1 Rule for A Successful Channel Strategy

Here’s the most important rule you need to remember for building a successful strategy: follow the data! The information provided here is based on “best practice” knowledge of advertising. However, what’s good for the group might not be good for your business.

By tracking the correct advertising KPIs for your campaign objectives, you’ll gather critical information about the channels that are performing best for your business. Ultimately, KPIs are lead indicators that identify if you’re moving in the right direction of your goals. You shouldn’t use these KPIs as blinders that distract you from your overall marketing strategy, but rather as guideposts that keep you on track.

Using the right KPIs allows you to leverage advertising data reports and optimize performance across all channels. With this foundation, you can turn your marketing data into full-funnel Advertising Intelligence.