Before we start dissecting Google AdWords View-through Conversions and their role in AdWords management, let’s first get a basic understanding of what a View-Through conversion is: A View-Through Conversion (VTC) occurs when an image or rich media ad is shown to an individual who ends up completing a conversionary action on your site without ever clicking on an image or rich media ad prior to the conversion. The window in which a View-Through Conversion can be recorded is defaulted to 30 days, but you can decrease the window to coincide with your marketing goals.
Here’s a real-life example of a View-Through Conversion: you’re on Forbes.com and you see an image ad for sporting equipment. You decide not to click on the ad, and continue browsing on Forbes.com. The next day, you end up visiting and making a purchase from the site that had displayed the sporting equipment ad to you on Forbes.com. This counts as a VTC because you saw, but did not click, on the image ad that was shown. It does not matter how you ended up getting to the site, whether organically, directly typing in the URL or even clicking on a search engine-based ad, as long as you didn’t click on an image or rich media ad and converted within the VTC window, it will count as a VTC.
The value of a View-Through Conversion is widely debated in the internet marketing world. Questions arise pertaining to the effect an unclicked image or rich media has on customer’s conversion path. Had the ad not been there, would they have gone to the website and converted anyway? Since they did not click on the ad, did they not like it? Did they even see it? Was the last click conversion purely a coincidence or did the ad play a pivotal role in the path towards a conversion? Unfortunately, we don’t have a definitive answer to these questions without the solution to the chaos theory or Doc Brown’s time-traveling DeLorean. What we do have is lots and lots of data that can be analyzed to find trends in Google’s Display Network View-Through Conversion behavior.
There were many ways to approach our data in hopes to find behavioral spikes in VTCs; I chose to focus on the size of an image ad and the correlation it had on their conversion rates and the corresponding VTC rates. I used data from seven ecommerce-based businesses, where the conversionary action is the purchase of a physical product, then segmented the data for three different ad sizes; 160×600, 728×90 and 300×250. I only included data from ad groups that had all three sizes and used the same ad theme for each size to avoid favoritism in ad copy style.
By analyzing the data one thing becomes apparent: View-through Conversions do matter. The data reveals VTC rates and regular conversion rates follow the same trend line when segmented by ad size. If the conversion rates were higher for a particular ad size, then the VTC rates were also higher. This means VTCs are not random in relation to ad size. The greater the conversion rate, the greater the View-through Conversion rate.
Without acknowledging the plentiful uncontrolled variables, and there are many, we’ve determined that view-through conversions are not completely bogus. The data may be raw but it cannot be ignored. As time progresses and technology advances we will be able to obtain more concrete data (e.g. http://adwords.blogspot.com/2013/06/see-full-impact-of-unclicked-display.html.) Until then, we will have to be satisfied that we answered at least one of the many VTC-orientated questions; does an unclicked ad have an effect on the path to a conversion? Yes.