ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Measuring Advertising

Updated on February 9, 2021
heidithorne profile image

Heidi Thorne is an author and business speaker with over 25 years of experience in sales, marketing, advertising, and public relations.


Many small business owners are prone to measuring advertising campaign results by how many people tell them they saw one of the ads. This is the absolute worst way to measure response! Why? Three reasons:

  1. People can't remember seeing particular ads since they are overwhelmed with hundreds of advertising messages every day. Sometimes, if prompted, they can recall. But even then, they have imperfect recall or may respond in the positive to please the survey taker. (It happens!)
  2. Recalling an ad doesn't mean that they will or even plan to purchase.
  3. People are unlikely to voluntarily tell a business they saw an ad.

It's easy to understand why these owners would be inclined to measure response by ad recall. Advertising is expensive and they desperately want to see if their investments paid off... now! As well, results can be difficult to assess and getting a yes/no response feels like a result... even though it's not.

Case of the Phantom Radio Ads

When I was in marketing for the trade show business, show managers and clients would always want to know how successful the advertising we suggested was in drawing in crowds. Against my better judgment, we proceeded with a survey for a consumer recreational show.

Staffers wandered through the crowds and asked attendees where they saw or heard ads for the show. Biggest response was WGN radio, a popular news station in the Chicago area. What was interesting was that we didn't run any ads on that station. While the show may have had a mention on some community calendar, fact was that zero ads for the show were run on WGN. Attendees were merely responding with their favorite or most easily recalled radio station.

Lesson: Never ask people where they saw an ad.

Advertising Statistics to Watch

Even though it still may yield some imperfect measurements, any or all of the following statistics can be used for more hard data. While actual numbers are important, of more concern are trends upward or downward. Care must be taken to not overreact to minor fluctuations. That's why looking at trends over an extended period of time will help advertisers make better decisions.

  • Total sales in dollars. This is where the proverbial rubber meets the road. But tying specific sales to various ads is challenging if not sometimes impossible. Look at total sales from before campaign began and at the end of the campaign period. If the campaign is running continuously, observe sales daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annually. Frequency of monitoring will depend on what is appropriate for the business. Monthly or quarterly is recommended as a minimum monitoring frequency for any size or type of business.
  • Product sales. If the advertisements were promoting a specific product or service, those sales would be measured specifically at beginning and end of campaign or, if a continuing offer, on a frequency similar to that for total sales (discussed above).
  • Number of sales or customers. Merely looking at total sales revenues may mask the fact that there are only a few customers who have high purchase volume. If the number of sales and/or customers is not increasing, it can put a business into a very precarious position if those few customers quit buying.
  • Promotion redemption rate. If the advertisements contain a promo code or coupon promotion, measuring the number of promotions redeemed is easy to measure. The temptation is to think that the number of promotions redeemed are the only results of the campaign. This overlooks the possibility that people may buy things other than those promoted. Measuring redemption rate merely shows how effective the promotion was in generating action.
  • Traffic. Measuring traffic to a website or physical location is another relatively easy metric to help determine advertising effectiveness, realizing that they might not all be buyers. But they may buy other things. Trends in traffic should be compared to trends in total sales and product sales.
  • QR code scans. QR codes, those checkerboard looking bar codes, can also be used to measure traffic and response if integrated into advertisements, usually in printed media. Use a QR code generator that has a scan analytics function.
  • Inquiries. Similar to traffic, number of total sales inquiries can be counted. Inquiries for a specific product or service can be monitored. However, realize that even if someone sees an ad for another product in the business' offerings, they may contact to inquire about the availability of a similar product to that advertised. Looking at specific and overall inquiries is recommended.

All of the above can also be broken down by geography if that is relevant to the business. This would likely be the case for businesses with physical locations. For Internet advertising, however, it may not be necessary.

Tracking Advertising and Sales

Set up spreadsheets to track whatever sales advertising metrics from the list above that are going to be monitored. Some accounting software programs can do this. Check with your software provider or accounting professional for details.

The spreadsheet or report should note advertising goals established when designing the ad campaign, as well as compare the goals to the actual numbers.

Updating this report should ideally be done weekly, monthly, quarterly and annually. For some, even daily monitoring may be appropriate, although for most small businesses, that is not necessary. With careful continuous monitoring, problems and opportunities can be identified and acted upon early.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2013 Heidi Thorne


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)