Digital Advertising and Public Relations, Part 5: Advertising Measurement

Public relations professionals often make mention of the concepts of earned, owned, and paid media. However, when they begin to talk about media, they quickly brushed past paid media. Ignoring paid media is a capital mistake; doing so ignores a body of strategies and tactics which complement and enhance the power of earned media and public relations. In this series, we’ll examine the tools, techniques, and strategies of paid advertising as they apply to public relations work.

Advertising measurement

In this final part in our series, how do we measure our advertising? While most advertising systems offer built-in reporting, do we truly have a clear view of what’s working and what’s not? Let’s look at how to measure more thoughtfully.

Measurement pre-requisites

Before we measure anything, we must know that we have accurate data. To ensure data integrity, we strongly recommend the use of Google Analytics combined with Google Tag Manager. Properly and completely deployed, these two products can measure the impact of digital advertising.

Key performance indicators

Stakeholders want the most important information first and foremost. What impact did our ads deliver? These are our key performance indicators. Broadly defined, if a key performance indicator goes to zero, our campaign failed.

If we’re executing a campaign for syndication, how much added visibility did we earn? Visibility is our syndication KPI.

If we’re executing a campaign for brand awareness, how much added awareness – from media mentions to consumer purchase intent – did we earn? Awareness is our brand building KPI.

If we’re executing a campaign for retargeting, how many people came back to our digital properties and picked up where they left off? Conversions of existing prospects is our retargeting KPI.

If we’re executing a campaign for direct response, how many people converted and/or purchased? Conversions or sales is our direct response KPI.

Once we’ve established our KPIs, we need the diagnostic metrics which feed into each KPI, indicators that we’re headed in the right direction.

KPI vs. diagnostic

If a Key Performance Indicator is the final outcome, then diagnostic metrics are the ingredients, the measures which lead to the final outcome. For business leaders and strategy-focused professionals, KPIs matter most. For executors, for folks charged with doing the work on the front lines, diagnostic measures are most important. It’s fair to say that for front line practitioners, diagnostic metrics are their KPIs.

With that in mind, let’s examine what the diagnostic metrics are for each of these campaigns, metrics we’d want to track carefully for our front line teams.

Common diagnostic metrics: syndication

In syndication, we want to measure these diagnostic metrics which indicate we’re reaching our crowd:

  • – Ad impressions: did anyone see our content?
  • – Ad clicks: did anyone click to view our content
  • – Content shares: how many people shared the content due to our ads?
  • – Cost per click

Common diagnostic metrics: brand awareness

For diagnostic metrics about brand awareness, we should also measure ad impressions and clicks, but also measure:

  • – On-site page views
  • – Website traffic from ads
  • – Organic branded search from ads
  • – Branded paid search
  • – Cost per click

Common diagnostic metrics: direct response

For direct response ads, ad impressions and clicks are part of the recipe, but they’re very early leading indicators. We should also measure:

  • – Landing page bounce rate
  • – Call to action clicks
  • – Cart/funnel abandonment
  • – Conversions completed
  • – Conversion values
  • – Average revenue per user
  • – Average revenue per session
  • – Cost per conversion

Common diagnostic metrics: retargeting

For retargeting, ad impressions and clicks remain relevant, but we also need to measure:

  • – Percentage of retargeting audience reached
  • – Percentage of retargeting audience converted
  • – Average revenue per user
  • – Average revenue per session
  • – Depending on industry, RFM analysis
  • – Cost per conversion


When it comes to reporting our advertising measurements, we should make our reporting as useful as possible. That means putting our KPIs first, then a deeper dive into the KPIs, then our diagnostic metrics.


In this manner, our stakeholders who care about top-line metrics have what they need at their fingertips. Managers can dig more into the KPIs; tactical staff can examine the diagnostics and make campaign-level adjustments as needed.


This wraps up our 101-level review of paid media basics for the PR professional. This is just the tip of the iceberg; paid media is not only its own profession, but a set of professions. Mastering the basics of paid media takes much more than just a few blog posts. However, now that you’re acquainted with the basics, if it’s of interest to you, you’ve got some starting points for future learnings.

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