How Switching Off Display Can Kill PPC Performance

12th March 2018
by Jacqui Wallis

Determining what works best in your marketing mix is something all marketers grapple with.

Attribution modelling and identifying which channel delivers conversions is vital to any business seeking to achieve the best possible sales performance.

On the whole, most conversions are still attributed on a ‘last click’ basis, identifying the channel that delivered the final sale. Typically, due to its position in the sales funnel, a lot of activity is attributed to search.

But what about the contribution of other channels? If we invest in other media further up the funnel, what impact do they have on sales outcomes?

One way of testing this is to switch off a channel and measure the wider impact on the overall campaign.

But with targets and sales objectives to hit, this is obviously hardly ever possible.

Recently, however, we had the opportunity to test this exact scenario, and the results were so startlingly clear that we wanted to share them.


The Campaign

Running a multi-discipline campaign across display and PPC, we could see conversions coming in throughout the campaign. As is common, according to last click analysis, PPC was the most successful conversion channel. However, when the display portion of the campaign ended, the client decided to continue the search part on its own.

The Results

The effect was marked. Though the investment in PPC remained the same, conversions all but ceased, and with almost immediate effect.  There were still impressions available on PPC, but we recorded zero conversions.

What this may point to is the branding effect of display contributing to PPC performance. And it suggests that display activity heightens overall brand recognition, serving to augment PPC campaigns by increasing the likelihood of both brand searches and positive responses within more generic terms. In other words, display plays a key role in delivering results as part of a wider, cross-platform campaign.

Our Thoughts

Traditional attribution setups don’t always cater to measure such impacts – but at Addition Plus, we strongly believe they should.

Making the full spectrum of campaign tactics more measurable is vital for digital advertising to deliver on its promise.  And the ability to accurately say which medium has influenced the consumer is a key part of that.

Although this example is straightforward, at Addition Plus, we create bespoke attribution models for our clients, to match each of the unique set of challenges they face. Because in today’s market, knowing what works is no longer optional – it’s essential.

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