Display Advertising

The Definitive View on View-Through Attribution - By Catlyn Origitano

Dipping your toe into display advertising can often feel like you’re in the deep end right away - there are so many acronyms to decode (CPM, CPC, VT, etc.) and a multitude of debates on best practices for each. In an effort to help keep your head above water, we at Sojern are breaking down some of the tough topics into smaller, easier to digest pieces, including the ever-controversial view-through attribution model.
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The Definitive View on View-Through Attribution

Sojern

Dipping your toe into display advertising can often feel like you’re in the deep end right away - there are so many acronyms to decode (CPM, CPC, VT, etc.) and a multitude of debates on best practices for each. In an effort to help keep your head above water, we at Sojern are breaking down some of the tough topics into smaller, easier to digest pieces, including the ever-controversial view-through attribution model.

View-Through Defined

Also called VT or post-impressions, view-through attribution is a method of giving credit to advertisers for a conversion. In view-through, an individual is exposed to an ad and then later takes an action, such as visiting a website or purchasing a product.

Despite its fancy name, view-through has actually been around for a long time. It’s the basic idea behind television, radio, and billboard ads: if you hear a commercial for a store or a product, you will go buy it.

How View-Through Works: Cookies & Pixel Placements

With the birth of the digital age, advertisers can now place ads on people’s computers and mobile devices, in addition to TV and billboards. Figuring out how many people viewed your digital ad, however, requires a new, more complex system. 

For example, if you are a hotelier in Oregon, you may want to place ads in front of consumers who are looking for a trip to Portland. Placing those ads costs money, so you’ll also want to know to what extent those ads influence a traveler to book with you. But how exactly does this tracking work?

When the traveler is exposed to your ad, a pixel fires, and drops a cookie on their device. That traveler, then, goes to your website and books directly with you. On your site, you’ll have another pixel that recognizes the presence of that cookie and matches the purchase back to the original ad. By recognizing and matching cookies, you’re able to attribute a purchase to the viewing of an ad. 

Concerns for View-Through Answered

Despite the fact that view-through has been around since the invention of advertising, many now decry it as being fundamentally unmeasurable and problematic for a number of reasons. Let’s review the major concerns for view-through and address them:

It lacks a direct, measurable action. Unlike someone who clicks on an ad, view-through doesn’t have a traceable connection from the viewing of the ad to the purchase. Who’s to say it was the ad, and not a conversation with a friend, that led to the booking? 

  • Answer: It’s not true that you can’t measure view-through, the measurements are just different. View-through is better for people further down the purchase funnel and help customers closer towards making a decision. Someone who’s already booked flights to Oregon are going to be more moved by viewing your hotel ad to book with you and this is exactly where impressions matter. 

Further, according to Marin Software, “Proper view-through attribution can lead to increased search lift. The positive impact of display and social advertising on search activity and conversions is undeniable. It’s been proven by a number of different studies over the past several years.”

The 30-day lookback window is unrealistic. The standard time in which an action can be credited back to an ad is 30 days. Very few purchases require that long to think about, except maybe a car or house. Many, then, decry view-through altogether because of this single standard.  

  • Answer: Try a more performance-based attribution model. If you’re suspicious of attribution models taking credit for everything, consider a timeframe that’s shorter than 30 days and more performance based. 

What’s a Travel Marketer To Do?

So, what model is best? Which one can you actually trust? As with many great debates, things aren’t always as black and white. While view-through attribution may face some challenges, a blended and more nuanced approach can prove beneficial.

We at Sojern understand the nuances of these debates and offer flexibility and accountability in all of our services. In their latest podcast on Paid Advertising and the different models you can use, Fuel, calls us out as being a refreshingly different, performance-based model to look out for. 

If you’re looking to understand more about view-through attribution and what it can do for your campaigns, connect with us!

About Catlyn

Catlyn is Sojern's Content Marketing Manager. She loves playing video games and hiking with her dog, Dottie. Her favorite part of travel is the food, preferring street food to fine dining.



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