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How to Analyze What Consumers Read After They See Your Ads

Date published: November 08, 2017
Last updated: July 9, 2024

You might think you know who your customers are. After all, you deal with them every day and think about them even when you’re not at work. And yet, you can always stand to learn more about your current and potential consumers based on their behaviors. If you know the kind of content that drives them to engage with your brand, you can discover the places they spend time online and the kinds of messages that motivate them.

The ability to gather this kind of data and successfully market brands with it is why most companies — about 74 percent, according to research firm, Forrester — admit that they want to be more data-driven. However, consumer data and actionable insights are not the same thing, which might be why only 29 percent of them successfully turn data into action.

Consumers today do not act the way they did just a few years ago, and they interact with companies and brands through a wider variety of channels. They respond to content differently on different platforms. They conduct a lot of research between first contact with a brand and purchasing a product. Above all, consumers want to interact on a personal level with the companies they do business with.

To reach a potential consumer base that covers virtually every background and demographic, you need to be able to reach consumers on a personal level. Doing so requires more than just data, but also real insights that explore every step that influenced a consumer’s decision to buy your product.

What Happens After a Consumer Views an Ad?

Marketers who understand the behavior of their customers can gain insights before and after their messaging has reached the audience. For instance, when potential customers see a digital ad on a news site, a campaign with true attribution metrics can gauge the impact of that ad on anything those consumers do afterward.

The goal of marketing attribution is to help you understand the value of engagement every time consumers interact with an aspect of your campaign. Did a consumer go straight to your website and buy your product after seeing the ad on a news site? Or did the ad pique the consumer’s interest, prompting him to accept an email from your brand later that eventually led to a purchase?

Maybe one consumer searched for reviews of your product after seeing a digital ad or reading a whitepaper. Maybe others searched for all of the products in your market to compare prices and look for discounts. In some cases, a single ad might have been all that was needed to convince a consumer that he should trust your brand.

The point is this: Once your brand piques the interests of savvy consumers, most of them will do a lot of research to determine what they truly value. In fact, according to a 2016 Nielsen survey, 63 percent of consumers say they research products online before buying, 52 percent compare prices, and 46 percent search for discounts.

Marketing attribution, including product-specific content engagement as well as tracking of key performance indicators, can show you that activity so you can reach consumers on the levels they value most.

Successfully Analyzing Content Consumption

Analyzing what content consumers engage with and how they interact with your brand afterward can provide valuable insights to guide your brand’s marketing campaigns. In many cases, you might be surprised to learn how broad your potential consumer base is and how best to interact with them.

For example, by tracking a fashion retailer’s recent campaign with a major online publisher, we saw a surge in purchases after they optimized their ad placement on the basis of content consumption. Somewhat surprisingly, readers of cooking and celebrity content were less interested in fashion ads. Instead, they found that readers who looked for articles about careers, science and technology, travel, and business were much more motivated. The retailer adjusted the ad placement accordingly, which helped fuel an increase in interest conversions.

The value of knowing your audience’s content consumption habits after being exposed to your brand is not a hidden secret. Those insights are what many brands are now promised when they buy big data. Though relatively few marketers are able to fully deliver on that promise, there are several ways you can ensure that your campaign benefits from such insights.

  1. Develop KPIs first.

You don’t need to measure multiple spreadsheets full of KPIs, you just need to measure the right ones. Before running any campaign, you should know whether you’re measuring for brand awareness and engagement, trying to build a roster of contacts, or trying to chip away at market share.

Once you have your goal in mind, you can develop or define KPIs that will measure the effectiveness of your efforts. From conversion rate to bounce rate to unique site visitors, there are metrics to measure any goal you choose.

  1. Collaborate with your publishers.

Whether it’s on Facebook, Twitter, or a niche blog site, it pays to know whom you’re talking to. Take it from the team at Screen Rant - after tailoring the entertainment website’s content only to direct site visitors, team members discovered their audience was a much broader group who visited the site from links on social media platforms.

When deciding on ad placement with specific publishers or networks, make sure they have good data on who their audiences are and how they interact on the platform. The more they know about the kinds of readers and users they attract, the better they’ll be able to deliver the right message to the right consumers at the right time.

  1. Be open-minded.

As tempting as it might be, don’t rely on your instincts or assumptions alone when it comes to consumer behavior. Rely on the metrics you set, and examine the data they reveal. The spectrum of data sources available is only growing, and what you learn might surprise you.

The fashion retailer we worked with did not expect to learn that users who searched for business-related topics were more likely to be interested in its ads than those who searched for content about cooking. The company found that information only because it was committed to thoroughly tracking consumers’ content consumption habits.

  1. Spend wisely.

Marketing budgets continue to skyrocket, reaching an average of 12 percent of total revenue in 2016, and CMOs will watch the funds closely, so it’s important to spend wisely on every campaign. With good optimization data, you’ll know when to step on the gas and serve more ads and when to pull back.

It isn’t always just about content; it can also be about impression caps. Publishers with strong optimization skills can measure when they’ve served enough impressions to be effective and when running more will start to cause diminishing returns.

The goal of marketing is to engage with your brand’s consumers, but in today’s digital landscape, consumers take more than just advertisements into account when choosing to buy products. Reaching consumers today takes insight into what they value, and that insight requires analyzing their content consumption well beyond your marketing campaign.

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