What Is Ad Tracking?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Nancy Fann-Im
  • Last Modified Date: 10 October 2019
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Ad tracking is a methodology for evaluating the success of an advertising campaign so a company can make adjustments if necessary and design ad campaigns with the results of prior campaigns in mind. Advertisers want assurance that their methods actually work. An ad that performs poorly might lead to a decision to switch advertising agencies or make other changes. A number of techniques for tracking are available.

In the process of developing an ad campaign, companies think about the demographic and market they want to target. They want to spend as little as possible on the campaign while still reaching the right consumers. Ad tracking can help a company determine if it designed a campaign well, paid for placement in the right locations, and reached the consumers it wanted to. If the analysis reveals poor performance, the company can rework the ad campaign to limit damage and salvage the remainder of the campaign.

The most common technique is a survey. Companies can issue surveys at regular intervals or at random. In a survey, representatives contact consumers who should have been exposed to the campaign, and they ask a series of questions. They usually start by asking if consumers recognize an ad and know which company is behind it. Then they may ask some additional questions to gauge response to the advertisement.


The results of an ad tracking survey will be written up and submitted to the clients. Clients can evaluate for areas of concern such as whether people are offended by an ad, and how many people can accurately identify the product or service in an ad. If the tracking indicates poor results, analysts can probe into survey responses to find out what the problem is. A company may need to flash its name at the end of an ad, for example, or might need to consider buying spots in different markets to blanket the target demographic more effectively.

Working in ad tracking requires a knowledge of advertising, psychology, and statistics. People who work in this field must be able to design surveys, deliver them to the right populations to get accurate results, and interpret those results to assist their clients. Some analysts work independently, while others may provide services to a large ad tracking firm. It can help to have a college degree in advertising or a related field, and professional membership in an organization dedicated to ad tracking and monitoring ad performance is also advised.



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