That’s right I said it, the fact is View-Through Conversions in Google AdWords are nothing more than an agencies way of saying “we can’t track all sales, so we will add this script to make it look like we are doing so much more”.
This is the definition according to Google Support: “A View-through Conversion happens when a customer sees an image or rich media ad, then later completes a conversion on your site. This is different from a Click-through Conversion, which happens when a customer had previously clicked on an ad (such as on the Google Search or the Google Display Network) and then completed a conversion on your site.”
The way it reads to me is that if you spend a bunch of money on Display eventually someone who was server your ad will buy something from you, or complete a conversion of some type. Just because someone was served a display ad on Forbes.com and ended up converting on your cart as a View-Through conversion does not mean that banner ad had a single thing to do with it. It just means that the person at one point was on a page that had your banner and made a purchase.
The first time I had been exposed to the downside of view-through conversions was when an agency was trying to get their foot on the door at a place I was employed with. Because I was already deeply entrenched in the SEM world to begin with, I knew they were promoting it to other in my organization as an untapped resource for revenue generation. There is nothing wrong with view-through conversions for getting a gut check as to the amount of traffic converting that have at the very MOST been served the banner on your site.
The problem is in the interpretation of what a view-through conversion means. Some might see the data and say “holy cow, we have a lot of view-through conversions on forbes.com, let’s throw more money in to the display network”. And be disappointed and in hot water when the sales or leads, or whatever the conversion type is simply does not happen.
So let’s examine the Google definition a little closer: ““A View-through Conversion happens when a customer sees an image or rich media ad, then later completes a conversion on your site.”
How does Google know what the visitor can see? The fact is they can’t and this definition in the way it was written is actually an assumption, not a fact. I am sure the person who wrote this did not intend for the grey area, but regardless it is there.
A word to the wise with regards to View-through Conversions, make sure before you plan your budgets or talk to an agency, know what it is, and how it works because some people will try to get you to bite on it