The definitive guide to Outcomes Lift

Outcomes lift measurement helps brands optimize how advertising impacts the middle to end of the customer journey, on every site, without relying on outdated cookie and mobile ID technology.

Using fully permissioned and passively provided behavioral data directly from consumers’ own devices, brand marketers can uncover how their ads influence consumer actions related to their brand, the category and the competition.

What you will learn:

  1. What is outcomes measurement?
  2. What outcomes can be measured?
  3. How do you know who has seen an ad?
  4. How do you know the impact of the ad?
  5. How is outcomes lift different from conversion tracking?
  6. How does outcomes lift compare to brand lift?
  7. What does outcomes lift tell us about a consumer’s path-to-purchase?
  8. How can I use outcomes lift in my organization?
  9. How does DISQO approach outcomes lift?


What is outcomes lift measurement?

Outcomes lift is a powerful incremental attribution metric to unite strategic and tactical insights on how campaigns impact the middle of your customer journey, on every site, without relying on outdated cookie and mobile ID technology.


What outcomes can be measured?

Outcomes measurement focuses on quantifying the online actions consumers take after being exposed to an advertisement.

These actions may include:

  • Product searches
  • Category searches
  • Visits to relevant product review and recommendation sites
  • Visits to the advertiser’s website
  • Visits to the websites of competitors
  • Product purchases from the advertiser’s website
  • Product purchases third-party ecommerce sites


How do you know who has seen an ad?

Understanding which consumers have been exposed to an advertisement is fundamental to the measurement of advertising effectiveness. It is also a task that has become increasingly complicated in the face of concerns about consumer privacy and the waning utility of third-party cookies.

In digital advertising, ad servers distribute ads to online publishers to display on the sites and platforms. These ads can carry a tracking cookie which allows a measurement provider to see who has been exposed to the ad. However, these tracking cookies from measurement firms and tech vendors do not capture everyone who has been exposed to an ad because:

  • Some browsers block the acceptance of cookies by default,
  • Some people chose to block the acceptance of cookies, and
  • Some publishers do not allow tracking cookies on their sites.

The difficulty of using cookies to track advertising has increased with concerns about consumer privacy, how such data is being used, and who is collecting the data. Without complete measurement of who has seen an ad, outcomes lift becomes difficult to assess.

An alternative approach to know who has been exposed to an ad is to incentivize consumers to install apps on their computer or phone which measures whether that person has been exposed to the ad. In order for consumers to install apps such as this, they must be provided information about who is collecting this data, what the app does, as well as be given value in exchange for allowing this measurement.

How do you know the impact of the ad?

Establishing a proper accounting of people who have been exposed to an ad lays the groundwork for exploring the impact created by an advertising campaign. Not everyone who sees an is impacted by the ad and some consumer activities, such as purchasing a brand’s product, would have happened with or without exposure to an ad.

To properly assess the impact of an ad, two samples of the consumer population are created:

  1. A test group of consumers who who were exposed to the advertising campaign, and
  2. A control group of consumers who were not exposed to the advertising campaign.

Comparing the behaviors of these two groups makes it possible to understand how exposure to the ad campaign impacted behavior. In order for this comparison to be accurate, it is important that both the exposed and unexposed groups share similar characteristics, such as their demographic attributes.

The difference in post ad exposure activity between the two groups is called the “lift.”

How is outcomes lift different from conversion tracking?

Website analytics software can provide a brand with some metrics on the impact of their advertising and this is generally referred to as “conversion tracking.” Depending on the tools used by a brand and their goals, conversions might be focused actions after exposure to an ad that include visits to their site or a specific activity such as watching a video or making a purchase.

While this conversion tracking information can be quite useful, it represents only a portion of a consumer’s journey and is limited to actions that take place on a brand’s own site. For example, while a brand will have visibility into a purchase made directly from their own site, conversion tracking won’t connect ad exposure with a purchase made from a separate ecommerce site. Likewise, all of the various activities consumers engage in while on the path-to-purchase before they visit a brand’s site are out of bounds for conversion tracking, but core to what outcomes lift measurement offers.

purple and orange bar graphs showing outcomes lift.

In addition, conversion tracking does not show the “lift” generated by the ads, only the raw number of people who saw the ads and had the action. People who would have completed the action anyways are included in conversions, even if the advertising actually did not influence them to take action. By looking at lift, brands can properly attribute the results to advertising, often called in the industry, attribution.

Because outcomes lift works across mobile, display, video, social, e-commerce and CTV, and delivers results in-flight at a granular level such as by publisher and creative, it can be considered a form of multi-touch attribution (MTA) but is quite different from traditional MTA that relies on modeled data and/or cookies.

How does outcomes lift compare to brand lift?

Outcomes lift and brand lift are both sets of metrics that describe the impact of exposure to an advertisement on consumers. While outcomes lift focuses on measuring an ad’s impact on the online behavior of consumers exposed to an ad campaign, brand lift focuses on measuring how exposure to an ad impacts consumer attitudes and opinions of a brand.

Used together they can create a powerful and comprehensive assessment of advertising impact and effectiveness. Brand lift measurement helps a brand understand whether or not their ad campaign is delivering the desired messages to consumers and having a positive impact on the way a brand is perceived. Outcomes lift measurement helps brands understand what kind of consumer behaviors are driven by their advertising.

What does outcomes lift tell us about a consumer’s path-to-purchase?

To see Outcomes Lift in action, let’s consider the path-to-purchase for a consumer exposed to an advertising campaign for a luggage brand in their social media feed on their mobile device. This consumer, who’s been idly thinking “it’s time to buy a new suitcase” visits the luggage retailer’s website. Because it’s an expensive purchase they search for “best suitcases'' and go down a rabbit hole of review sites and recommendations.

The consumer visits the sites of competing retailers and returns again to search the web with a refined sense of what they want (and lots of targeted ads appear now to woo them). After sleeping on it, they buy the suitcase in the original ad from a major e-commerce site.

Most of what happened on this journey between seeing the initial ad and purchasing a new piece of luggage would be invisible without measuring outcomes lift. The brand’s website analytics will track visits to its own site but the brand would likely be unable to understand how that visitation related to ad exposure in a siloed social media. The consumer’s use of search, visitation to review sites and consideration of competing products would be completely opaque. And the ultimate success of the campaign in this example, with a purchase made on a third-party e-commerce, site would be untraceable.

How can I use outcomes lift in my organization?

Measuring outcomes lift provides concrete, actionable insights for brands that would otherwise be unobtainable.

For too long, brands have had a constrained understanding of the impact of their ad investment to the media optimization team. With outcomes lift, insights move beyond media optimization to truly strategic decision making throughout the organization.

A brand learns to answer questions valuable to the entire organization such as “did my ad campaign…”

    • Creative & Content Development: Generate interest through search and site visits to my category but not my brand indicating my message was not strong enough?
    • Competitive Intelligence: Prompt searches or visits to my competitors, showcasing threats?
    • eCommerce: Lead to purchases on third party ecommerce sites, such as Amazon or Walmart that I don’t know about?

The answers to these questions, especially when combined with brand lift metrics, lead to improved assessment of a brand’s ad investment and clear benchmarks for future planning.

How does DISQO approach outcomes lift?

By leveraging the DISQO CX Intelligence platform, built with fully consented, 100% opt-in person-level behavioral data, you can gain a deeper understanding of how ad campaigns impact consumer behaviors that are critical for your customer journey. This platform uniquely enables DISQO to:

    1. deliver actionable insights at the creative and placement level for proper attribution of ad impact
    2. collect ad exposure without relying on cookies
    3. see ads in siloed social platforms, without needing the platforms to provide the insights themselves
    4. measure outcomes from display, video, mobile and CTV/OTT advertising
    5. see the impact of advertising on sites not owned by the brand such as in search, on review sites and all major e-commerce platforms

With DISQO’s Outcomes Lift, marketers get visibility into the incremental digital outcomes caused by advertising, and finally have a total view of their campaign performance. Whether it’s search for your brand, a visit to a review site, or even a visit to a competitor site, DISQO will uncover how your ads are generating increased value for your brand on all digital platforms including CTV, online video, display, social, and e-commerce.

“We’re impressed by DISQO’s holistic approach to performance attribution via their Outcomes Lift product. The ability to combine outcomes and sentiment in a cross-platform and agnostic approach holds tremendous promise for helping us to better serve modern consumers with the experiences they expect across their full journey.” -Garrett Celestin, Senior Manager Consumer Insights, GoodRx.

For a more extended explanation of DISQO’s Outcomes Lift including data from actual measured campaigns, download Demystifying Mid-Funnel Ad Impact to understand how Outcomes Lift exposes the power of advertising to drive consumers on the path-to-purchase.

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