Measuring Brand Lift

Anjali McKenzie, Former UX Researcher

Article Category: #Strategy

Posted on

In a nutshell, brand lift is an increase in interaction with a brand as a result of an advertising campaign, and is primarily used to identify a positive shift in customer awareness and perception. Brand lift metrics typically include: awareness (of the brand, product, or offering), attitude (opinion on quality, value and appeal), recall (ability to remember), favorability (likelihood to recommend), and intent (likelihood to purchase)--all of which can be a challenge to measure. 

In doing some research, we've found what we believe to be three effective ways to measure brand lift for online campaigns: primary research, quantitative metrics, and social buzz. Depending on the brand campaign, only some of these may apply. However, the best approach typically incorporates a combination of measurements.

Primary Market Research

Primary market research includes information gathered from sources such as field and online surveys, one-on-one interviews, and focus groups. The two most often sought-after items when it comes to primary research on brand lift are information about brand awareness/recognition, brand recall, brand favorability, and purchase intent.

When it comes to gathering feedback about brand lift for online campaigns, specifically AdWords text or display PPC campaigns and YouTube video campaigns, an easy way to measure brand lift is with Google Consumer Surveys. These surveys leverage Google's network of partner sites to show your survey questions. Questions get embedded directly into content and users answer questions in exchange for access to that content as an alternative to subscribing or upgrading.

Google Consumer Surveys allow you to:

  • Quickly create a survey using a variety of different standard question types
  • Select a target audience: either a representative sample of the US population or your own target audience using demographic parameters or a screening question
  • Receive answers in as little as 24 hours
  • View aggregated data via an interactive online interface

Pricing: 10¢ per complete for one question;  $1.10 – $3.50 per complete for 2 to 10 questions

Another option for a quick and inexpensive way to gauge your own customers’ feedback to an ad or campaign is social polling. Facebook, for example, offers an Opinion Polls feature that allows brands to engage with fans and quickly get answers to specific questions. Alternatively, you can ask questions more informally via social networks such as Twitter or LinkedIn.

If you're looking to do more advanced online surveying, other, more robust tools are available such as Vizu or ComScore.

Quantitative Metrics

Identify the specific online outcomes and associated measurable metrics that make up "brand lift". Measure these metrics before and after the brand campaign runs to identify any change. It’s critical to assign key metrics before running a campaign in order to be able to successfully measure brand lift.

The brand lift outcomes can include all or some of the following:

  • Attracting new followers/likes on branded social media channels - my brand campaign will increase awareness and therefore drive more followers on my social media channels.
    Ideal metric for this desired outcome: increase in Facebook likes and Twitter followers.
  • Gaining share of voice among competitors - my brand campaign will show how awesome my brand value is and increase my online fame.
    Ideal metric for this desired outcome: increase in share of search. To measure this you can use a tool such as Compete, and get reports for specific keywords.
  • Becoming top of mind for online searches - my brand campaign will show how awesome my company is, and whenever people are looking for a particular product, they will think of my brand.
    Ideal metric for this desired outcome: search intentions. Search is used by the majority of the world to seek out information online. You can use a tool such as Google Trends (formerly Insights for Search) to identify Top Searches and Rising Searches for an individual or set of terms. (The latter is especially important because it brings to light those terms that have risen in popularity with statistical significance, which may be a result of your brand campaign.)
  • Attracting new visitors or customers - my brand campaign will increase awareness and therefore drive more visitors/customers to my site.
    Ideal metric for this desired outcome: the change in the percentage of new visits to your website (look specifically at the visits who come by clicking on your campaign). This may be even more valuable if you tie a unique landing page to a brand campaign.
  • Increasing repeat customers - my brand campaign will keep my brand top of mind for existing customers and improve recall and purchase intent, encouraging them to return to my site.
    Ideal metric for this desired outcome: the frequency of visits since the campaign was launched (look specifically at the visits who come by clicking on your campaign). This may be even more valuable if you tie a unique landing page to a brand campaign.

Social Buzz

Brand/social buzz is another valid measurement of a branding campaign. It allows you to see the overall impact of an ad or brand campaign, specific social responses, and any change in brand sentiment (whether positive or negative) that results from that campaign.

There are many tools available to monitor what impact your campaign may have on your brand in the social sphere, such as:

  • Brandwatch ($) - A service that reads through and summarizes what’s being said on the Web about brands, people, and products. Define keywords to track (brands, topics, people names, products) and get access to mentions, trend and campaign analysis, and competitive info.
  • Netvibes (Free & $) - A platform that tracks clients, customers, competitors, and your reputation across media sources, analyzes live results with 3rd party reporting tools, and provides media monitoring dashboards for brand clients.
  • Radian6 ($) - A platform that identifies and analyzes conversations about your company, products and competitors with leading social media monitoring and engagement tools.
  • Sysomos ($) - A real-time monitoring dashboard that collects relevant online conversations about your brand and provides insights with detailed metrics and graphics.
  • Social Mention (Free) - A real-time social media search and analysis platform that aggregates user-generated content from Twitter, Facebook, FriendFeed, YouTube, Digg, Google,  etc. into a single stream.

You can find a more complete list of social media monitoring and management tools here.


Shoutout to the following sources, which were a big help in compiling the info for this post: Google's Inside AdWords BlogSocial Media TodayOccam's Razor by Avinash Kaushik.

Have other ideas, methods, or tools that you use to measure brand lift? If so, please share!

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