What is Return on Ad Spend (ROAS)?

Marketing Data
Productivity tips
May 8, 2024


In one of the previous blogs we discussed whether it would benefit your business more to go for a Search Ad campaign or Display Ad campaign. But how do you quantify these benefits and make sound decisions from them - well, introducing ROAS.

Well, yes you guessed it right (or yes, glad you checked the blog heading) ROAS stand for the Return on Ad Spend, to the uninformed, it is exactly what it sounds like. The return you get on your Ad campaign investment - whether in terms of followers, sales, leads, or whatever the campaign intended to generate.

Let’s get to know ROAS better together. 

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The Definition of ROAS

Return on Ad Spend, simply put, is a metric that serves to calculate the efficiency of digital advertising campaigns. It helps marketers understand the impact of an ad campaign in terms of financial return. Essentially, ROAS measures the revenue earned per dollar spent on advertising.

When you ponder the question, "What is a good return on ad spend?", the answer can fluctuate based on individual business and industry benchmarks. However, a higher ROAS is generally more desirable, indicating a higher return on every dollar spent.

How to Calculate Return on Ad Spend (ROAS)

The ROAS formula is straightforward: divide the revenue derived from the ad campaign by the cost of that ad campaign. In its simplest form:

ROAS = (Revenue from Ad Campaign) / (Cost of Ad Campaign)

This formula provides a ratio that represents the amount of revenue generated for every dollar spent on advertising.

What is the Difference Between ROAS and ROI?

When it comes to evaluating results from marketing efforts, the terminologies ROAS (Return on Ad Spend) and ROI (Return on Investment) often surface, leading to an ongoing ROAS vs ROI debate. While they may sound similar, these metrics serve different purposes and provide insights into different facets of your business acivities.

ROI is a performance measure used to evaluate the efficiency of a particular investment. In the context of marketing, ROI encapsulates the profitability resulting from all types of marketing investments, not restricted solely to advertising but also including costs like manufacturing, logistics, and overheads. When you think about ROI, consider it as a broad indicator of overall profitability, capable of answering questions like, "What is the total return, considering all costs on production, operation, and marketing?"

On the other hand, ROAS is a more focused parameter that evaluates the profitability of specific ad campaigns. As the name suggests, it measures the return on ad spend. With the help of the ROAS formula (Revenue from Ad Campaign / Cost of Ad Campaign), businesses can find the revenue generated for each dollar they've invested into an ad campaign.

In other words, the ROAS meaning can be distilled to displaying the effectiveness and financial success of individual advertising strategies. It provides granular, tactical insights to marketers wishing to evaluate the profitability of specific campaigns or channels, helping to make informed, data-driven decisions on where ad dollars should be spent.

Should I Use ROI or ROAS?

Choosing between ROI and ROAS largely hinges upon the scope of your evaluation and what specific insights you're aiming to extract.

Let's say you're performing an in-depth analysis of business profitability. For such a broader-view analysis that includes various cost factors (inventory, manufacturing, overheads, etc.) as well as marketing expenditures, ROI would be your go-to metric.

Conversely, if your goal is to gauge the profitability of specific ad campaigns and derive actionable insights to optimize your ad strategies, ROAS becomes an invaluable tool. With its specific focus on ad spend, and tangible outputs from the ROAS formula, it paints a clear picture of how effectively your advertising dollars are working for you.

To sum it up, both ROAS and ROI have their places in a marketer's toolbox. By understanding ROAS meaning and comparing ROAS vs ROI, businesses can glean a more comprehensive understanding of their marketing success at both macro and micro levels. Use these valuable tools wisely, and watch your marketing efforts deliver optimum returns.

Why ROAS is superior to CPA

Wonderding what changes from one metric to another, well not all conversions are created equal. It is upto you to choose one over the other, depending on what you’re trying to achieve with your campaign. One of the primary advantages of ROAS over CPA is that ROAS focuses on the revenue generated from advertising spend, not just the cost of acquiring a new customer or conversion.

CPA provides insight into how much it costs to acquire a customer through a specific campaign. However, it does not account for the value or revenue that customer brings to the business.

ROAS, by offering a clear picture of the financial return on advertising investments, allows marketers to directly correlate ad spend with revenue outcomes. In essence, ROAS's revenue-based perspective offers a richer, more actionable insight for marketers aiming to optimize advertising for growth and profitability, marking its advantage over the cost-focused CPA metric.

Wondering how to go about it?

Now that you have a lowdown of what ROAS are, it is only helpful to understand how’d you use them. Well here are a few things to focus on - 

Comprehend ROAS: Familiarize yourself with the ROAS metric, understand its limitations, and recognize an optimal ROAS. For instance, a 4:1 ratio ($4 revenue per $1 ad spend) often denotes profitability. Values below $3 may signal a need for strategy revision.

Establish a Target: To maximize your ad revenue, set a ROAS target corresponding to your company's size and profit margins. For smaller companies, a target between $4 and $5 would be beneficial, while larger entities could aim for a $3 to $4 ratio.

Include Additional Metrics: Complement ROAS with additional metrics like contribution margin, development costs, payroll, production costs, and distribution expenses for comprehensive profitability evaluation.

Implement Improvement Strategies: Focus on improving ROAS by reducing ad costs, boosting revenue, or a combination of both. Consider techniques like product listing ads and Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) to draw more traffic and increase sales without significantly increasing ad expenditures. Optimize landing pages, feature related product ads, and send cart completion reminders to boost profitability.

Trust the process

Mastering the Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) is not just about crunching numbers; it's a strategic approach to maximizing your marketing efforts and ensuring they contribute positively to your bottom line. By thoroughly understanding what ROAS signifies, setting realistic yet ambitious targets, and complementing it with a broad spectrum of financial metrics, businesses can pave the way for informed decisions and sustainable growth.

Moreover, the commitment to continually refining your advertising strategies—whether through cost management, revenue enhancement, or tapping into innovative ad platforms—will be pivotal in navigating the competitive landscape. Arm yourself with these insights and strategies, and watch as your ROAS not only reflects the effectiveness of your current campaigns but also drives your marketing department towards greater profitability and success.

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Jacopo Proietti

Co-founder @Dokin
Jacopo, a co-founder of Dokin, boasts 8 years in finance, having worked as a finance manager at Ogury and head of Financial Planning and Control at BlaBlaCar.
His passion for data integration led to the creation of Dokin, a game-changer for modern business teams. With customizable templates and built-in data connections, Dokin allows modern CMOs and CFOs to streamlines data reporting across Google Workspace applications.

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