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What is ROAS and how to calculate it? Wad of cash.

What is ROAS and How to Calculate It?

What is ROAS?

The definition of ROAS is ‘return on advertising spend’. It refers to the income gained as a result of any advertising expenditure, such as new customers or sales generated through a specific campaign. If you’re running a PPC campaign you’ll be able to see the return, or at least the clicks or purchases, in your dashboard.

Your ROAS can be applied to your entire marketing and advertising budget, or can be applied to specific campaigns. For example, if you’re running a PPC advertising campaign, a print publication campaign and a direct marketing campaign, you might want to see how much your investment returns overall.

How to calculate your ROAS

Your return on advertising spend is worked out by dividing the revenue generated by the advertising spend. So for example, if you spent $1,000 but made $10,000, your return on ad spend formula would look like this:

10,000 (revenue) / 1,000 (ad spend) = $10 (ROAS)

What this means is that for every $1 you spend on advertising, you make back $10. This is expressed as 10:1, or $10 for each $1 spent.

When should you use ROAS?

Combining your ROAS monitoring with cost per lead or cost per acquisition (CPA) will give you a good overview of the effectiveness of your advertising spend. If you’re finding your CPA is high and your ROAS is low then this implies that you might need to change your marketing strategy. However,if you’re seeing a high return on ad spend for low CPA then this might indicate that what you’re doing is working and you could focus more effort and funds on that specific channel.

Monitoring your return on ad spend can be done at any time during or after an advertising campaign. By checking your ROAS during a campaign you’ll be able to check if anything needs adjusting and even stopping an ineffective ad campaign.

How to keep track of your ROAS

Your return on ad spend will likely change throughout any advertising campaign, especially those run over an extended period. For example, if you’re running a promotion in the run up to Christmas or Black Friday, you might find a surge in sales towards the big day. Keeping a regular tally of your ad spend versus revenue generated is the best way to monitor and track your ROAS.

Depending on the length and cost of your ad campaign, you might wish to track it anything from daily to weekly. Simply log your ROAS when you need and keep tabs on the direction it’s going.

How to optimise your ROAS

For an e-commerce site or online store, optimising your return on ad spend can involve several aspects. Depending on your area, your market and your product, in general if you’re looking to improve your ROAS, try some of these approaches.

Target successful search terms in your PPC: Get rid of expensive or underperforming keywords that could be sapping your advertising spend. You might also find that there are keywords with high volume clicks but lower conversions.

Improve your geo-targeting: Target specific geographic areas that are proven to be successful markets. This will avoid spending unnecessary marketing funds on an audience with little potential to convert.

Optimise your landing pages: Make it easy for your clients and customers to find what they’re looking for and to checkout. If people don’t instantly see what they’re looking for they’ll leave your site, but you’ll still pay for the click!

Use click fraud detection software: If you’re targeting very competitive or high value search terms then you might find that your ad campaigns are subject to ad fraud or click fraud. By some estimates, around half of all internet traffic is automated or fraudulent, so by using software you can avoid spending money on budget sapping bots.

What is considered a good ROAS?

There is no definitive answer to what makes a good return on ad spend, but in general, so long as you’re making more back than you’re spending on advertising then you’re on the right path. High value services and products might find they need to be making 10:1, but a general supplies e-commerce store might be happy with 4:1 or even 2:1.

As an example, if you’re selling cars at $15,000 per unit, and your net profit per sale is around $2,000, you might be happy with spending $500 to sell one car, a ROAS of 4:1. This of course leaves you with $1,500 per sale which then needs to cover your taxes, premises and other overheads. The question then comes down to how many cars do you need to sell a month to make this ROAS worthwhile? And does spending $10,000 mean that you will likely make car 20 sales?

Your ROAS is part of your general budget, so in general if your overheads aren’t excessive then 4 or 5:1 is a decent return. Take a look at what you expect to make for each unit spent on advertising to understand your ideal return on advertising spend.


Your return on ad spend is a crucial metric when understanding the success of your business. By keeping a track of your ROAS and tweaking or optimising your PPC ad campaigns you’ll be able to maximise your marketing returns.

Being sure that your ad spend is being spent on marketing to your potential customers, and not on fraudulent traffic, is another good way to maximise your ROAS. For some businesses, the amount spent on click fraud or ad fraud can be quite a surprise. By using tools to minimise the exposure to this kind of fraud, you could see a healthy ROAS.


Since working for ClickCease, Oli has become something of a click fraud nerd, and now bores people at parties with facts about click farms and internet traffic stats. When not writing about ad fraud, he helps companies to optimise their marketing content and strategy with his own content marketing business.

1 comment

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  • I would like to know what is good ROAS in my sector. You wrote, that 2:1 or 4:1 is good ROAS. But it depends on sector. There is difference between healthcare and financial institutions. Do you have some table of sectors and average ROAS?

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