Calculating Marketing ROI Vs. ROAS: What’s the Difference?

Digital marketers pay close attention to over 40 popular marketing metrics, most of which are considered “soft” and play a role in their marketing strategy without directly reflecting campaign effectiveness. These soft advertising metrics include CTR (click-through rate) and CPC (Cost-per-click), among others.

However, business owners are more concerned with “hard” advertising metrics that relate to revenue and business growth. The main “hard” metrics are ROI (Return on Investment) and ROAS (Return on Advertising Spend).

But what is the difference between ROI and ROAS? How do you calculate these advertising performance metrics, which ones should you track, and who comes out on top in the ROAS vs ROI battle? 

You will find the answers to these questions and more regarding marketing ROI and ROAS in this article. So, let’s get started!

What Is Marketing ROI and Why Is It Important?

Marketing Return on Investment (ROI) involves measuring the impact of marketing activities on profit and revenue growth. By evaluating the return on marketing investment, businesses can determine how much marketing efforts contribute to revenue growth, both as a whole and for specific campaigns. Marketing ROI is commonly used to justify marketing expenses and helps in deciding how to allocate budgets for current and future campaigns and initiatives.

Before starting any marketing campaign, it is important to understand your metrics. According to research, marketers who regularly calculate their Return on Investment (ROI) are 1.6 times more likely to receive increased budgets for their marketing initiatives. 

Although the rates may not be exact at first, having benchmarks will help you set a goal for measuring the success of your campaign. Modern marketing goes beyond just generating traffic and involves complex strategies across digital and traditional platforms.

To make informed decisions about resource allocation, you need to know the ROI associated with each strategy. Having a clear understanding of your marketing expenses allows you to make strategic choices that contribute to generating revenue and improving the profitability of your business.

What Is Marketing ROAS and Why Is It Important?

The Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) is a metric used for evaluating the success of advertising and marketing efforts. It quantifies the ability of campaigns to generate sales and conversions from expenditures. For businesses, ROAS is an important metric in determining the impact of their campaign spending, showing whether the money they invest in these efforts translates into meaningful results.

ROAS is important because it helps answer the basic question of whether your app marketing efforts are producing positive results. It plays a crucial role in determining how to allocate your budget and scale your strategies. For example, if a campaign brings in valuable users who generate significant revenue for your app, the expenses outweigh the profits from those users. The campaign cannot be considered successful. This is where ROAS becomes crucial, as it helps you evaluate the effectiveness of your app marketing endeavors and make informed decisions on resource allocation and scaling back.

The Difference Between ROI and ROAS

When we compare ROI and ROAS, there are noticeable differences. The main distinction is that ROI evaluates the total return on the entire investment, whereas ROAS measures the return for a specific ad campaign. Essentially, ROI gives a comprehensive perspective as a metric, while ROAS is a measure designed specifically to assess the success of an individual advertising campaign.

advertising metrics

While both of the metrics point to your revenue, ROI shows what you ultimately receive after covering your expenses. Expenses include marketing software subscription costs, marketing team member salaries, rewards, agency fees, etc.

In digital marketing, ROAS only shows how much you receive back for every advertising dollar you spend. Only affiliate and transaction fees might be included in your spending.

As other marketing costs aren’t included, it’s natural that ROAS will almost always be higher than ROI on ad spend.

No matter what ROI or ROAS calculator you use, none of these advertising metrics is better or more precise than the other. However, it’s sometimes recommended that service-based businesses focus more on ROAS, while product-based businesses focus on ROI.


Product-based businesses (read: eCommerce), usually have higher production costs than agencies, software companies, consulting firms, etc. Online stores have to cover not only marketing software subscription costs/salaries but also the original price, maybe shipping costs, etc.

So without learning how to calculate advertising ROI correctly, you’ll never know how much you earned or whether you earned at all.

Service-based businesses sell digital products and almost no dollar is spent on producing physical goods, logistics, packaging, or shipping.

That’s why the ROAS digital marketing metrics will reflect the effectiveness of your campaign correctly and you won’t face unpleasant surprises after subtracting your marketing expenses.

ROI vs ROAS Table

Let’s refer to the table below for a summary of the main differences between ROI and ROAS:

                       ROI                     ROAS
Calculates the overall return on investment Calculates the return of a specific ad campaign
Takes into consideration profit Takes into consideration revenue
Considers direct spending and expenditures Considers merely direct spending
Helps to determine the profitability of your paid ad for your company Doesn’t determine the profitability of the paid ad for your company

How To Calculate Marketing ROI and ROAS?

Now that you know what ROI and ROAS are and how they differ from each other, it’s time to calculate these two internet advertising metrics – ROI vs ROAS the right way.

How To Calculate ROI?

how to calculate marketing roi

When you want to calculate internet advertising ROI in marketing, you should use the following formula: (Revenue – Cost) / Cost

For example, if you spend 2000$ on your campaigns and receive $5500 in return, your ROI equals 1.75. It means that for every 1 dollar spent you receive 1.75 dollars in return (175% more).

All your marketing costs, including paid and organic, marketing team salaries, rewards, affiliate fees should be included in that $2000. Administrative costs such as office rent, bills, etc shouldn’t be regarded as marketing costs.

As you can see, after subtracting your expenses you have 175% profit.

How To Calculate ROAS?

How to find ROAS for your ad campaign? ROAS is calculated a bit differently: Revenue / Costs.

For example, let’s say you invested $10 in your ad campaign and received $17 back. Your ROAS = 17/10 = 1.7. It means that for every dollar you spent, you received 1.7 dollars back.

At first sight, it may sound attractive.

170%+ more revenue generated! However, here you don’t consider other expenses such as production costs, packaging, agency fees, etc.

If you subtract that number from your ROAS, you might understand that you have barely broken even.

While choosing between this or that advertising metric, consider your business type and side expenses you have. If investing in an ad campaign is your only (or only major) investment, go for that metric.

You already know how to measure marketing ROI and ROAS, what ROI and ROAS formulas to use, and how they are different. Let’s move to the final section and recap.

How much ROAS is good, average, and bad?

advertising performance metrics

It may sound surprising but even when you receive 3 times your investment, you might still not be making any profits.

So if you want your ad campaign to be really successful, you should aim for at least 300% ROAS, aka 3 dollars for every 1 dollar you spend.

Any percent below 300% probably won’t allow you to cover even your marketing/design expenses.

Any percent above 399% is considered to be inspiring. It means you generate more than $3.99 for every 1 dollar spent.

If you manage to pass the 799% threshold, you are doing well at running your paid ads.

To keep your numbers correct, make sure you calculate them at the right level and for the right period.

For example, you might be running multiple eCommerce ad groups in ad campaigns with multiple ad versions. The average ROAS for eCommerce ads for each level will be different. So be attentive to avoid confusion.

The same goes for the ad dates. Your ROAS will again differ based on what time range you choose.

Note: There may be industries and businesses for which a 300%- ROAS will be totally ok and even ensure the targeted revenue.

What is a good ROAS for eCommerce or technology? Unfortunately, we don’t have stats on how the average ROAS is for this or that industry, but we have some other numbers to share with you.

  • The average CPC (cost-per-click) is $1.16 for eCommerce, $3.33 for the B2B, and $3.80 for technology companies (source).
  • The average CTR (click-through-rate) is 2.69% for eCommerce, 2.41% for B2B, and 2.09% for technology companies (source).

Depending on which industry you operate in, we will research the related stats and set achievable, realistic goals for your ad campaigns.

Calculate your advertising metrics and KPIs with the Andava team

Google Analytics is a free tool that will help you calculate your spending and revenue. Go to the Reports section →  Acquisition →  Campaigns →  Cost analysis.

Another section that will be helpful is Reports → Conversions → Attribution → ROI analysis.

If you have trouble setting up your Google Analytics or calculating your advertising ROI metrics, contact the Andava team. You are only a free audit away from optimizing your campaigns, decreasing your ad costs, and receiving net profit from your investment.

So, now is the time to enhance your performance, optimize your campaigns, and experience unmatched success with our customized solutions.

 Give our services a try today and transform your approach to ads analytics.

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