What To Watch Out For When Buying Online Media

by on March 28, 2011

Whenever we’re asked to create a campaign to attract the ‘right’ type of visitor, we’ll normally concentrate most of our attention to building an great PPC campaign.

Why? Because you’re harnessing that demand that already exists for a product or service rather than displaying banners to people who may just fit your demographic.

That said, we did recently purchase 400,000 impressions from a site that perfectly matched the campaign we were doing for a charity. The site was pefect for the demographic and the price was right

I’m not going to name the site we bought the banners from for commercial and legal reasons, but two things really stood out

1) Lack of Knowledge about Google Analytics
When we first asked them to append a set of Google Analytics campaign tags to the banners and an advert being run in their newsletter,

  • First, the saleslady confessed she didn’t know what we were talking about
  • Second, told us point blankly that she had spoken to their technical person and it wouldn’t be possible as “we would then have access to all their data”
  • Third, after we had to give them a crash course in Google Analytics they then told us it was too late to tag the newsletter

5 years ago when Google Analytics launched, this lack of knowledge would have been understandable, but for an publisher to hiring staff who don’t understand the most popular analytics tool seems inexcusable

What perhaps more worrying is that apparently we were the first people to have asked. Surely the other advertisers weren’t relying on just the publishers stats

2) Double Counting Visits
When we booked the advert in their newsletter, we made the assumption that when someone clicked on the link, they would go directly to our clients site.

While assumptions are a bad thing, it never crossed our mind, the newsletter link would go back to the publishers site as this simply isn’t standard practice.

What was happening was

  1. The newsletter recipient would click on the link in the newsletter
  2. The publisher counts this as a click
  3. The visitor then arrives on the site and clicks on either a banner or a link in the advertorial
  4. The publisher also counts this as a click

When we asked them to dedupe the results, again we were greeted with more blank faces

What’s the lesson from this?

1. If a publisher can’t tag your banners with some standard Google Analytics code, you need to question their technical competency

2. Always check exactly what you’re going get – never assume


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