Tuesday, October 23, 2007

How Many Users Saw Your Ad?

If you were placing an advert you would want to monitor the number of people who saw it and if possible the resultant conversion rate and frequency of spend is achieved. In a direct marketing environment its about conversion and frequency rate and ensuring that the money is spent well, in the advertising mass market it is about ensuring the audience target has been reached and monitoring that the message has been received. So one would think that on the internet life becomes a whole lot easier and precise figures can be collated for each view and where appropriate each conversion.

Anyone who has placed adverts on the web will know that auditing ‘hits’, conversion, individuals and returns can often be as difficult as herding cats. We often find two camps page views versus pay-per-click. The later is basically payment based not on merely viewing the page but on clicking on the ad. This still doesn’t mean the user actually converted just that he clicked through. However, in the advertising world which is expected to more than double the $9.6 billion it represented as recently as 2004 and generate some $20 billion in revenue this year, its more about views than action.

So how many visitors did you receive today? Your web analyst will say one figure but the advertising measurement services such as ComScore and Nielson/Net Ratings a much lower one. Who is right and who is wrong? In the world of advertising the figures mean money! There are a myriad of reasons for the differences. Then there are issues regarding the number of times that advertisements appear on the web site and we have seen the recent purchase by Microsoft and Google of companies such as Atlas and DoubleClick who specialise in tracking this. There are also issues about tracking individuals who may masked behind a corporate or institutional gateway.

The wider adoption of Web analytics, as a discipline, may hold the answers in the web 2.0 world. This technology has evolved and the latest ‘page tagging’, is aimed at capturing business metrics such as the unique user, the visit, and the page view. However, until everyone counts the same way the true potential of Internet advertising may not be fully realised.