Dueling Banjos: Reconciling Uniques from Advertising to Site Metrics

For firms and folks that are dependent on site metrics tools (Omniture, Coremetrics, Google Analytics, WebTrends) to validate or measure the impact on a site from online advertising (take your pick of agency ad servers), Andy Greenberg’s recent article about Omniture may be of interest.

Andy’s point about the site metrics application being used to gauge the effectiveness of online advertising raises some serious marketing questions. I’ve personally been working on this on and off myself going back to the Web 1.0 days. Our boutique digital agency Streams Online Media Development’s developed the seminal online marketing tracking tool Lilypad to some industry fanfare. Reconciling these numbers today reminds me of the old Dueling Banjos tune.

Clearly, each tool bring their own technical process for counting and what is important to emphasize. Like how guitars and banjos are just plain different, so are ad servers and site metrics tools. Yet, well-intentioned people may still want to try to make them match.

As such, many of us continue to wrestle with these resulting issues…but at some level, unless your advertising campaign (paid media) is being measured on response – the benefit of harmonious tracking is academic. It i certainly safe to say that simpatico metrics does not always add value to the marketing.

Some initial thoughts:

  • Agency Ad Server-Side. Tools like DFA’s Spotlight offer landing page tracking – assuming there are no site limitations on 3rd party cookies (privacy concerns abound). However, this tool does not allow for total unique clicker tracking other than a proprietary sample-based approach. Others like Mediaplex and Eyeblaster offer this feature (mostly used for reach and frequency) while Atlas offers a sample-based approach with an total unique count available for an additional fee.
  • Metrics Tool-Side. Landing page tracking via a method of inserting query parameters into ads (Omniture/HitBox allow this). More interesting are advanced integrations, like Omniture’s Genesis show promise – such tools help sites manage the many tags and cookies from the various technology service providers out there – potentially enabling the comparison of apples-to-apples. Actually this approach is not entirely new, RealMedia’s Privacy Proxy Module for the Media side offered this kind of functionality years ago – alas, many media companies didn’t get it.
  • Universal Cookie. Common unique cookies across networks, medis sites, agencies and clients seems Utopian and unrealistic but would alleviate a lot of these challenges.

More to follow…

FacebookTwitterGoogle+LinkedInStumbleUponRedditShare