Category Archives: online media

Comparing Visits & Clicks…

In this business, we often get distracted by technologies on the way to the business ends they are supposed to help achieve. The purpose of this post is to outline a basic process that should shed some light on the very thorny issues involved when comparing numbers derived from agency-side ad servers like DART aka DFA and client-side site metrics tools like Omniture.

Complicating matters is a situation whereby landing page tracking by the ad server cannot be implemented. What to do?
  1. Determine the Purpose. If the marketing objective is performance-oriented, or post-click engagement is essential then you are on the right track. However, if your campaign is focused on a branding objective, how important is it really to get numbers to match?
  2. Choose your Measures. Which measures make sense? Stefane Hamel provides a good backgrounder on Instances vs. Visits. If you are in the paid display advertising/non-search business then most likely clicks and visits are closest; unique clicks and visits/visitors even better. If you are working with search, instances may make more sense…view-through offers even more insight on post-click engagement.
  3. Leverage Standards. The Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) & Web Analytics Association (WAA) are probably the most relevant industry groups that are working on measurement standards; terms and definitions vary.
  4. Manage Expectations. The reality is that numbers from different systems are unlikely to match; there are a variety of reasons but to make a long story short, they won’t match without serious integration and that has not yet happened. However, the recent announcement of a multi-faceted strategic alliance between agency holding group WPP & Omniture is very promising.
  5. Baseline. Given #1, the best alternative to is to create a simple baseline, e.g. an average over a safe period of time, e.g. a week or a month.
  6. Drop-off/Match. Breathe deep – acknowledge the causes are most likely latency, clickthrough URL parameter coding, landing page tag placement, application filters and counting methods that may never be in sync.
  7. Test & Debug. Understand that campaign trafficking and set-up processes are rife with glitches…clients, creative shops, media agencies and publishers rarely have the staff, or luxury of training to make all of this work flawlessly all of the time. One could spend significant quality time on process engineering these tasks.
Seems simple enough, right? Easier said than done!

Charlene Li: The Future of Social Networks

Charlene Li formerly of Forrester and author of Groundswell (with colleague Josh Bernoff) gave an interesting talk at the SF AMA meeting held at Adaptive Networks in SOMA: The Future of Social Networks.

While it started off a bit slow, with an new agey: “Social Networks will be like Air” it got better. Overall, Charlene’s comments were very thoughtful though anecdotal at times but ultimately practical…she also did a good job of “crowdsourcing” and engaging the group of attendees.

“Nice-to-have” would have liked more formal research to back-up some of her propositions; granted, social media is likely to evolve for a while as a medium and marketing channel. Though the venue was a bit small and stuffy there were plenty of snacks to be had. All told, for $50 it was just this side of worth it.

The presentation deck is also available here:
The Future of Social Networks

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…

Retail Online Media still Under the Radar

Happy New Year! Very interesting piece by Christopher Vollmer in Strategy & Business, Major Media in the Shopping Aisle. Since my background spans retailing (offline at Walgreen’s) and online media (agency, media and ad server software side) this caught my eye while browsing in Borders last night on Michigan Avenue.

However, S&B did not dig very deep! They totally missed the nascent Retail Online Media programs out there for a few years now and continuing to grow.
Such promotion and merchandising act as the front-line tactic for achieving retail sales. I had the opportunity to learn this up close and personal while I was in store operations with Walgreen’s early in my career…it is also probably why I chose to focus on marketing while attending Loyola’s GSB.

On the other hand, it’s understandable and not likely that, Sam’s Club and
CVS others are looking for trade coverage while they work out the kinks in these very high-margin (advertising) programs. These programs are akin to store circulars and local co-op ads (think Intel isnide or auto delership ads) but online; they are methodically bringing a brand message to targeted consumers as they are proceeding down the purchase funnel. For CPGs, the main media partner is their retail distributors and the funds are pulled from co-op marketing, MDF (market development funds) or trade allowances.

Retail online media is still under the radar although firms like Triad Digital Media are expanding the possibilities. Triad is a fast growing unit of MARS Advertising and functions like a rep firm, ad ops service provider and production studio rolled into one.

The Twilight Zone

Is it advertising or PR? How do you measure it? I spent this Wednesday contemplating that while attending the event held in SF’s Presidio. Disappointed by the lack of on-stage decorum but oh well.

Still many questions linger about measurement…fewer answers. Of note:

  • ComScore’s Gian Fulgoni – Despite PA-system glitches, Gian brought up their research on cookiesnot being infallible; he also reframed the “hater” questions about ComScore’s panel-based approach as about Basic Sampling Methodologies, i.e. Market Research/Statistics 101; Chicago-based Gian also dispelled a few myths about the growth of the ComScore panel and suggested that next year Mac users will be included.
  • Meet-up’s Scott HeifermanThe Heif managed to insult agencies and advertising clients but let everyone know that Meetup is now accepting sponsorships! huh? Scott wants you to know he favors Obama, all while throwing f-bombs for some reason; glad to hear that Meetup is now at breakeven AND doesn’t need any VC money. BTW, did IScott hails from suburban Chicago.
  • Quantcast’s Adam Gerber– Fascinating product with lots of potential; they don’t exactly spell out what their business model is for some reason.
  • Dave Smith of Medismith – Dave brought a rapidly escalating rhetorical 50,000-foot conversation down to Earth with one line: “…but I have campaigns to run.”
  • FM’s, John Battelle – for a few fleeting minutes, the Conversational Measurement Toolbox was being dangled, it was live…so close yet so far away. When can the clients beta test it?
  • Starcom’s Susan Desmond – fielded an unusual question from host John Battelle (bordering on obsequious) about Mad Men -“Was it really like that in advertising?” Susan was bullish on analytics in the emerging digital media agency; Susan is also based in Chicago.


OMMA Behavioral

All told great sessions held at Hotel Nikko, SF.

Some random observations:

  • What short memories marketers have. Total obliviousness to the four other companies that preceded the Behavioral 1.0: Neural Applications, HNC Aptex, Nestor Interactive and Trivida.
  • Somebody threw out $775 MM in BT spend this year. Where does this number come from?
  • Good session by Brent from Omniture about “antici-pointment.” That is Omniture-speak for the messaging disconnect from ad to click to landing page.
  • Where else can you hear the word, “Inchoate” used 3 times? Not at @dtech.
  • Eric from 33Across mentioned the need to re-use a la lead gen, users that expressed interest but didn’t follow-through to conversion.
  • Frost from Collective/Predictify talking about agencies having their own database of behavioral profiles.
  • Budgeting 15% of spend for optimization of campaigns.
  • The “Social Media Advertising Pile-On”

Check out OMMA Behavioral Raw blog

MP3s Coming soon…

SVASE Digital Media: Building a Business with Social Networks

Downloadable excerpt from SVASE: Digital Media: Building a Business with Social Networks


The Panel:

  • Patrick Chanezon, API Evangelist, Google

  • Jyri Engestrom, Entrepreneur, Google and Co-founder, Jaiku

  • Konstantin Guericke, CEO, jaxtr and Co-founder, LinkedIn

  • Ramu Yalamanchi, Founder and CEO, hi5

Moderator: Trevor Cornwell,Founder, Embarkons, Inc


  1. Patrick from Google discussed the concept of socializing objects; people gathering around something.
  • question later came from an engineer of how this works with object-oriented programming…(no joke).
  • Find opportunities using “Chain on Pain” mentioned as a helpful and applicable Guy Kawasaki-ism.
  • Naming…just add “ster”, e.g. Jobster, Dogster, Jaxtr, etc…
  • Konstantin thought it key to build value in the product, enough for people to pay for…
  • Jyri brought up a question that prospectice investors ask, that entrepreneurs ought to ask themselves…”What is your Unfair Advantage?”
  • Some prescient advertising insight offered by Ramu in the Q&A
  • Tired of Doom & Gloom in the Online Ad Biz?

    May want to read on… The IAB announced the 2007 stats. While they are slow in coming, these reports are usually very interesting and full of good insight.

    • For 2007, revenues totaled $21.2 bil, exceeding 2006 performance by 26 %, itself the former record year.
    • Q4 2007 Internet advertising revenues hit $5.9 billion, representing historic revenues for a single quarter and a 24% increase over the same period in 2006.
    • This is the fourth consecutive year and 13th consecutive quarter of record results.
    FY 2007
    FY 2006
    CPM or Impression
    45% ($9,492)
    48% ($8,102)
    Performance Deals
    51% ($10,817)
    47% ($7,933)
    4% ($897)
    5% ($844)

    Sure is interesting to see performance deals exceeding CPM-based advertising…

    Full IAB-PWC Report

    Chicago Start-up/Creative Scene Documenter Gets Tribune Ink

    The Chicago Tribune published a fair enough story about BusinessPOV (a consulting client of mine), a locally-based online media start-up in the city. BusinessPOV has created over 100 bite-sized video segments on local Chicago business available via RSS. Founded by non-technologists, they combine a fresh journalistic style with high production values to document entrepreneurs, investors, thought-leaders and innovators alike.