Archive for October, 2007

Visual Sciences (WebSiteStory) sold to Omniture for $394M

October 26th, 2007 by Richard Zwicky

I was just catching up on the overnight news and saw that Omniture, the Salt Lake City analytics firm has agreed to acquire Visual Sciences Inc., which makes Web Site Story analytics, for $394 million in cash and stock.

According to Reuters, Visual Sciences shareholders will get $2.39 in cash per share and 0.49 share of Omniture stock for each Visual Sciences share held.

1.6% of Facebook sold for $240 Million

October 24th, 2007 by Richard Zwicky

I just saw this come across the wire. Microsoft has purchased 1.6% of Facebook for $240 Million. This puts a total value of $15 billion on Facebook.

This is a great move for MSFT, on a whole lot of levels.

Click Fraud v. Click Quality Assurance

October 2nd, 2007 by Richard Zwicky

I read Andrew Goodman’s review of PPC Assurance this morning with great interest. That may appear to be an incredibly obvious comment, but my interest was two-fold. First, I enjoyed learning about how Andrew is using PPC Assurance, and the value his client(s) have derived from it.

Secondly, and most importantly, I was interested to see how our message on click quality is being understood. Essentially; not all “bad clicks” are click fraud, and not all bad clicks are really bad. How’s that for simple?

If a click doesn’t match your campaign parameters, then it’s traffic you did not want. Therefore, it’s bad. (kind of). But if you didn’t pay for it, do you care? Might as well have been an organic click in that case, right? So, where’s the issue with having visitors arrive at your web site from a paid campaign, when you didn’t have to pay for those visitors? With Google’s invalid clicks, this is what you’re getting. Unfortunately, people confuse these “acceptable” bad clicks with “click fraud”. It’s not.

Of course, there’s the other problem; knowing which clicks you paid for that didn’t match your campaign parameters. These are what we call “undesired.” Andrew did a great job on explaining both these “acceptable” and “undesired” clicks.

Knowing what is going on in your campaigns is paramount. “Know every Click” is a by-line for us.

When reporting for customers, we’ve observed that some PPC campaigns are more open to issues than others. The larger the network, the more potential trouble points will exist. Also, the narrower, and more focused a campaign is, the harder it is for the ad network to serve the ads out properly all the time, and the more clicks requiring refunds will exist. Knowing when the problems exist, and being able to easily resolve these issues is what PPC Assurance is all about.

However, just using a normal analytics package doesn’t help you understand which of these clicks you paid for, and which you didn’t. Standard web analytics services are great tools for reporting on user activity within a site, and improving paths through to conversion. That’s extremely valuable, but very different from “search analytics” which is what we do.

Click Fraud tracking is also very different from what we do at PPC Assurance. In click fraud, visitor behavior is being analyzed to ascertain if it is “normal.” We don’t do that. We perform the same type of function Nielsen serves to TV, and Arbitron to radio: Did your ads display in accordance with the terms and conditions of your contract? If it didn’t we provide you with the mechanism you need to resolve the issue with your provider.

Can you imagine contracting services from anyone without some way of testing whether or not terms were met for payment? Well, if you’re buying PPC ads right now, you are effectively blindly trusting that your service provider is executing on their contract word for word. It doesn’t matter how much trust exists between parties, verification is a business requirement.

Any established business has audit trails in accounting, and means of verifying a variety of business metrics. Click Fraud detection does not provide this service, it provides an evaluation of the quality of the traffic referred by an ad network.

As I wrote last week in my post about Click Fraud in Forbes as an advertiser you want to protect yourself from Click Fraud, but not all mistakes in campaign execution are “fraud.” As an advertiser, you need to be cognizant of the quality of the clicks which reach your site, and you need to know that the contract you’ve entered into with your ad network provider is being honored. If you wanted clicks from just the U.S., you only want to be billed for clicks from the U.S. Simple. But just because you sometimes don’t doesn’t mean it’s click fraud.

Andrew knows the difference. He’s demonstrated today that PPC Assurance provide everyone with a simple way of knowing every click, and monitoring campaigns so that when problems do arise (and they do), you’ll know immediately, will be able to respond quickly, and will be able to resolve the problem without jumping through a lot of hoops.

PPC Campaign - Tracking URL's - ValueTrack Tag

October 1st, 2007 by Richard Zwicky

When you enable campaign tracking URL’s in Google using their ValueTrack tag, there’s quite a lot of information you can collect. It’s an extremely valuable option which anyone running a PPC campaign should enable.

What it does is allow your analytics software to track individual PPC campaigns more precisely. I wish every ad network offered a similar feature: it makes your campaign tracking much more transparent, and makes it a lot easier to understand what is actually going on within individual campaigns.

Have you ever looked at your stats and wondered if you paid for all those clicks from China when your campaigns were geo-targeted to the U.S. only? Have you tried running one campaign weekdays and a different one on weekends, and been left wondering if the ads ran properly, or if you paid for the clicks that came through from a campaign on the wrong days? The ValueTrack tag lets your analytics reports drill into this information easier.

Even with the ValueTrack tag turned on, it’s still not simple, which is why we built PPC Assurance.

But one thing that has become apparent is Google update times. Since we’re monitoring so many campaigns, a really clear understanding of how quickly Google responds to changes in your campaign settings or configuration is pretty obvious; you can actually see it in the graph below.

Some people believe that if you make a campaign update, the effect is immediate. It’s not. It takes a while not only to get “published” but also to get published across the network. First off, many changes will take until the next day to be promoted to the live network. But some changes will take a few days to make it to live status across the entire ad network. Here’s an example:

For purposes of explaining data, we use 4 colors:

  • Green: Good PPC traffic: It matches what you set for campaign parameters.
  • Yellow: This traffic does not match your campaign settings, but due to the number of invalid clicks you were credited for, we’ve established you did not pay for it. So, it’s deemed “acceptable.”
  • Red: This is traffic you paid for, and it did not match your campaign settings. We term it “undesired” traffic. You’ve paid for it, and you ought not have.
  • Gray: this is “missing” traffic. Don’t worry about this at the start of the campaign, but you need to watch it as a campaign unfolds. In this case it reflects traffic which is not matching the campaign parameters as set. It’s not actually missing, it’s not matching, because the campaign info from the ValueTrack tag was not being transmitted. The amount of PPC traffic could be ascertained, but not matched to which campaign it belonged at the granular level.

So Gray (or grey depending on where you are sitting ) is the color you need to focus on in this example screenshot. The reason it’s gray in this example is because up until June 25, there was no tracking code enabled. We were able to validate that there was traffic to the site from the various PPC Campaigns, not if it matched the settings on a granular campaign by campaign basis, (we can work without the ValueTrack tag, but for this example we’re not doing so). We added the ValueTrack Tag to each of the customer’s campaigns early in the morning on June 25, but it was only midday (12:00 PST) on the 26th when Google’s network actually started referring traffic with the tracking tag information attached. It took until June 29 for all referrals to start incorporating the tag.

So, when you make an update to a Google PPC Campaign, where you are adding a tracking tag, be aware that the change is not immediate. It seems to be pretty consistent that most of Google’s adservers will update within 24 hours, but that it can take up to four days for it to propagate fully.

Once the integration period is over, you need to watch for the grey spikes for a completely different reason. But I’ll post about that at a later date.