|Do you have links in various Web sites
that give you a user name and password to view a statistics page for your particular link
or banner? Does this statistics page give you page view counts (impressions), click
through counts, etc? If so, expect your real traffic report numbers to show less click
throughs than what these statistics pages show. The issue of over-reporting is a well
known problem within the online advertising industry.
Over-reporting is what got Google in hot water that resulted in a law suit with Google settling for $90 million. To me it is astounding that any site would still offer these little statistics pages.
Why It Happens
These are just a few examples of how your call does not go through. And similar issues with computers talking to each other occur that cause inaccurate counting on those little "stat" pages.-
The world's top authority on this issue is the Interactive Advertising Bureau. This non-profit organization sets world standards for all types of interactive and online advertising. Their members sell 86% of all online advertising. You can visit the IABs Web site at http://www.iab.net
It is important to note that clicks are not equivalent to web-site referrals (visits) measured at the destination site. If an organization complies with the guidelines specified herein, there will still be measurement differences between originating-server measurement and the destination site (advertiser). The use of 302 redirects helps to mitigate this difference because of its easy and objective quantification. However, differences will remain from measurements taken at the destination site because of various issues such as latency, user aborts, etc. The subject of the magnitude of this difference may be a subject for future phases of this project." End IAB quote.
A complete traffic report shows the number of successful hits, the number of failed hits, what part of the failed hits were server errors, and what percentage of failed hits were client errors.
In all traffic reports I see anywhere from 13% to 24% of total hits as failed hits. Remember, hits are not visits, or visitors. However, even a small percentage of failed hits, either client or server, will cause clicks from other sites to fail. When this happens the click is recorded in the site of origin as a click, but that click does not result in the person who made the click actually seeing the site. It is this event to which the IAB refers to in the above quote.
What It Means
Many sites still offer these little statistics pages. 2Cooleys does not, and will not unless the technology improves. These little statistics pages are almost always going to over-report the click count, and usually by substantial amounts. I've seen this for years.
Yet whenever I try to point out this problem I get accused of being "sour grapes" and "not being a team player". The errors caused by the statistic pages is such common knowledge within the online advertising industry that anyone who still advocates use of the statistics page does NOT know what they are talking about. I don't care who they are, or how "Official" they think their word is. It is the equivalent of saying the world is flat.
The problem is with the "redirect" files that must be used to run the little statistics pages. IAB states in its standards that the redirect should be on the same server where the requested Web site is hosted. The redirect should NOT be hosted on the same server as the originating site. Yet folks selling banners and links want the redirects on their server so that you will see the pumped up numbers. As you can tell, this is a pet peeve of mine.
Here is one example of how redirects got Google in
Why Do They Still Use Redirects?
1. They just don't know any better. They have not done their homework, they have no idea who, or what, IAB is. The test is to ask them very simply, "Do your redirects comply with IAB guidelines?". If they ask, "Who is IAB?" you know they don't know any better.
2. They know better but are hoping you do not. The over-reported numbers impress you more, and therefore you are encouraged to keep buying their program.
3. They know better, but have so much time invested setting up all those statistics pages they don't want to stop using them.
4. They know better but are embarrassed to admit it. It makes them look bad.
5. They disagree with IAB. Not smart. That is what Google tried to do - and lost. Now Google complies with IAB guidelines. Imagine that.
It Is No Big Deal
Written August 2008 by Gary Cooley