Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Importance of Setting up correct Tracking – Always test before going Live

In my previous posts I have stressed about setting up tracking correctly. I think I found an example to help explain that today. If tracking is not set up correctly, one may end up reporting metrics which are “Too good to be true”.
What if one fine day you pull a impression click report from your Ad server, example DART and get 1,000 impressions and 500 clicks. You will be like, 50% Click-through Rate. This ad must be a rock star! Every other person who was exposed to this ad, clicked on it. When I last checked the average click-through rates, I think they were in the 0.1%-0.2% range. Where did this 50% come from?
First thing I do is contact my Ad ops team to check if the tracking was set up correctly, did the publisher implement the tags correctly. To me, this seems to be a case where either:
1. Impressions were not being counted correctly OR
2. Clicks were being counted 50x
3. I have also seen instances where for every impressions a click was being counted – somehow the click tag was firing with every impression
Most of the times, it ends up being a tracking issue or the site did not implement the tags correctly.
These issues are usually an easy fix but what if there was a one day placement (the ad was supposed to be live for only 24 hrs) and there was an error. The data reported would be incorrect and there is no time to fix this issue. We all know that some of these one day placements at major sites like MSN, AOL, Yahoo!, CNET, CNN etc cost a lot of money – a few hundred thousand dollars per day. This is a lot of money and missing out tracking on so much money is never good.
So, again please always make sure the tracking is set up correctly and ask your Ad ops team to test before going live.

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