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Online ad tracking is available for both sides of the process. The people selling you the ad space need to track impressions and click-throughs to charge you appropriatel. But you are correct to be concerned about potentially fraudulaent or inaccurate charges. You should use online ad tracking that lets you monito traffice, impressions, and click-throughs on your own ads. Click-fraud can make all your marketing efforts on pay-per-click ads worthless. Online ad tracking and other solutions should help you analyze incoming traffice, site usage, and conversion statistics for each of your compaigns and different traffic sources. Find out whether people are coming to your site via your newsletter, a pay-per-click ad, or search engine results. Analyze which visitors turn into customers. It doesn't do any good to pay for ads that drive traffic to your site if the percentage of visitors converting to customers is too small. Make sure your ad management solutions help you track the most effective means of conversion. And make sure you're not getting charged for fraudulent click-throughs.
If you ever wondered about the success of online advertising, look at the battle brewing between Google, MSN and Yahoo for dominance in search engine advertising placement and ad campaign tracking. MSN releases AdCenter and Yahoo is following up with its own third-generation platform, currently known as "Project Panama." Project Panama, a complete upgrade to Yahoo's ad placement and ad tracking software, is set to be released sometime in 2006. Panama will improve on Yahoo's current ad placement and ad campaign tracking interface with features like local targeting and multiple ads linked to multiple keywords.
How fast is online advertising growing? According to CNet, the online ad market is expected to grow by 24 percent in 2006 with a long way to go, since online is still only 5 percent of the total media market. Why is this happening now? Lots of reasons -- decent economy, growing online readership. But a big reason is because ad tracking software has become much better, allowing advertisers to truly do the detailed ad campaign tracking that promised since the mid-90s.
Ad management solutions run the gamut from very simple ad tracking software to very complex ad management software that can help guide and shape your marketing campaigns. Learn whether text ads, graphic ads, rotating banner ads, or pay-per-click keywords work best for your site. Your goal is to increase your online business ROI and conversions. Don't be sold on just tracking traffic without being able to analyze whether that increased traffic is resulting in sales. Ad management solutions that help you analyze deviations, underperformance, web site usability, and visitor and conversation statistics will help ensure that your money is going to the most productive traffic sources for your site. Set up alternate landing pages for the same ad campaign and track the conversion rates on each, quickly making adjustments as you see which layout and graphics convert the most visitors to customers. Track leads from incoming sources and compare which source provides the highest quality leads for you.
Ad management software helps you track traffic and click-through rates and is an important part of all shopping cart applications. Customers want proven data before purchasing ad space from you and you want information about the success or failure of your ad campaigns. Ad tracking software helps online publishers and marketers provide prospective customers with the data they need. Ad management software can be hosted by someone else, running on their servers, or you can purchase software to run on your own servers. Hosted solutions offer the convenience of a shorter ramp-up time, so you can start your online ad tracking campaign almost immediately. Locally run services offer you more options, but require more of your time (or an employee's time) to manage, configure, and monitor. Geographical targeting, revenue tracking, and real-time reporting are important features to look for in your ad management software.
Advertising management can help a lot. First, you might want to set up different landing pages on your web site for different ads, so you can give people exactly what they are looking for, very quickly. Don't embed the same URL in all of your online ads and just send people to your home page, expecting them to navigate to their area of interest. Use your online ad tracking to track which ads send the most people your site and which ads send visitors that convert to customers. Create specific landing pages for your print ads as well, so you can spot which publications generate the best leads for you. Advertising management helps you get the most bang for your advertising buck. Don't waste your money on publications that don't drive traffic unless you're just trying to create some brand awareness and want people to become familiar with your name. If you don't have the resources to do this yourself, consider contracing with an outside agency to do your advertising mangement for you.
One free benefit of AdWords, Google's hugely successful online ad placement and ad campaign tracking software, is that you can link it to Google Analytics site analysis tool. Google Analytics, which was born recently when Google acquired popular web reporting tool Urchin, is available only by invitation, unless you are an AdWords customer. Then you get free access to the tool, which, among other things, can be used to track ROI on each keyword you purchase. It makes for nifty total ad tracking software, and can really help any AdWords customer do better ad campaign tracking.
Ad tracking software can be used to rotate ads based on context, time, or other criteria. Ideally, your ad tracking software should be able to provide reports to help you analyze results and improve click-throughs. Ads should be able to be updated on the fly rather than you having to update your pages manually. By serving up ads in real-time, rather than you encoding them manually, poor-performing ads can be switched out instantly. For ezines, web sites, and online newsletters the ads should be customized according to the content and served up in the way that gets the most traffic.
If you want to do serious ad campaign tracking of a Google paid search ad, but Google Analytics doesn't do enough for you, there are lots of other ad tracking software options for obtaining detailed tracking of how your Google campaign is affecting your site. Most of these options, however, require server-level access to install a script. So unless you're running your own server, you're going to have to either ask your hosting company to install the script for you or find a host that already provides the scripts.
If you're serious about ad campaign tracking on your website, you need to have ad tracking software that works in real time. Real-time software allows anyone supervising an ad tracking campaign to follow the results of the campaign instantly as it happens, as well as daily, weekly and other segments. Without real-time tracking you have to wait at least 24 hours before you can see any results.
What's the fastest growing segment of the online world? It's mobile communications, where ads are just starting to appear in MMS, videos and mobile websites. So how can you perform ad campaign tracking with these ads? New software has just been released over the past few months to allow ad agencies to place and track ads with mobile content providers. It's the next frontier and if you're considering ad campaign software, it shouldn't be ignored.
If you're considering ad campaign tracking software, think of today's -- and tomorrow's -- online ad market as you investigate a potential purchase. The most dominant form of online advertising today is paid search contextual ads from companies like Google, Yahoo and now MSN. All offer online ad tracking software that offers more detail than ever before available, helping buyers better target ads to specific demographics and track their success. But if this still isn't enough detail, you can also purchase companion ad tracking software that allows even more information analysis in ad tracking, as well as ad tracking for traditional banner campaigns. So if you're looking for state-of-the-art ad campaign tracking that will meet your needs now and in the future, investigate ad tracking software built to track both Google/Yahoo/MSN contextual ads and traditional banner ad campaigns, giving you the most detail possible and the best opportunities for scalability for the future.
The Web 2.0 movement, with content-based networking becoming a dominant force, can be harnessed to help your ad campaign tracking, rather than hurt it. For example, there are now RSS ad syndication services. Own a blog with a popular RSS feed, you can consider using an RSS syndicating service to run ads on it. Or if you're a marketer, looking to find new methods of reaching targeted readers, you can buy space on an RSS feed. Either way, the campaign tracking is built-in, so you'll know exactly who's seeing the ads.
Bid management software is a worthwhile investment for anyone serious about paid search ad campaign tracking. Solid bid management software not only helps you monitor your keyword positioning across multiple search engines, but can often spit back information on the conversion rate and cost per sale of each keyword.
Google announced in mid-2006 that it is testing new ad campaign tracking models that move from its current CPC (cost per click) to CPA (cost per action). This means the advertiser will no longer pay Google -- or any other online ad service -- when potential buyers click on an ad. Instead the advertiser would only pay when a user somehow qualifies as a sales lead. So what does this mean to you, the Internet advertiser looking for an click-fraud-free alternative? Great things, perhaps. But it's probably smart in most cases to step back for a few months and see how the first experiments work before jumping into a CPC camapign.
If you own a business that uses GoogleAdWords, you probably have a good idea whether it works overall, but don't have the solid lead tracking to know exactly how well. Salesforce.com, an industry leader, has recently taken a step toward narrowing that ad campaign tracking gap by integrating Google AdWords with its product, allowing it to track leads from the web site through to closing. It doesn't make the system foolproof. If the customer doesn't want to ID how he or she got to your web site, there still isn't much a merchant can do. But it's a step in the right direction.
Does anyone still run their own banner ad campaigns? With the explosive growth of paid search ads from Google, Yahoo and now MSN, as well as successful ad networks like Doubleclick, the classic banner ad seems to have gone the way of HTML frames and web rings. You can find them in most common programming languages, including ASP and Java, and many work with the free MySQL database.
Tracking pay-per-click search engine advertising is relatively easy, using ad tracking software provided online by Google, MSN or Yahoo. Tracking click fraud is harder. Click fraud occurs when someone clicks on your search engine text ad with intent to drive up your costs without any benefit. It can really mess up your ad campaign tracking, let alone your budget. All three of the major search engines watch for click fraud and can surprise customers with a refund if fraud is detected. But you can also track it yourself with a tool like Adwatcher, which integrates click fraud tracking with its ad campaign tracking software. Adwatcher gets good reviews all around for its click fraud detection, as well as overall ad tracking.
In 2006, more than $15 billion is expected to be spent on online advertising, according to research firm eMarketer, with Google and Yahoo cashing in on up to 45 percent of the profits. Microsoft wants in, too, which is why it recently released MSN AdCenter online ad placement and ad campaign tracking software. Microsoft is placing big bets on MSN search, and with AdCenter can now compete with Google for context-based ads and the ad tracking software that goes with it. And MSN has a secret weapon -- user data from Passport and other MSN products that can be used to allow buyers to segment ads by demographic. Who will win? Stay tuned for what's likely to be an epic battle.
|Sheri Ann Richerson|