last-ad accounting, last-ad-attribution model

Why the Click Is the Wrong Metric for Online (Display) Ads

There is a whole ruckus around ad networks getting too little credit for helping to drive customers’ awareness and clicks for advertisers. In the past, ad networks wanted to claim credit for type-ins (people going to an advertiser’s site by typing the URL instead of clicking on an ad). They called this “view through” and the ad networks wanted these to be attributed to their showing the ad somewhere on their network.

Now they claim that getting credit for only the last-ad is not enough — the ad the user actually clicked on to get to the advertiser’s site, the one that can actually be tracked and properly attributed.

What’s at stake is the relatively large piece of “direct” or referrer-less traffic. Analytics packages can only assign these to type-ins or bookmarks since there was no referring site to attribute them to, let alone ad creative version, etc.

But while there is demonstrable lift in click rates when display ads and search ads are running at the same time — i.e. they reinforce and complement each other — it does not mean that ad networks can or should claim credit for the lift. After all, advertising running on another network COULD also cause a lift in results of ads running on another network if they are run simultaneously.

So the bottom line is if the click or the visit is not directly attributable, it should not be attributed.

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By: Dr. Augustine Fou Monday, February 23rd, 2009 display advertising

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Dr. Augustine Fou is Digital Consigliere to marketing executives, advising them on digital strategy and Unified Marketing(tm). Dr Fou has over 17 years of in-the-trenches, hands-on experience, which enables him to provide objective, in-depth assessments of their current marketing programs and recommendations for improving business impact and ROI using digital insights.

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