Google Analytics a free web analytics tool

Measuring Traffic From Another Site

How do you determine whether the internet advertising campaign you purchased is a success?  You want to make sure that you are not only working with the right metric, but that you translate that metric to your customer in the most meaningful way.

Last month, I found myself in between two customers who were trying to measure the success of a banner campaign. Customer ‘A’ had purchased banner advertising on customer ‘B’s site.  When it came to evaluating the success of the advertising program, one of the metrics used was clicks – exactly how many clicks did customer B’s website send to customer A’s?   Customer A had been using Google Analytics and was measuring the number of clicks received, through referring traffic. The problem became when customer B, whose website is built in Joomla, and had installed a Joomla Banner Counter had a different metric.  And I mean really different.  They were apart by over 500 clicks.  And the question became who was right?

I consulted with two colleagues who checked both Google Analytics and the Joomla Banner counter and confirmed that something was indeed a miss.  We did several tests from Customer B’s website only to note that while the Joomla Banner Counter was indeed counting each individual click, the same traffic was being recognized by Google Analytics not as referring traffic as it should be, but as direct traffic, and hence undistingushable.  The bottom line is that Customer B was sending traffic to Customer A’s website, but not receiving credit from Google.

Checking the Google Analytics Help Blog, I noted that it wasn’t just my two customers that were having the same sort of issues, in fact this kind of ‘misfiring’ seems to happen a lot in Google Analytics.  And because Customer B’s website is hosted on a single server, with less chance of ‘mis-firing’ it stood to reason that the Joomla Banner Counter was the more reliable resource.

Fortunately there was an easy solution. In future, all banners will include a Google Campaign Tracking code. Then it will be tracked directly as a campaign and side step the problem of seeing if it comes in as referring traffic.

Past is past, and now there is a solution going forward.

    Lessons Learned?

  • Remember that web analytics is about documenting trends and not necessarily specifics.  What we are trying to determine is whether the marketing programs we are putting in place are indeed having the success we want.
  • Earn the trust of your customer, and admit when you’ve made a mistake.  Analytics is a fairly new field and interpreting it for the busy entrepeneur in a meaningful way continues to be the most important factor in any business relationship.


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