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Web Analytics and Ad Analytics: Can You Spot the Difference?

Written on
Aug 10, 2011 
Author
Paul Pellman  |

ADOTAS – Imagine you run an online business, or a business that depends on the web in some way.  (Ok, that probably wasn’t a stretch.)  You would never even consider trying to run your business without web analytics.

Web analytics tells you how many visitors came to your site, how they got there, how long they stayed, what they looked at, whether they bought something, and whether they ever come back.  And if so, how often and what else do they buy?

Web analytics is an essential part of any business that leverages the power of the Internet and no interactive marketer would consider trying to do without at least one Web analytics tool like Omniture, Coremetrics or Google Analytics.

Yet marketers this year will spend over $25 billion running online ads without comprehensive ad analytics. What’s the difference? A lot.

What is the difference between web analytics and ad analytics?

Web analytics is primarily useful for on-site measurement of user traffic once it reaches a web site.  Ad analytics looks at the off-site impact of online advertising campaigns, including display, search, e-mail, social, mobile, etc.

Consider that click through rates for online ads hover around 0.1% and then think about the logic of measuring campaign success by discarding 99.9% of the available data. That’s what it means to use web analytics to try to measure and manage online campaigns.

Web analytics deliver deep, insightful data about the behavior of 0.1% of your audience. Ad analytics leverages the other 99.9% to drive improved online results.

An analogy might make it even clearer. For web analytics, an equivalent would be a traditional brick and mortar retail store that analyzes visitors and their behavior once they are inside the retail store.

Ad analytics is quite different. In the bricks and mortar example, it’s equivalent to the retailer understanding which radio ads or billboards drew a visitor into the store in the first place. And which TV spots or newspaper ads weren’t working, so the budget should be reallocated elsewhere.

Ad analytics measures the interactions with your advertisements and marketing campaigns run on other web sites and online properties (other than your web site) and which ads/properties are performing best.

Do I need to care about ad analytics?

Absolutely! Understanding ad analytics is the only way to understand how visitors truly find you, and what campaigns or creative need quick corrective action. Ad analytics is essential to evaluating online media spend across an expanding number of web, digital and mobile platforms and channels.

What is the role of attribution measuring campaign effectiveness?

Attribution analysis is a key component of ad analytics – as it tells you what worked and what didn’t in trying to attract new customers. Attribution analysis is the true secret sauce of ad analytics. With attribution metrics one can optimize campaigns, creative and placements to drive maximum return on ad spend (ROAS).

As online display advertising becomes more popular among brands, ad analytics is becoming more important to helping them understand where to reach new audiences and how to maximize the positive effects of their message. Ad analytics provides online advertisers with valuable information on multiple facets of online campaigns, including ad verification, attribution and brand safety, all of which combine to determine the influence of ad campaigns on audiences and the impact on business results.

Because digital channels are expanding quickly to more interactive, social and mobile platforms, online marketers need to understand how the combination of web analytics and ad analytics work together to help them fine tune their campaigns and better optimize how they spend online marketing dollars.





Paul Pellman is an expert on cross-platform ad analytics technology for the online advertising industry. He has spoken on the topic at Ad:Tech, OMMA, SES and Pubcon. As the CEO of Adometry (formerly Click Forensics), he oversees the development and delivery of the company's ad analytics offerings, which are used by leading brands and ad providers, including Facebook, eBay, Microsoft, AT&T, Expedia and more. Previously, Paul held executive positions at Hoover's and Terra Lycos and was CEO of two start-ups. He holds a B.S. from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Harvard University.

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