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The ad tracker was originally developed to provide a record of all hits to a site resulting from ad placements. This article shows a host of different ways to utilise an ad tracker.
#1. The Long Url Problem
Have you ever seen an ad where you are asked to click on an affiliate URL so long that it stretches over 2 lines, like this
Do you think your reader will bother to do the necessary cut and paste to put it in a browser?
And that's probably one lost sale.
And even a one line affiliate link may exceed the permissible length for some ad posting requirements.
The solution: use a short tracking URL.
#2. Losing Your Affiliate Code
As an affiliate you may have your affiliate code embedded in a link something like this:
Some customers will bypass the affiliate code and just type in the home URL http://www.abc.com (possibly because they think that they will be paying extra for an agent's commission)
The solution: use a tracking URL - so that your affiliate code number is never seen.
#3. Make Your Ad Stand Out
You may have seen search engine results showing near identical listings for the same product, differing only in an affiliate code appended to the URL.
Your listing here will be just one of many unless you make it stand out. So bypass the standard affiliate URL and use a tracking URL.
#4. How Effective Are The Links
You can measure and compare the effectiveness of the different banners or text links the affiliate programs provide you by using a tracking URL.
#5. Changing Links
If an affiliate company change their links then your existing ads, wherever they are posted, become worthless. But if you use a tracking URL you simply revise the affiliate URL at the tracking control centre.
#6. Affiliate Program Discontinued
Similarly if an affiliate program is discontinued you just change your tracking URL to a new page where you explain the circumstances and point your visitor to your other promotions.
#7. Better Affiliate Stats
Not all affiliate programs provide you with stats about visitors. And if they do are they adequate ?
Compare a basic monthly figure say
- Jan: 39 hits
with a detailed analysis such as
- Jan 12: 10 hits
- Jan 13: 2 hits
- Jan 20: 21 hits
- Jan 21: 6 hits
where you can relate those dates to particular ad campaigns.
Tracking URLs will give you these improved figures.
#8. Checking Affiliate Stats
Even if you do receive good stats from your affiliate program it still makes sense to use tracking URLs so that you can compare your figures with theirs.
A large discrepancy could mean errors in their software or (hopefully not) fraudulent activity on their part.
An alternative reason is that their measurement takes place when their page is fully loaded rather than at the start, indicating that visitors are clicking away because it is taking too long to load.
FOR EZINE PUBLISHERS
#9. Win Advertisers With Tracking Reports
If you sell advertising space in your ezine you can offer to your advertisers to replace their URLs with your tracking URLs and Email them the results.
Tell your advertisers about these benefits in your advertising guidelines
- They will know the number of clickthroughs their ad has generated. They can then decide how to improve the ads for better performance
- If they use a tracker program with your own domain name in the tracking URL your ezine subscribers will be more inclined to click
- They can use your ezine as a test centre, modifying their ads until they are happy, before launching with other publishers
#10. Use Tracking Report Results
The tracking reports above will provide you with information on your subscribers' interests, influencing your editorial content and helping you select which potential advertisers to approach
Also, once your advertisers have seen for themselves the benefits of an ad tracking program they will be inclined to purchase one. So set yourself up as an affiliate for a program and promote it to them.
#11. Measure Your Readership
You may know how many subscribers you have but how many actually open and read your ezine and which parts of it attract most attention ?
Here's how to find out if you distribute your ezine in HTML Format: include an image on your page, e.g a banner or logo or a single pixel GIF. Then reference this image with a tracking URL.
For an ezine distributed as plain text it is not possible to see if it is actually opened or read. But what you can do is insert tracking URLs at the appropriate points, such as product offers or special articles, and get comparative figures for which items are being read.
AT YOUR WEB SITE
#12. The Problem Of Permanent URLs
Web sites are continually evolving and changing.
You may want to rename a page to make it more consistent and logical but there's a huge problem. You have given out the URL in an ebook, or a directory submission, or an article or wherever. There's no way you can undo this.
The solution ?
Never provide the actual URL, just a tracking URL. You can then just edit the link at the tracking centre whenever a page is moved or renamed.
The external links, in your ebook for example, stay the same but they will redirect to your new page.
#13. What Are Your Visitors Doing ?
You have text links all over your site, links to your other pages and links to recommended sites.
Where are your visitors clicking ?
Where are they leaving your site, why, how can you stop them ?
Which graphic do they click on the most ?
Do they click on the text link more than the graphic link?
Your log files may tell you at best which are the most popular pages at your site but it is vital to know how your visitors move through your site and what is tempting them.
Use tracking URLs to replace actual links wherever you need to monitor click activity.
#14. Sell Website Advertising Space
You can offer tracking reports to your advertisers in the same way as for ezine publishers (above).
#15. Stop Piracy
If you have invested man-months of time setting up a vital resource site involving a directory of links it's very easy for a pirate to simply copy your page and provide useful content for his own site.
If you use tracking URLs for those directory links you can detect this copy - because the ad tracking program will record the referring URL.
At the same time of course you can measure the popularity of the directory links.
USING PAY PER CLICK SEARCH ENGINES
#16. Better Click Activity Reporting
Pay per click search engines will report to you click activity on your URL. Engines vary in the frequency and format of the reporting so you can use tracking URLs instead to obtain better information.
#17. Prevent Fraudulent Activity
You can compare your figures with the engine's and should query any large discrepancy.
If click activity is unusually high you may have a competitor clicking on just to incur costs against you. You may be able to detect this by comparing the figures for unique hits and actual hits (several hits per visitor).
#18. Check How Successful
If you have ever wondered whether it was worth advertising off line because of the supposed impossibility of measuring the response then ad tracking URLs will answer that problem. Just include them in your ads in
- press releases
- shop notice boards
- and so on
#19. Use The Time Reports
The date and time when clicks are made will allow you to check the progress of your ads, for example
- has your newspaper ad been submitted yet ?
- has your billboard notice been removed ?
- how long does a magazine ad stay around ?
For a long running ad you can study the response and switch the link midstream if necessary to an improved web page.
#20. Do Free Books Work ?
The main purpose of a free ebook is to get the reader back to your site. But how successful is it proving ?
Put tracking URLs in the book and you will find out.
#21. Maintain Control After Download
Once your ebook is downloaded it would appear that you no longer have any control over it. Not so. You can redirect the reader to other pages of your site by changing the tracking Url links.
#22. Become An Ad Tracking Affiliate
Since ad tracking programs are high demand marketing tools you can profit by joining their affiliate program (if they have one).
Owning the product that you promote always gives that extra advantage e.g you can give an example of how you use it or a personal testimonial as to how it has benefited you.
You may want to post an URL somewhere and - for reasons of your own - not let it reveal your website. You can do this with an ad tracking program where the supplier domain name is used in the tracking URL.
For more details about the above tips and yet more ways to use an ad tracker see Harvey's free ebook Ad Tracking SuperTips
Publishers can reproduce this article and change the URL to point to their own rebranded version.
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