Chasing the Advertising dollar

High traffic sites rely on advertising to pay the expenses such as hosting, staff, content etc. They’re not hobby sites (like this one) but real businesses… and if they’re not they quickly wise up when they discover that shared hosting won’t do and dedicated servers cost a lot.

I’ve spent the last few days wrangling with OpenX for a client and its a great AdServer but its not perfect. The hosted version is slow, the self-hosted version needs upgrading and can be hard to backup because of the database size.

So, with advertising clearly in my sights I was interested to be sent a link to On Pageview Pumping. The “required reading” to get the full story takes a bit of time but its interesting to see that those at the top are as agitated by advertising stats/revenue as those further down the food chain.

Essentially they’re saying that impressions isn’t a good enough measure and we need something else.

I know when I look at the stats for this site I get a large number of hits on a particular search phrase but they don’t stay long. An advertiser wouldn’t get value from those hits, their ads would barely load before the user left.

And then you consider the claims made that the sites are sensationalising their stories (see AIG Asset Sales) just to get impressions.

It must be tough running a media company… on the one hand you have people who want impartial, considered coverage of the days events and you have the rest who appear content with “News of the World” style coverage.

The NZ Herald has links at the bottom of their homepage pointing to the most popular stories, photos etc. When its trash stories that consistently make the list you can’t blame the Herald for thinking thats what people want. I’m consistently disappointed, though, when stories that are little more than free advertising make it into the “A” section. Think Lotto prize pools, Tiger’s dalliances and Hollywood antics.

If you’ve ever had to send a Press Release out you’ll have noted that it is the provocative, juicier releases that get picked up. If you send one that needs to be thought through, or reworked, it won’t get a second look. Journalists have a huge number of story sources to consider and usually don’t have the luxury of investigating every one that catches their eye.

I don’t know the answer to the original question on the reliability of page impressions in measuring advertising success but its good to know that there are experts out there thinking it through.

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