Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×

(Mis)Tracking Web Traffic 121

PreacherTom writes "Online advertising is considered by many to be the most dependably trackable ad medium of all time, with revenues expected to grow to $16 billion in this year alone. However, companies are finding that competing methods of measuring web traffic are giving contradictory results. Since advertising revenues are based directly on the traffic developed, this news could mean serious trouble. For example, valuations for startups such as Facebook and YouTube appear to be doubling every few months, but those numbers are based on traffic figures that could be misleading."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

(Mis)Tracking Web Traffic

Comments Filter:
  • by dada21 ( 163177 ) * <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Tuesday October 17, 2006 @01:03PM (#16473127) Homepage Journal
    I'm not sure it matters. I advertise my own businesses on the web, and I accept advertising on my sites. I've sold numerous ads just for my site for repeat customers who realize I give them more than they pay out of supporting my site. I support some sites repeatedly because those sites make me a profit for what I invest.

    If you're a big company, you gauge your profits NOT on what others say but what you actually witness through numbers paid and profits made. If you don't make a profit, the traffic reports mean NOTHING. If you make MORE profits than you were expecting, the traffic reports mean NOTHING.

    Most advertisers already know this. If they're complaining about false traffic statements, they're not working hard enough. They basically are trying to automate something that still needs human intervention -- for now.

    Facebook and MySpace and YouTube are terrible places to advertise, in my experience. The visitors you get are completely worthless (in my businesses) because they don't convert to sales. On the other hand, that whole "long tail" idea works for me -- I advertise on the smallest blogs, the tiniest forums, the most niche communities, and those consumers thank me for supporting their communities by buying my products and services. I look at the traffic figures of the largest sites and realize "These numbers do not tell the truth about convertibility."

    My link below takes you to my sites, and some slashdot readers say I am a spamming troll. I'm not. MOST slashdot readers who come back to my sites already block my ads (as I request that they do!). I post my links for a different kind of profit -- the profit of gained information my my readers and sharers, including those who oppose my views. The ads on my sites are for people who find me via search engines, who are looking for products, and who get those products from the advertisers. The advertisers who target me directly aren't concerned that I only have an Alexa rank of 200,000-400,000 and a PageRank of 5-6. They care about my targetted market, people who are interested in what I talk about, and what my ads sell.

    My advertisers (and readers) are also free to look at my site statistics (sitemeter is open on my sites). This tells them who is coming -- google searches, not MySpace losers. This makes my sites more valuable to products that are in-line with what I "preach" daily.

    General traffic figures are useless.
    • I advertise on the smallest blogs, the tiniest forums, the most niche communities, and those consumers thank me for supporting their communities by buying my products and services.

      followed by

      and some slashdot readers say I am a spamming troll. I'm not. MOST slashdot readers who come back to my sites already block my ads (as I request that they do!).

      That's some thanks!!

      General /. comments are useless, especially when they are ADS hidden by "useful" comments.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      I told you a million times and I will tel you again. There is a fraction of real customers that corresponds to unique IPs. And cookies are not reliable. Check out my study [ultramax-music.com], which is almost complete at this point. Results would be available next week.
    • by pandrijeczko ( 588093 ) on Tuesday October 17, 2006 @01:32PM (#16473665)
      'm not sure it matters. I advertise my own businesses on the web, and I accept advertising on my sites. I've sold numerous ads just for my site for repeat customers who realize I give them more than they pay out of supporting my site. I support some sites repeatedly because those sites make me a profit for what I invest. If you're a big company, you gauge your profits NOT on what others say but what you actually witness through numbers paid and profits made. If you don't make a profit, the traffic reports mean NOTHING. If you make MORE profits than you were expecting, the traffic reports mean NOTHING.

      Whoa! Slow down there, cowpoke! Ya lost me frum dat big ol' word "matters". Ya ought'a remember most of us here simple Slashdot townsfolk be simple code farmers a-tinkering with dem der machines till da cows come home. Why, we even has us a good hearty laugh at dem words "Microsoft Works".

    • by spun ( 1352 ) <[moc.oohay] [ta] [yranoituloverevol]> on Tuesday October 17, 2006 @01:50PM (#16473925) Journal
      You said: If you're a big company, you gauge your profits NOT on what others say but what you actually witness through numbers paid and profits made. If you don't make a profit, the traffic reports mean NOTHING. If you make MORE profits than you were expecting, the traffic reports mean NOTHING.

      Great. Now, how do you measure profits made from advertising, because as I understand it, that is the issue under discussion here. You have taken the problem and restated it without adding anything of value to the discussion. I think you must not have read the article. How do you measure profits accruing from one advertising source over another? If you have some new and better way of doing that, you could make a million. If you don't, well, you have added nothing to the discussion except to restate the problem.

      Sorry if that sounds harsh, I don't mean it to.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by HarvardAce ( 771954 )
        Now, how do you measure profits made from advertising, because as I understand it, that is the issue under discussion here.

        Determining the profit from a particular advertisement is actually quite easy in the online world. You can give each advertisement its own identifier and track the visitors from a particular advertisement and see how they relate to your sales. This is not perfect -- some people will have cookies turned off or will come back later, and perhaps some of these customers would have come

        • What about click fraud? But yes, the real issue is determining the value of a potential advertisement, which is determined by traffic to a proposed advertising site. So, why did Dada get marked as insightful? He, as I mentioned, said nothing of use. I'm sure his answer would be something along the lines of "The free market fixes everything!"

          Perhaps advertising cooperatives like the almond growers [wikipedia.org] have, run by the advertisers, freely sharing information about potential ad sites would work. There we are, fre
          • What about click fraud?

            If you are only looking at actual sales, then click fraud is not an issue. This of course won't work if you aren't selling anything or if your income isn't predominantly from selling goods or services (for example, if you advertise your site and your site's source of income is also advertisements), which unfortuantely would describe a large portion of advertisers today.

            • by spun ( 1352 )
              What if you are paying for advertisements on a per click basis? That's how a lot of places do it. Are you saying not to advertise on those sites?

              Of course if you are paying X amount of money for an ad, and that ad generates a verifiable Y amount of sales, and Y is less than X, then ditch the ad. Duh. How about telling us how not to get into that situation in the first place, as the article is trying to do?

              In print publishing, you know what a publication's circulation is, and most reputable publications can
              • Of course if you are paying X amount of money for an ad, and that ad generates a verifiable Y amount of sales, and Y is less than X, then ditch the ad. Duh. How about telling us how not to get into that situation in the first place, as the article is trying to do?

                This was exactly my point. The article was talking about how to determine the value of a particular advertisement before you made it or the overall value of a company. However, your original comment included:

                Now, how do you measure profits mad

                • by spun ( 1352 )
                  Grrr. That was what I meant to say. Damn you brain, you've failed me for the last time!
          • Funny how the most efficient free market solutions end up looking a lot like socialism. Only not enforced by an external agency, of course.

            Why, no, it's not funny at all. The key difference has nothing to do with the solutions and everything to do with the enforced part.

            Handing a dollar bill to a total stranger on the street because he needs help looks like a personal kindness. Doing it because he's holding a gun on me looks like robbery. Doing it because a third party is holding the gun looks like either

            • by spun ( 1352 )
              Well, geez, why did you think I put that last part in there? As an Anarcho-Syndicalist, I think holding a (perhaps metaphorical) gun to someone's head is not an ethical option. But withdrawal of the reward of membership in the group is.

              It seems to me that private ownership of natural resources can only be accomplished with a gun, and that's why I'm an Anarcho-Syndicalist, not an Anarcho-Capitalist like Dada. Private ownerhsip of natural resources is theft, enforced by an external agency through the threat o
      • Great. Now, how do you measure profits made from advertising, because as I understand it, that is the issue under discussion here.

        The same way businesses always have. This is not a new problem. How do businesses determine how effective an add in a newpaper or magazine is? What about TV? Yes, there's circulation numbers and viewer numbers, but those don't guarantee that any of those people looked at the ads. The parent's point is still valid. The only thing that matters is the bottom line.

        So how

        • by spun ( 1352 )
          Saying that advertising is about the bottom line is about as helpful as saying that breathing is about inhaling, then exhaling. The question is, how do you determine what a particular ad on a particular site is worth? The original post says nothing about that, yet that is what the article is about.

          How do you determine, before placing an ad, whether that ad is worth what the site is asking?
          • Well the article I read seemed to be mostly outlining how the web numbers are inaccurate and then tossed in a few examples of how people are trying to fix that. There wasn't a lot of discussion on determining worth.

            In your original post you ask how to measure profits (note the title). I made a couple of suggestion in my post. I now see from your new post that you don't really want to measure profits, you want to predict profits. My answer to that question is that you don't. At least not accurately.
        • Great. Now, how do you measure profits made from advertising, because as I understand it, that is the issue under discussion here.

          The same way businesses always have. This is not a new problem.

          Actually the comparison between traditional media and the 'net is rather awkward. There is a much more predictable connection between particular markets and particular advertising channels in the traditional media. You spend X dollars on an ad in magazine Y and you can expect Z dollars revenue -- plus/minus seas

          • by Confused ( 34234 )


            But run an ad on a website for a month and the result is a lot less predictable. Maybe you'll see a correlation with revenue. Maybe not.

            On the web it's exactly the same. If you can't find a correlation between the desired results (sales, diverted traffic, whatever) and the ad, then it isn't effective. There's no reason the web should have some special secret multiplier added because it might create some buzz about you. What works for the web is exactly the same way for ads in busses, newspapers or radio.

    • by Rich0 ( 548339 )
      How is an advertiser to determine whether an advertisement is working? By your standards TV advertising is worthless, as nobody clicks through the ads and buys anything.

      An ad on youtube has value even if NOBODY EVER clicks on it. The ad is still seen my millions of people, and those people are more likely to buy a particular product when they're out in the real world.

      There is more to advertising than click-throughs.
  • by mmell ( 832646 ) <mike.mell@gmail.com> on Tuesday October 17, 2006 @01:05PM (#16473157)
    Of course internet traffic can reliably be measured, but the actual amount of content ever making it past human eyeballs can't (do the words "adblock" and "clickfraud" ring any bells?).

    Then again, who cares if the marketing drones of the world want to live in a fool's paradise? That's exactly where they belong!

    Oh, and BTW - FIRST POST!

    • This is what I was thinking. It's just that the signs of this happening are as clear as they are present. Are we the first ones to notice this? No. But it is clear that it is happening and will continue to happen.
    • by wibs ( 696528 )
      This is old news for anyone working on the web, and unfortunately news that hasn't changed much. There are developments and new ways of tracking coming up all the time, like tracking unique vs repeating viewers, average time spent on a page, how a viewer got to a page and where they went to from it, etc etc etc. Some methods come in and out of vogue, and some are thrown out entirely - nobody talks about "hits" anymore.

      The problem is that none of these tracking methods are really all that great when viewed o
  • Lies, Damn lies? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ackthpt ( 218170 ) * on Tuesday October 17, 2006 @01:05PM (#16473163) Homepage Journal

    It seems every FM station used to claim on the air they were the number one station. They always clipped the bit which should have continued, "in male age group 20 to 25, we suck hind tit in all others."

    With fake clicks and hijacking by mal/spy-ware, I'd be hard pressed to believe anything other than actual sales figures and even then with the hijacking the question is, 'who's ad led to the sale?'

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TubeSteak ( 669689 )

      In June, Sternberg [of Meebo] invited comScore's [site tracking company] researchers to his Palo Alto (Calif.) office to look at his company's server logs. "Here is our data, and here is your data. Something is wrong!" he told them, to no avail. Sternberg and his co-founders have thrown up their hands and have decided to publicly disclose all their internal numbers. One thing they're counting on is that people will take into account the amount of time members spend on the service.

      In a perfectly competitive

    • I take my web stats with a grain of salt. Since I have a music download site, I generally can count the number of humanoids by the number of downloads of my free mp3 or counts of some of the other page accesses. Even those numbers are suspect, as some of the bots seem to traverse more of the site than others.

      So whaddayou lookin at? Go download your free mp3...

      http://www.bitworksmusic.com/ [bitworksmusic.com]

    • Radio?

      In don't see how any marketer is going to figure out from which radio station, hour of the day, etc., I heard of their product when I go to the store and initiate a purchase, but I know they can tell where I came from when I actually do an online purchase.

      I think the whole debate has to do with how they charge for "viewership" as opposed to "referred sales" and thus tracking would be very important.
      • by plover ( 150551 ) *
        You can hear their "tracking mechanism" on the radio, if you're paying attention.

        "The WBBY news is brought to you by Yoyodyne, makers of Gnomovision. Visit us online at www.yoyodyne.com-slash-wbby".

        Not that WBBY has anything to do with the content they'll deliver to you, but it has everything to do with tracking visitors referred from their station. If you're lucky, the referrer cookie they drop on your browser might offer you a discount on your purchase.

        They'll do anything they can to differentiat

    • by mianne ( 965568 )

      It's actually quite trivial to determine which ad(s) brought in which sales.

      You can use cookies, referring pages (very useful for picking up on specific search terms), separate entry pages for different accounts, etc.

      So your widget business gets 30000 hits through GoogleAds but only 18 sales, your conversion rate is statistically nil. All is not lost though, you can look up what queries brought those visitors who became buyers. With such a small sample, this may not be of much use.

      What would be extr

  • What?!? (Score:2, Funny)

    by vancondo ( 986849 )
    Do my eye's decieve me? You used the words 'misleading' and 'advertising' in the same writeup. Surely those words don't belong together!

    --
    Vancouver housing sucks [vancouvercondo.info]
  • As Benjamin Disraeli (or Mark Twain, or was it Lord Courtney? who knows... [btwebworld.com]) might have said: "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, and web analytics."
  • Huh? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Tarlus ( 1000874 ) on Tuesday October 17, 2006 @01:11PM (#16473283)
    How is this "serious trouble"? Not to be a troll or anything, but why does it matter that much if web advertisers have inaccurate figures on their incoming traffic? Especially in a world that readily embraces advertisement and popup blockers?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      It's serious trouble for the ad companies, as they suddenly realize their trade has nowhere near as much effect in the civilized world as their business plan requires. How would you like to find out that your customers aren't getting what they pay you for, thanks to more and more people specifically filtering out your work when using the Internet? Time to search the want-ads.
      • by trongey ( 21550 )
        ...How would you like to find out that your customers aren't getting what they pay you for...

        You mean like when you wake up every morning?
        When was the last time any company bigger than a mom-and-pop even gave a thought to customers getting what they pay for? Well, OK, occasionally they think about that, then quickly move to either raise the price or remove something from the product.
    • by plover ( 150551 ) *

      a world that readily embraces advertisement and popup blockers

      This qualifies as a different world. Sure, most of the slashdottians block ads, but we're hardly representative of "the world." When it comes down to it, half the sheeple don't have the ability to change their browser's home page, let alone install an adblocking piece of software, not to mention configuring it to the point of effectiveness.

      However, I still agree with you that it's nowhere near "serious" trouble. Their statistics are accu

  • by mattwarden ( 699984 ) on Tuesday October 17, 2006 @01:15PM (#16473383) Homepage
    Facebook is a poor example, because their advertising model makes no sense to begin with. You pay a fixed price for rotation on a particular day, but you have absolutely no idea whether that will be 1 impression or 1 million impressions. It all depends on how many other people pay for that particular day. Given this, the amount of traffic the site receives doesn't really impact the value of an advertising dollar as much the number of advertisers for that day does.
    • by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Tuesday October 17, 2006 @01:24PM (#16473555) Journal
      Actually, FaceBook kinda garauntees a minimum number of ad rotations.

      It is 2,500 for large schools or "you are targeting a small school where there may not be enough people or traffic to display your Flyer 2,500 times a day. In this case, we will display your Flyer as many times as we possibly can."

      If you're a registered user, I think it's something like 10,000 impressions a day, with the same caveat as above.
      • That is just based on an estimate, using average impressions/day and average advertisers/day. My point is that you are not buying a fixed percentage in a rotation or a number of impressions. You are buying an equal-weight spot in a rotation with unknown size.

        Let's say I have a bag of candy and I offer you an equal share in the bag for 15 cents. You don't know how many pieces are in the bag, and you don't know how many ways I'm going to split it up. How can you possibly decide whether it is worth it?

        I then t
        • So what about the percentage? You price per view, straight up. That's all there is to it. I'd think that advertisers would like this, as there's a certainty about it. What if your site fluctuates between 20000 and 10000 unique visitors a day, 15000 average. With the Facebook example, each way you get 2500 impressions, period. With a percentage, you get between, say, 3333 and 1666 impressions for the same price, with uncertainty.
          • Wrong. Unless they have changed their policies, they do not at all sell a certain number of impressions. Did you read any of my two comments before snapping back? I guess you're just trying to fit in here...
        • Let's say I have a bag of candy and I offer you an equal share in the bag for 15 cents. You don't know how many pieces are in the bag, and you don't know how many ways I'm going to split it up. How can you possibly decide whether it is worth it?

          Because you have trends to look at in the past. If your candy situation is similar to Facebook flyers, then you could say with confidence that the bag averages 100 pieces, 10 people on average share the bag, and a piece of candy is worth 3 cents to you. In that c

          • As far as I can tell, Facebook does not make this data available. So, again, you're just guessing.
            • As far as I can tell, Facebook does not make this data available. So, again, you're just guessing.

              This data is available, it just isn't presented very well. At any time you can view a list of all active flyers for your network, so if you do it over the course of a week or two you can get a pretty accurate idea of the average number of flyers active at a particular time. You also would likely have an idea of when peak times are (right before finals, spring break, after midterms, etc.) and could make reas

              • Who says I am a member of Facebook? I just want to advertise there. Can I even become a member of Facebook?
                • Who says I am a member of Facebook? I just want to advertise there. Can I even become a member of Facebook?

                  IIRC, you must be a member of a network if you want to purchase a flyer for that network. Knowing several members of the Facebook team including Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's goal in offering flyers was to offer a cheap way for students and student groups to advertise events and services that they offer.

                  Obviously the scope and focus of Facebook has expanded considerably since it was founded, but Mark

                  • No, that is not correct. You can post flyers on any school's network.

                    Even if that were true, it still provides no reason to use the model they were using, except that they do not want to cap off the amount of ad money they can make on a given day. Unfortunately, that means the more money they make in a day, the less value each advertiser has.

                    Anyway, this discussion is moot because FB has since changed their policies according to another thread. I guess they realized it was a dumb model, too.
                    • Anyway, this discussion is moot because FB has since changed their policies according to another thread. I guess they realized it was a dumb model, too.

                      Looks like we both discovered this around the same time. I think they realized, as you have been arguing, that the model is no longer as reliable as it used to be when the number of people who purchased flyers was very low. I also believe this is because Facebook sometimes displays national or regional ads in the Flyer position now, and I would argue tha

    • Facebook is a poor example, because their advertising model makes no sense to begin with. You pay a fixed price for rotation on a particular day, but you have absolutely no idea whether that will be 1 impression or 1 million impressions.

      This form of advertising on Facebook (flyers) is just one of the many ways to advertise on the site, and the vast majority of these ads are placed by students, student groups, or local businesses. For my networks there are rarely more than 6-7 of these ads up at any give

      • You're missing the point. It still happens to work because not many advertisers use it per day. The fact that it still works is not a result of the system, which still makes no sense; it's the result of underutilized capacity.

        If you use my bag of candy example elsewhere in this thread, if you get a good deal because only 2 other people want a share of the candy, that means you got lucky. It doesn't mean that you made a good decision from a cost-benefit point of view, which is nearly impossible to do with a
        • You're missing the point. It still happens to work because not many advertisers use it per day. The fact that it still works is not a result of the system, which still makes no sense; it's the result of underutilized capacity.

          But that is exactly the point. It works because of the boundaries set by the system's current use. Let's assume that a particular network gets 3,000 unique visitors per day and the median number of hits per visitor is 10. This would be fairly accurate numbers for a network of arou

          • Super Bowl advertisers buy a specified amount of time. This is equivalent to a banner ad program that allows advertisers to buy a specified percentage of impressions. I'd like to see the Super Bowl try to get advertisers to pay for an equal 1/n share of advertising time which will equate to an unknown number of seconds depending upon the total number of advertisers (but we can give you historical stats!).
        • You're missing the point.

          Perhaps I was missing your point. If your point is that you don't know how many impressions you will get for a particular amount of money, then yes, you're absolutely correct. It could be that Day 1 you pay $10 and get 1,000 impressions, and Day 2 you pay $10 and get 3,000. However, the point you seem to be making is that you're not sure if you're going to get a good deal (which is reinforced by your candy bag example), and my counter-point to you is that even if you assume wor

          • I really don't know how you could possibly make a generalization like that. Are you familiar with what goes into an analysis on where to spend advertising dollars? You seem to making the argument that it is such a "duh" decision that no one needs to do any actual analysis on it. The statistical argument you suggested is obvious and certainly provides some marginal insight, but there is a lot more to it, like comparing advertising investment to benefit ratios of different advertising alternatives. $1 spent a
            • I really don't know how you could possibly make a generalization like that. Are you familiar with what goes into an analysis on where to spend advertising dollars? You seem to making the argument that it is such a "duh" decision that no one needs to do any actual analysis on it.

              Because the students/groups that purchase these flyers are doing exactly that. Do you think these groups have advertising wings that go into intense details on the dollars that are spent on their advertising budget? Even at Harva

              • My comments are in the context of the original article, which is not talking about students. Anyway, just because most students might decide not to do such analysis, again, doesn't make the model any more sensible. Intelligent businesspeople who are interested in an actual advertising campaign would want to do such analysis, and it's not possible with Facebook's model.

                Thanks.
                • My comments are in the context of the original article, which is not talking about students. Anyway, just because most students might decide not to do such analysis, again, doesn't make the model any more sensible. Intelligent businesspeople who are interested in an actual advertising campaign would want to do such analysis, and it's not possible with Facebook's model.

                  I will agree with you -- Facebook's flyers is not a good example in the context of the original article for precisely the reasons we have d

                • And all of this is moot because a Facebook flyer now is $5 for 2,500 views except in cases where the school is too small to reliably give you 2,500 views.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Just a thought :).
  • So you have to factor that into account for the amount of "hits" that you're getting. If that's your metric.

    [this is a repeat comment of mine from similar story. to do: make a list of repeated "insightful" comments from myself and others, such as 'ISP egress filtering for valid source ip addresses']
  • by pandrijeczko ( 588093 ) on Tuesday October 17, 2006 @01:25PM (#16473565)
    ...web site traffic monitoring can give inaccurate results meaning that a few greedy rich people will potentially lose a whole heap of money, go into shock and die from massive coronaries...

    So what's there to fix?

    • Doesn't matter if the inaccuracy is consistant. These guys are in trouble because they are trying to measure something as an absolute in an area where approximate is the best they can hope for. Here how you avoid this problem, when you want to hire someone for your marketing dept, say something like "Successful candidates will have passed a 200 level sociology and or a statistics course from the math dept." That will weed out the pretenders who flunked out of graphic arts program and switched to advertisin
  • by radarsat1 ( 786772 ) on Tuesday October 17, 2006 @01:30PM (#16473637) Homepage
    So who the hell is actually clicking on all these online advertisements?
    Who is actually responding to and buying things from spam emails?

    I just don't understand how these kinds of things can be profitable, given that I've never met anyone dumb enough to fall for them. I certainly have almost NEVER seen an internet ad and said, "hey that's just what I'm looking for! CLICK."

    I mean, I understand that it has value in the sense that it puts logos in front of peoples faces and reminds them about products and such, but where is the direct value in online advertising? No one honestly clicks on website ads on purpose.
    • by dada21 ( 163177 ) *
      I do.

      I run ad-block for all sites, except those I visit regularly. I try to focus my purchases around buying from advertisers who are sponsoring the sites I like. I've bought web hosting through a slashdot link, gold from a gold blog link (not mine!), clothes from a Bluefly link on a site I read daily, etc.

      Most advertising is garbage, but it still helps keep the small sites afloat. I rarely read large sites (slashdot got big since I signed on), but I do read a lot of small sites, and I make sure to buy f
    • by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Tuesday October 17, 2006 @01:41PM (#16473801)
      Alright, I admit it... once... just once... I punched the monkey.
      • The monkey deserved it... provoking you and all... just like the women in those mate1 ads. I can't help but click on those -- only to realize that I don't get THAT woman by clicking on the ad! I think it's time to call them out for false advertising! :-)
      • Me too. It was only one time. It meant nothing to me, I swear!
      • by trongey ( 21550 )
        Alright, I admit it... once... just once... I punched the monkey.

        Me, too, but while I was at it I beat the living crap out of him. OK, so it only registered as a single click, but I felt better.
    • by jfengel ( 409917 ) on Tuesday October 17, 2006 @01:46PM (#16473865) Homepage Journal
      There's a difference between the people clicking on spam emails and people clicking on online ads.

      If you're buying stuff from spam, then you're intolerably stupid. There's certainly good money to be made from marketing to the intolerably stupid, but that money isn't supporting anyhing I care about.

      Online advertising, on the other hand, often supports web sites that are providing value to you. There are all sorts of reasons for non-stupid people to click on them.

      * Clicking provides financial support to a web site (like Slashdot) that you like.

      * Because the ads are targeted to a subject you are interested in (because you visited the web site), there's at least a chance you want the product. It may be a wine press advertised on a wine-brewing web site, or a new bit of hardware on Slashdot, but the link is in front of you and it's easier to click on the thing than to go search for it. (Even if you don't click, you've now heard of it, and when you decide to spend some money it'll be one of the things in your mind.)

      * More recently, they have ways of advertising geographically. If it's a restaurant you might like or a shoe store, you'd have to find out where it is, and you might as well click through the link. Again, it's faster than a separate search, and better targeted than spam.

      Obviously this isn't an immense boon, but it is a small one, and if the ads themselves aren't obnoxious, it doesn't hurt to encourage it. I'd never, ever, ever click on a Flash ad or an animated-gif ad, because I don't want to encourage it. But if a polite text ad helps keep some site up and running, it costs me nothing and profits both the web site and the store.
      • Two more:

        1. Political or ads with an agenda - if you are paying to get a slogan or link into my email sidebar that is matching keywords in one of my messages, the clickthrough probably isn't what's important. Example - I had a link to paypalsucks come up after I got a phishing message in Gmail. That's handy - what if I was someone encountering something like that for the first time?

        2. Ads that aggregate info = like Gmail's package tracking and address mapping. Now I'm on the correct page at UPS in
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by ljw1004 ( 764174 )
        "if a polite ad helps keep some site up and running, it costs me nothing."

        So where does the ad money doesn't come, do you think? In 1999, spending in the US on advertising was about $6000 per capita. We ourselves are spending all this money, in the form of inflated product prices, to subject ourselves to the ads. How much of that money trickles into the websites we wish to support? I don't know, but I bet it's only a tiny fraction.
    • by greed ( 112493 )

      The few times an ad has come up for something I did want, it turned out that it could only be sold to persons in the United States. No shipping to Canada.

      So I just block the lot, now, what's the point in wasting my time?

    • by drew ( 2081 )
      Long ago, I found my first DSL service through an ad on Slashdot. I've probably clicked on a handful of thinkgeek ads over the years, although I admit I haven't ever bought much there. For a while I would click on hosting ads somewhat regularly- I wasn't actively looking for a new provider, but I was curious to see how they compared to the service I had.

      I don't mind ads if they aren't obnoxious and don't get in the way of what I am trying to read. I do tend to ignore them unless they are for something t
    • A few years ago my little brother in junior high (or around there) was just starting to learn how to use the internet, and he was researching papers and stuff. He had to call me for help because he didn't know where his webpage had gone. Turns out he had gotten one of those ads that looks like a dialog box and had clicked it thinking it was one, and then didn't realize that it had caused his browser to navigate away.
    • I just don't understand how these kinds of things can be profitable, given that I've never met anyone dumb enough to fall for them. I certainly have almost NEVER... (Emphasis mine)

      This is EXACTLY how they are profitable. Multiply almost never by a ton of ad views and you've got yourself a profitable business. The exact same thing is true for spam advertisements -- except that it's a lot closer to never but it also gets many orders of magnitude more "hits" than a traditional website. The biggest goal in

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by HarvardAce ( 771954 )
      I just don't understand how these kinds of things can be profitable

      It can be quite unbelievable, and it applies to more than just online advertisements. It's hard to believe that a $2.5 million advertisement during the Super Bowl is profitable, but I trust that the companies that buy these spots have done their research and it is actually profitable. Overall Anheuser-Busch spent $850 million on advertisements in 2005. While not all of that is advertising beer (they have a few amusement parks for exampl

      • ...about how profitable news manipulation is for governments and large corporations who influence governments and own the news media (among their other investments). People will say it doesn't work on them, but in the long run and for enough people, it obviously does.

        It's like they go out of their way to call it advertising, but if truth be told, all of it is some form of brainwashing/psycyhological influence.
    • So who the hell is actually clicking on all these online advertisements?

      Many others have pointed it out (and I'll second them): If I'm in the market for a XYZ-gizmo and I visit a website that I like an they have an ad for someone that sells XYZ-gizmos then I think it is only fair to click that ad and make the purchase through that vendor. The gizom is the same wherever I buy it, but in this way there's a dime or two that'll flow to the website as income. Speaking as someone who's paying for 5GB of traffi

      • by bit01 ( 644603 )

        Don't think that every dollar spent on advertising has to show up in next months bank statement as revenue...

        The vast majority of modern marketing is a cost, not a benefit, and benefits nobody but the parasitic marketing industry. An arms race with the marketing industry being the arms dealers.

        The examples you give are all contrived in that you make the automatic assumption that anybody who has the money to advertise automatically deserves the right to have a louder voice, drowning out alternatives.

  • 'Contradictory' (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    They are really giving 'inconsistent' results. 'Contradictory' is a much more specific term.

    The interpretations of two of the sets of results might be contradictory, but the results themselves are only inconsistent.
  • The most reliable form of web traffic measurement is reported ad impressions from a reputable 3rd party like DoubleClick. They do a fine job of eliminating bots and spiders (unlike log files) and only meaure an impression once an ad is served. Eliminate pop-ups and unders (which our sites do not take) and one can get a true measurement of traffic. If you have on average 2 ads per page on your site and monthly ad impressions served is 100,000, then you have 50,000 monthly page views. Sure you are still in e
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Sure... meanwhile, anyone else here have doubleclick blocked by NoScript / hosts file / firewall / cookie filter / etc. ? I'm an aggressive whitelister of good sites, and those of course are free to advertise directly to me, but I can guaran-fucken-TEE that doubleclick don't get to see that ad impression. I will let certain people advertise to me direct but I will NOT become an entry in a third-party's database.
  • this takes me back (Score:3, Interesting)

    by xoundmind ( 932373 ) on Tuesday October 17, 2006 @02:08PM (#16474281)
    Remember the horrible old days when Webalizer stats were being misinterpreted wholesale? I inherited the primary coding responsibilities for a large consumer health site. It was about 10,000 static html pages and the site relied on Webalizer "hits" for years. Even reported them as such to the large pharmaceutical companies that sponsored the site. After we converted the site to being MySQL driven and actual page views were accurately recorded, the sponsors, editors and project managers FLIPPED. Like it it was the programmers fault that they had been so stupid all of those years....and perhaps acting fraudulently towards the advertisers. Mercifully, I worked on other angles than stats, but the other programmer caught hell for a year.
    I'm sure others in the audience have similar horror stories.
  • my live is swamped with advertising, on television, radio, roadside bill boards, on the sides of buildings, in the various stores i shop at, etc...

    with the above paragraph so plainly true dont you think it would be natural for users with the knowledge to set up their web browsers to block as much advertising and web bugs as possible? (i think so and i did so)...
    • my live is swamped with advertising, on television, radio, roadside bill boards, on the sides of buildings, in the various stores i shop at, etc...

      with the above paragraph so plainly true dont you think it would be natural for users with the knowledge to set up their web browsers to block as much advertising and web bugs as possible? (i think so and i did so)...


      Except... when you visit a topical web site that's providing information or content that's very specific to your tastes, the odds now are the
      • by bit01 ( 644603 )

        It's part of what allows that content to be there for you in the first place.

        No, it pays for nothing. Instead, it's paying twice over. Once in time/attention to watch/avoid the ad, twice in increased price of the product to pay for the ad. Those advertising industry salaries don't come from nowhere.

        I prefer to pay for my content directly rather than paying for an advertising middlemen that are actually subtracting value and hiding market signals. Massively subtracting value in the case of network TV,

  • Nothing new (Score:2, Interesting)

    by cronian ( 322433 )
    Web advertising statistics have been manipulated and misleading since the beginning of the dot com era. While the internet advertising makes it easier to track usage statistics more accurately, site owners have strong incentive to lie. Furthermore, 1000 impressions != 1000 impressions.

    There are lots of different tricks. If you selling by the impression, you can move the ad to a less visible spot on the page. You can also commit outright fraud, and just release the wrong numbers. As we've seen, clicks can be
  • When people advertise they don't expect, well shouldn't expect, people to rush to the website/ place of bussness and buy what they are selling.

    For example when McDonalds shows a TV ad they don't expect people to drop whatever they are doing and rush to buy a Bigmac. What they are aiming for is people to think about McDonalds when they are actualy shoping for fastfood.

    The same is true if web ads, for example the dice.com ad at the top of this page isn't hoping that when people see the ad that they quit their
  • I haven't seen one in months. Thanks to Firefox and AdBlock Plus. All these advertising types who want to turn the web into a bunch of TV channels can go pound salt as far as I'm concerned. Ads? Block early and block often.
  • by Thaelon ( 250687 )
    How many shards is Warhammer Online going to have?

    One, like EVE Online [eve-online.com], or eleventy bajillion, like World of Warcraft [worldofwarcraft.com]?

    Side rant for /.ers:

    I don't like the fact that WoW is called a Massively Multiplayer ORPG when it's got tons servers. Not one massive one. So it's very difficult to play with your friends if they started on server Y and you started on server X and you're not allowed to transfer your character to their server, and they're unwillling to play on yours - or some other scenario. Whereas EVE has
  • This is the same issue that direct marketers have dealt with for years, just in a new outfit. Unless you can track down to "paid-for sales", and then accurately derive the total value of that sale (after all the associated costs of making the sale, advertising included), you know *nothing* about the effectiveness of your advertising. After 20 years of experience with so-called marketing experts, I can say for certain that most do not put in the effort to know what marketing is working for them, and what i

Never say you know a man until you have divided an inheritance with him.

Working...