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Saturday, November 26, 2005

The Dreaded "No Referrer"

If you're selling big, bulky items that cost in the hundreds or thousands of dollars -- especially if it's a business-to-business transaction -- you probably know it's impossible to accurately track every sale or lead back to the initial online search that ultimately generated the sale. We can discuss the obvious reasons in the technology and user behavior: cookie deletion, latent purchases, difficulty of tracking phone sales, users with multiple computers, etc.

But for some reason, after doing all that, we go ahead and misinterpret our stats anyway. We still discount or downplay the latency in major purchases. For example, looking at the sales we do have data for, we can see that 90% of our conversions happen within two days. The remaining 10% are spread out over weeks later. Maybe 0.5% happen near the end of our (let's say) 60 day cookie period.

So we take that 0.5% and twist it around to suggest that 99.5% of our sales come in a fairly short time period after the first ad view (even when that makes no intuitive sense). And we stop thinking about the 50% of our conversions that say simply: "no referrer." Are they direct navigations? (If so, why? Who?) Is it a problem with the analytics package?

Plain and simple, I'm convinced a lot of these are latent conversions and word-of-mouth referrals and they are direct navigation.

Throw in a twist. I finally got around to proceeding with the purchase of a bulky $700 item for the office. Because my bookmark was on the office desktop, and not my laptop, I needed to do a search to remember the name of the best company in that space... one that I'd discovered after a bit of research. I immediately saw them in the "blue background" sponsored listings, in 2nd spot. Knowing that spot is probably costing them $2/click, I probably didn't want to cut any further into their $200 profit margin. I had already cost them $4 with previous clicks, after all. So instinctively I opened a new tab and navigated directly to their site. Depending on how sophisticated their analytics is, I became a dreaded "No Referrer" customer.

The original (and subsequent) referrer, beyond a shadow of a doubt, was Google AdWords.

Posted by Andrew | | | Permalink

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Thursday, November 24, 2005

Life's Too Short

Seth reports that a seventy-year old friend of his father's doesn't know what an MP3 is.

That's nothing. I recently talked with with a Googler, approximate age 28, who had never tried an RSS reader, and didn't seem to know what the point of it was. I met with a young (30ish) marketing manager who knew everything, especially when it came to search, analytics, and everything online. Except that she'd never used local search. Never used a comparison shopping engine. (Didn't even know what the latter was.)

Both are in stable condition, with vital signs healthy, and resting comfortably.

But seriously. Maybe it's about time you Web 2.0'ers got over yourselves. 1.5 hasn't yet penetrated. And people are too busy for your "must haves".

Related: Ignoring Useless Information Aids Memory

Posted by Andrew | | | Permalink

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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

A Gaggle of Googles

Google - and the ad platform in particular - has released so many little upgrades, it's going to choke poor blogger. Gary, Jen, John, John, Greg, and ... the others... have duly updated you on some of the major improvements. (I'm offering my commentary shortly to Page Zero Advisor newsletter subscribers.)

What's spooky though is how all of a sudden a bunch of small upgrades have been released seemingly all at once, without being announced. One case in point, it now seems easier to use the geotargeting feature in AdWords for new campaigns. The "radius targeting" now allows you to pull the map around to get the coordinates just right, and it shows your area so you're not guessing (see image at right).

That's one example of a feature that is still vastly underutilized. Most advertisers are barely aware that it exists, let alone understanding the mechanics of techniques that might help them make the most of it.

And did we mention pay-per-call, separate content bidding, an obscure nameless easter egg feature that I don't wish to comment on but would like to thank Google for adding apparently in response to a wish list entry I think I posted long ago at Webmasterworld and SE Watch Forums...

There is much to be thankful for indeed. If you celebrate Thanksgiving, enjoy!

Posted by Andrew | | | Permalink

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Monday, November 21, 2005

Telidon, 25 Years Later

redCity, a Toronto-based local search engine, does a deal with Bell Canada to put local searching at people's fingertips on 60 free Internet kiosks, mostly at the airport. Welcome back, Telidon. :)

Posted by Andrew | | | Permalink

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Sunday, November 20, 2005

Urchin Lurching Ahead: Forced to Close New Registrations

Gary notes that Google Analytics is having to temporarily close new registrations due to heavy demand.

Interesting point that it's a good marketing ploy to "close" something due to "heavy demand," but I can tell you when I tried to access Urchin lately it was deadly slow, and this was for a client who was an earlier paying customer! Part of paying for a service (even if you'll no longer be asked to pay), I assume, is a promise that the service will be available and not swamped by "free" users. I have no trouble believing that Google really needs to take a breath here before they let everyone on the planet sign up. Even for Google, that's a lot of data to process, and a lot of logins at once.

Posted by Andrew | | | Permalink

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Note to Everybody in the Sector


Real-life scribblings from a recent panel on "Internet Search," held in Puget Sound. Apparently one Microsoft employee has concerns!

Posted by Andrew | | | Permalink

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Speaking Engagement

I am speaking at SMX West

Need Solid Advice?        

Google AdWords book


Andrew's book, Winning Results With Google AdWords, (McGraw-Hill, 2nd ed.), is still helping tens of thousands of advertisers cut through the noise and set a solid course for campaign ROI.

And for a glowing review of the pioneering 1st ed. of the book, check out this review, by none other than Google's Matt Cutts.


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