Identifying profitable ads

April 23, 2011 | Filed under: business

I have a problem. It’s the same problem most people selling stuff have. I cannot be sure that my adverts actually work. I can be *pretty* sure they do, but I really would benefit from some hard statistical data. Using technical means to track visitors and sales with cookies has failed me. I tried the google ecommerce tracking stuff, but frankly it was chaos.

One method, used in the newspaper industry, is to use coupons. You print a 10% off coupon on the advert, and then every customer who uses the coupon must have seen the ad (directly or indirectly). This could work, but of course it relies on people actually using the coupon. Because game demos are generally tried, and people play them for hours, if not days, the chances are people forget all about the coupon when buying. I suspect this method is as leaky as any other.

I could mitigate that by removing the game demo link entirely.  This is something I have never done, and am not keen on, but it would be possible.

Another method could involve having a special version of the demo which writes a file to disk. When the full game is first run, it could check for that file, and if found, report to my server that an ad-driven sale took place. Ideally, the demo installer would have the ad-click referer embedded in it somewhere, but at this point things start to get uber-involved.

I’m very interested to know other peoples experiences and tricks. How do you know whether an ad campaign, or a website review or link, or other traffic source is actually generating sales?

8 Responses to “Identifying profitable ads”

  1. K says:

    Put the coupon into the demo, by dynamically adding config files depending on download referer?

  2. John says:

    You could also add the coupon to the Demo in the form of an exit nag screen (without much nag – and more a friendly reminder). If people click on the link within the demo you could have it so that a ticket is sent to yourself every time someone uses that link and successfully makes a purchase… Just one way of doing it… you could probably do this through remote ads as well however it would require more work.

  3. Steve says:

    It sounds like you’re using eCommerce tracking in Google Analytics to track sales. It’s easier to track sales with conversion tracking in the AdWords interface. Have you tried this? If you get this implemented you’ll know exactly which keywords are driving sales and at what cost.

  4. cliffski says:

    The conversions stuff will lose it’s tracking ability if you go from one domain to another, and that happens when people buy my games, because they go to BMTMicro’s website.

  5. Eric says:

    I wouldn’t use coupons. Before customers buy, many of them go searching for coupons. I’d stay away from coupons.

    You could pass a referrer ID to BMTMicro. Don’t they offer tracking?

  6. cliffski says:

    I spent ages trying to get the ecommerce tracking working with BMT and never got anywhere. Googles tech supprot were clueless, like they just walked in off the street. It’ so crap, I’m sure it could all eb fixed in an hour by someone with access to BMTs site, my site and googles analytics mess.

  7. Kalle says:

    A game copying tracking files on my computer is something I object to as a consumer. I can understand the appeal of such schemes for a game producer, but especially for a product aimed for a rather geeky audience wouldn’t go for it.

  8. niko says:

    Use conversion tracking, and after purchasing process has finished on your ecommerce partner site, redirect to a thank-you site on your domain, with the tracking thing embedded.