The basis of PPC advertising is clean, reliable data. Profit maximisation is impossible if the click and conversion data are not as reliable as possible. This sounds ludicrously facile and self-explanatory. But as soon as you take a closer look, it is evident that collecting reliable data isn’t at all easy.
The process of identifying a suitable tracking solution is crucial for any company that heavily relies on PPC advertising. The following detailing may help you to identify the right solution for your company.
How are data collected?
- Cookies: Most tracking tools still rely on HTTP cookies. As every modern browser comes with options that, for instance, permit the blocking of third party cookies and the deletion of new cookies upon closing the browser, a significant quantum of sales cannot be assigned correctly (between 20% and 40% of all Internet users block cookies or delete them regularly).
- Referrers: By analysing your referrers, you can see exactly where your client came from before making a purchase – no matter which browser options s/he may have selected. However, you can only assign sales to clicks (and PPC costs) when the purchase occurs within a user session directly after the client has clicked on your PPC ad.
- Device fingerprinting and canvas fingerprinting: Device, software and browser settings are virtually unique – so why not use them for tracking purposes? Fingerprints can be used to identify a user without the need for cookies.
- Flash cookies and other “super cookies”: Flash cookies are an alternative to HTTP cookies that few users will ever delete. However, the use of Flash cookies is legally restricted in many countries (including the US and all EU countries), so be sure to double-check local regulations before implementing any tracking solutions based on Flash cookies.
- IP address: In some cases, the IP address may help to recognise cross-browser conversions and even cross-device conversions.
How accurate are the collected data?
Data tracking and data accuracy are often limited by factors other than the tracking tool. It is important that decision-makers are aware of this and that efforts are made to improve company culture and company processes that are crucial for data accuracy.
Tracking features and individualisation
Depending on your business goals and your business sector, the tracking features that are required may vary greatly. If you run an online shop and want to track your PPC campaigns, you might consider the following features to be important:
- Tracking specific to product level
- Real-time tracking of returns and cancellations
- New customer tracking
- Telephone tracking
- Multi-channel tracking to allow flow analysis of goals and funnels
In their advertising strategies, many tracking solutions focus on sophisticated reporting. Reporting and graphical preparation are, of course, essential for any tracking solution. However, even the most sophisticated reporting formats cannot show data that have not been collected or that have been collected inaccurately. Also, keep in mind that – given that your tracking tool comes with an export interface – you can connect it to any other tool to get the desired chart or reporting format.
Less is more
What many companies forget on their way to the perfect tracking tool: Try to identify the tracking solution that is as slim as it can possibly be! There is no need to collect data that nobody will ever look at or to pay dearly for a supposed category must-have if you can get the same solution for a lower price – or even for free.
Other important criteria
The following aspects are very important as well, but pretty much self-explanatory:
- Data security & backup solutions
- Connectivity (import & export interfaces)
- Avinash Kaushik wrote an interesting article on how to choose a Web analytics tool. Even though a PPC tracking tool is not the same as a Web analytics tool, you may nevertheless find the article helpful.
- The 20 Most Promising Data Analytics Companies selected by the tech magazine CIO Review.