What If (First Party Data Told You) Everything You Thought About Online Advertising is Wrong

August 20th, 2012

Now that we have a few months and over a billion ad match decisions on referrer data at Yieldbot we’re seeing some very interesting performance results. Segmenting performance metrics by referrer source has always been 101 for e-commerce but amazingly has rarely if ever been capably measured/optimized for web publisher monetization. However, referrers are very important to Yieldbot because referrer data is a primary data source in our intent decisioning algos.

We look at referrers in two ways at Yieldbot. We look at session referrer – meaning the referring source of the visitor session on publisher – both domain and URL level. Also we look at the match referrer – meaning the referring source – both domain and URL level - to the actual ad match impression.

Session referrers are always external domains. They can be bookmarks, emails, search, social and every other way a person can get to a website.

Match referrers can be both external (for every ad match on a site landing) and internal URLs (for every ad match during a site session).

What we’ll share about CTR of internal match referrers is that they are the highest performing. CTR in-session — user page view 2 and above — as a whole performs 2X better than ad match impressions on landing. This counters much of what you hear in ad tech circles and more closely mirrors Search where CTR increases with query refinement.

It’s also a great validation of our thesis that the serialization of session data can operate ad match rules with higher performance than a single page level rule. Again, this looks like e-Commerce to a great extent because click path data is delivering the rule and gaining decision intelligence with each additional user click in session.

What we’ll share about CTR performance on external match referrer data for Top 10 ranking for the past 3 months. Everyone loves Top 10 lists, right?

Top 10: Yieldbot CTR by External Match Referrer











Much of what we see here runs counter to the prevailing wisdom about online advertising.

The idea that Publisher Direct traffic does not click on ads. The idea that Facebook traffic has no commercial value. The idea that Search traffic has the most obvious intent. The idea that Pinterest is the future of the commercial web. So far, our data points that all those assumptions need to be called into question.

From day 1 at Yieldbot we’ve been about breaking new ground by using first party publisher analytics to understand and redefine the relationship of visitors and monetization. We’re incredibly excited that these early results are so fascinating and we’re digging deeper. It’s possible everything thought known about online advertising was wrong. It’s likely online advertising has never been done right for publishers and advertisers at the site level. The time’s they are a changing.

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