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Old 07-17-2000, 07:16 AM   #1
Ralph Slate
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Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Springfield, MA
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Unhappy Burst Media's recent emphasis on Unique Visitors

I've been experiencing some changes in my revenue patterns from Burst, and was wondering if anyone else has seen such a change.

Around May 1, my Burst defaults went through the roof. I'd normally just say "the industry is down so everyone is hurting", but what puzzled me is that in the Burst user forum, many sites were claiming much less defaults than me, and were claiming around the same revenue as me even though they had 1/5 my impressions.

After much discussion, the Burst CTO posted a message saying that they had changed their ad serving algorithm because they had found that they were "serving ads in situations that they shouldn't have been". The emphasis was on not showing ads to people who had a lot of pageviews, or who weren't clicking on ads.

Since Burst doesn't use persistent cookies to track users, they are tracking by IP address (and by something else -- their CTO told me that. Possibly the User Agent, because that's about the only other thing in the environment variables that is identifying).

Of course, IP tracking breaks down when you consider that a lot of traffic, especially from AOL, comes across proxy servers. When I look at my logs, I get a lot of traffic from IP's associated with AOL proxies.

Even if Burst is able to compensate for proxies, they have definitely made a shift towards rewarding sites with more unique visitors. Even though they are pretty silent about it -- they won't release specifics, calling it proprietary information.

We can only guess what their threshholds are. Perhaps 100 pages is the limit an IP can get. Or maybe 25. That might reset every day. Or maybe only every month. Or maybe it never resets.

What happens if a user sees a bunch of ****py ads (I've seen Aria ads endlessly at times) and doesn't click, and then gets labelled as a "non-performing user"?

If their proxy screening isn't perfect, then a small site will naturally get less defaults than a large site -- there's less of a chance that 2 people will be coming from the same proxy if the site is getting only 50 visitors a day than if they are getting 2,000.

It's hard to know how much of Burst's slowdown is due to them not having ads available, and how much is due to their new ad-serving algorithm. I'm sure that their default level is fairly high for everyone, but although Burst used to apportion default ads out equally to both large and small sites, they now seem to have a scheme in place that penalizes larger sites with not enough unique visitors.

If you have a lot of traffic coming from a user forum, or your site has a lot of content on it which prompts people to view 25+ pages per session, or you get many repeat visitors, then you get hit with higher defaults than a site that gets lots of unique visitors who only view a page or two and never return.

Is anyone else experiencing this?

Ralph


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Old 07-17-2000, 08:35 AM   #2
Lavee
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Unhappy

Ralph,

Let me try to answer this.

I think because of the ad market, all ad agencies got a hit including Burst. Hence instead of serving equal amount of defaults to everyone, they are trying to serve ads to the sites in which they expect to maximize their revenue and prove to their advertisers, that they have a quality webmasters in their portfolio.

I think for this reason, they filter out how many ads per Ip can be shown, to improve their unique ads shown percentage, which will add value to the advertiser.

By the way, I applied many times to Burst for my free stuff directory and never got accepted. The reason they said is they have too many free stuff sites in their portfolio and not advertisers for this category.

Thanks

Lavee

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[This message has been edited by Lavee (edited 07-17-2000).]
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Old 07-17-2000, 08:54 AM   #3
Adun
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Wink

I agree with ralph.

I used to have a mid size site with 4000 impressions per day. In those default days you mentioned, I got thousands of defaults.


These days, my site has suffered a massive loss of visitors (and Diablo2's release doesn't help). Yesterday the number was 513... a really really small number

However, now that my site became a microsite, I get very very few dfautls: 498 paid ads yesterday, which means 3% default ads.

Surely, my microsite is getting much less defautls than big sites, so I cannothin but agree with you

¿whi is burst doing this?

I don't know. It could be the market pressure, they could be trying to make advertisers happy with more value, or they could be trying to get most of theirmembers happy (since no everyone has big traffic)... or whatever.

my traffic is so small now I'm not that concerned http://geekvillage.com/ubb/wink.gif
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Old 07-17-2000, 09:55 AM   #4
TJ
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Thumbs down

I have definately noticed an increase in default ads (despite gaining more unique visitors every month), but I'm hoping it is more a result of them having a lot fewer ads to run (plus the fact Rocketlinks deselected me from their targeted campaign - even though the click-thru is over 4%). It seems like they had over 50 campaigns running in May and now there are only 27 with 7 or 8 of those being CPCs which I don't select... Hopefully things will pick up in August and September..
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Old 07-17-2000, 01:18 PM   #5
dynamicx
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What a coincidence TJ. Rocket Links De-Selected us for the July campaign even though I was over 4% too. Did you receive a response as to why?

Shane
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Old 07-17-2000, 05:16 PM   #6
tteenie
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Cool

Welcome to the forum Adun! Glad to see a new contributor. http://geekvillage.com/ubb/smile.gif


(How'd I do Steve_S and WC?) heehee
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Old 07-17-2000, 06:49 PM   #7
Pete
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I personnally got 23000 defeaults yesterday.. out of 26 000 total... that is really really poor statistics... http://geekvillage.com/ubb/frown.gif
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Old 07-17-2000, 07:52 PM   #8
Even Steven
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What Ralph is describing illustrates that the industry still relies on CTR as the standard tool to measure campaign success.

The goal of most ad campaigns is to stimulate traffic to an advertiser's site. The higher the CTR, the more successful.

Ad Networks like Burst! pride themselves on their ability to generate high CTR for their advertisers.

Thus, Burst! feels compelled to get as high a CTR it can for each campaign. To do this, they must figure out which websites get the highest clicks for a specific campaign.

Burst's adserving technology is smart enough to figure out which sites tend to generate the most clicks, for a given banner. That's who gets the impressions.

This way, Burst! can go back to their advertisers and say, "See, we got you lot's of clicks!! Now how about renewing us for another month?"

If you are getting tons of page views, but no one is clicking those banners, why should Burst! continue serving banners to you? Your site is actually hurting Burst's reputation.

Some sites are getting high impressions for certain campaigns. I happen to get lot's of impressions for the MSN Carpoint banner; my visitors seem to love clicking them. But they don't seem to click much of the other banners. So I get pretty high defaults too.

Steve
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Old 07-17-2000, 08:53 PM   #9
Ralph Slate
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Well, I think the first bad assumption is that CTR is an effective way to measure an ad campaign. As was posted here a couple of days ago, studies show that many people will see an ad on a site, and then visit the site later on. They never click on it.

Plus, what value is CTR for a banner that looks like an error message? It shows that you have neophyte users.

Secondly, Burst is making an assumption that the more times you see an ad, the less of a chance you will click on it. I can agree if you've clicked on an ad, but I don't agree if you've just seen the ad.

Burst seems to be doing that with CPM ads, which are designed and sold as "branding" ads. If CPM ads aren't sold as branding ads, then what kind of ads do you buy if you want to brand your site? We all know the unofficial answer is CPC ads -- many showings, few clicks, few payments.

Anyway, why cap the number of ads shown to a particular IP address? If that happened when I was listening to the radio or watching TV, I'd never see an ad more than once. I'd personally love it, except that the space usually filled by the ads would contain static, or silence.

But the point remains -- Burst is saying to its publishers "we're changing the rules -- we're not going to show ads to people if they've seen too many of them, and we decide what 'too many' means". In fact, Burst is not even saying that out loud -- it changed its code without telling people.

Why is this any different than them saying "we're only paying you for ad impressions to unique visitors because that's all our advertisers will pay us"?

The end effect is that if I have 30,000 impressions with 3000 visitors and someone else has 6000 impressions with 3000 visitors, we may get roughly the same income from Burst. Same as paying only for unique visitors.

Why? Because of Burst's theory that the way it is operating is in someone's best interest -- Burst's. I didn't hear anything from them telling us why this is better.

They're doing this at the expense of their larger sites. What could happen? There are a lot of new networks popping up. Any one of those networks could say to Burst's higher-traffic sites, "hey, we won't penalize you for having 30,000 impressions a day. We'll pay you for ads you show, and we show ads fairly to all our publishers".

Then Burst is left with a lot of sites that only get 500 impressions per day, and no hopes of increasing that. Can they survive with much lower traffic? I doubt it.

Think about it. Take a basepoint and look at your revenue. Now think about how you want to increase your revenues -- by increasing your traffic.

For every new visitor on your site, you maybe get 50 pageviews over their life. But Burst only shows ads to a maximum of maybe 20 of them. And if your new user is from AOL, forget it -- since that proxy is already maxed out, they won't see very many ads at all.

So you increase your traffic, but get virtually no revenue from it.

Why is that fair? It's a basic question -- should they allocate X ads to each site, or should they allocate X percent of the total ads to each site. If they allocate X ads, that means that small sites get the same revenue as large sites. If a small site grows, it gets no additional income.

If they allocate X percent of the total ads to each site, then as your site grows, it gets more revenue.

If Burst would have enough guts to admit that it has changed its rules, then I think people would look elsewhere. I know people who are locked into 3-year contracts with Burst, and who now have skyrocketing defaults. They can't do anything with those defaults except eat them or try to promote their site through a banner exchange, or to use an affiliate program to try and hawk goods.

Ralph


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