For more than 12 years, Dorian Regester has been working in web optimization and analytics. He’s certified in the four major web analytic vendors – Google Analytics, Webtrends, Adobe SiteCatalyst and Coremetrics – and knows them as well as anyone in the industry.
Dorian’s web analytics roots started in development where he noticed all the moving parts associated with the coding in web analytics and tags. His developer insight allowed him to see the greater problem in analytics in that tags don’t always behave like they should, which compromises the data companies use to make key business decisions.
“What companies assume is that if they put the analytics code in the global footer file all tags are tracking accurately because all pages touch that global footer file,” said Regester. “That’s not the case because there might be multiple versions of that file or there might be more pages that reference it than we assume, which compromises the data.”
Finding the Analytics Gap Through Auditing
For the past four years he’s been running Marketing Optimizations (www.marketingoptimizations.com), a full-service digital analytics agency based in Paramus, New Jersey. As the company’s CEO, Regester is frequently brought in to help bridge a gap for a company that might be struggling with its analytics implementations and have inaccurate data they are basing key business decisions on.
Dorian’s clients range from mid-sized businesses to Fortune 50 companies, meaning when he’s called into to help it requires him to sort and inspect a lot of web pages.
“I needed an automated solution to be able to analyze an implementation to figure out where the gaps were, where the missing and duplicate tags were to really understand an implementation,” said Dorian. “Some implementations can be tens of thousands of pages and it doesn’t make sense for me to go in and manually check if every page is referencing the correct version of code and has the necessary variables that we want it to have tracked.”
Dorian began asking his circle of colleagues if there was a solution that would audit a site that wasn’t tied to just one analytics vendor. That’s when he discovered ObservePoint.
“I saw that a lot of big companies were using ObservePoint and started to do my due diligence to understand why they were using it and what the pros and cons were to see if it made sense for me,” commented Dorian, who was sold on the product when many of the major analytics vendors gave their stamp of approval.
Auditing Reveals Badly Behaving Tags
Since he began using ObservePoint three years ago, Regester has audited more than three million pages in 75 implementations for some very large companies. Every audit gives him valuable insight into what each page is reporting. One common trend in all these audits has to do with tags not reporting or reporting inflated numbers, which directly affects traffic metrics.
“I know from many implementations there are different versions of code and there is always a chance that things aren’t tagged and tracked appropriately,” said Regester. “Somehow analytics codes just fall off. If that happens the data is wrong and the business loses confidence in the data.”
Regester’s experience is that anywhere between 15 to 20 percent of pages have tags that either are not reporting correctly or don’t even exist; while some sites might have 15 percent inflation, meaning multiple versions of the same tag exist on the page.
Truthful Data Discovers More Ad Revenue
For one customer, Regester used ObservePoint to audit its site to find additional ad revenue. When the company approached him, they really felt they had everything nailed down. After he ran an audit on the site, it was discovered that 25 percent of its sites and pages were not tagged and tracked with SiteCatalyst.
“They thought they were reporting to perspective advertisers that everything was tagged and tracked. It was an eye opener,” said Regester. “At first the IT group fought me really hard and said I didn’t know what I was talking about, but as I was able to show them the breakout of every URL and where the gaps were they were able to verify it for themselves.”
Regester believes they were leaving anywhere between 15 to 20 percent of available CPM dollars on the table because they weren’t able to paint a clear picture of what their true numbers were from a unique visitor perspective. Because the company thought its traffic was much lower, it was selling advertisers premium space at remnant prices.
Once they made the changes, ads they were selling at $.90 and below CPM they were now able to get up to $2.25 and sometimes higher, depending on the site and location, because they had an accurate report of the incoming site traffic.
For Regester, ObservePoint’s tag auditing has really added more credibility to his clients.
According to Regester, companies make the assumption their technology team and their QA and QC teams and the policies in place are doing the trick. What he learned is that it’s necessary for a third-party tool like ObservePoint to verify everything is correct.
“Auditing gives you piece of mind,” concluded Regester. “Now we know that everything that is being reported is accurate.”