The trackability of online advertising is what makes it so superior to conventional advertising. Not only can an advertiser tell how many times an advert has been seen (impressions), but also how many times the advert has been successful in sending visitors to the advertised website (clicks). As discussed in the chapter on conversion optimisation, the tracking needs to continue on the website to determine how successful the advert has been in creating more revenue for the website (conversions).
Read more about this in the Conversion optimisation chapter.
As well as tracking adverts, advertising networks can also provide information about the users who saw the advert, as well as those who acted on it, including:
- Connection type
- Operating system
- Time of day
- Internet service provider.
Many third-party ad servers will set a cookie on impression of an advert, not only on clickthrough, so it is possible to track conversions that happen indirectly (called view-through conversions). Simply put, third-party ad servers can track not only the post click data, but also the post view data; when a user sees an advert, does not click on it, but goes to the website after viewing the advert either by typing in the URL, or by searching for the site.
Using this information, the ad server can target the adverts displayed, helping advertisers to optimise campaigns and get the most from their budgets.