Tracking Publication Performance Results

MediaBids publications’ results come from several sources of raw data sets.  On a monthly basis, we collect the reports from the various places, align the data, reformat it, clean it up, and tally the results before uploading the final monthly results to our site for publishers.

What kinds of results are there?

We have three types of campaigns, but they can be a mixture as well. 

              Per Call – paid on the phone calls

              Per Sale- paid on verified sales

              Per Lead- paid on collected customer contact information

Per call campaigns, our most popular type, base the payable result on call criteria.  Typical call criteria are: call length, calls during business hours, calls within a region or zip code, and or calls that press a number to reach an operator.  Most advertisers want a caller to be on the line for one to two minutes before they consider the caller legitimate.  The Invoca platform allows us to disqualify calls which fall outside of the advertiser’s call center hours, but not all require that feature if they are collecting the callers’ numbers and calling them back.  Calls can also be qualified by a key pressed zip code or simply by the caller’s the area code, and or their exchange.   Phone numbers consist of 4 parts:  the 1-digit country code, a 3-digit area code and 3-digit central office or exchange code and a 4-digit subscriber or extension number.

Per Sale campaigns are actual sales.  Sales are determined by the advertiser and we receive monthly reports of sales for our publications.  Some of these will be set on a percentage of the sale and others are a flat rate.

Per lead campaigns are those where a customer’s details are collected during a call or via a landing page.  These are Web Leads and Post Backs.  Some advertisers use URLs/QR codes in their ads which send readers to an online lead form which collects their information on behalf of an advertiser, and then that lead information is automatically sent to the advertiser as raw data.  Those lead forms are part of the backend of the Mediabids.com system. We built and house many of the lead forms in the ads, while other leads are gathered and stored on the advertiser’s site, which then sends us as a post -back notification of a lead conversion.

Some campaigns use some deeper tech and robots listen to calls for key words that trigger a “sale”.  These are called Signals.  We use these on Omaha Steaks and on Physicians Mutual Dental.  HIPPA laws prevent recording calls for some campaigns, like the dental campaign, which is why robot ears are a fitting option for counting calls where a person took the step to sign up for the insurance.

When are final reports ready/available?

Monthly reports are available on about the 3rd business day of the month. Sometimes we run into obstacles like a big advertiser running late with their reporting to us.  Rather than report incomplete results, then report stragglers as they come in, we wait to send one complete report.  When they are complete, an automatic email is sent to all publications with active ads. 

What’s in the monthly report?

The emailed report will show you top performers and the total due to you, but if you want more information, you can hit the link in the email to the full report or log on to your account to see how much each of your active ads generated.  The reports are downloadable to excel as well.  Full reports show the monthly total, each active ad, how many qualifying responses it had and the total amount generated for each ad.

Why are my weekly totals not matching this monthly report?

Publications are emailed weekly automated traffic reports for their ads.  The automated reports give call counts and result counts for basic pay per call campaigns.  The weekly reports do not however take into account the per sale results or web-based results.  They also do not take into account the hiccups that come from phone numbers being hit with the latest SPAM.  Your monthly reports contain final payable total results. 

How do you know what calls are for my publication?

Your ads contain unique identifiers, mostly phone numbers and in some cases URLs and they are procured just for your publication.  We rent each phone number for the publications and the URLs are given unique codes from our advertisers.  These are both tracked back to your publication.  We rent phone numbers in bulk from the Invoca platform, which was somewhat recently bought by Salesforce.  The Invoca platform is integrated via API with our own custom platform which is a continually evolving system established more than 20 years ago by our inhouse developers lead by our forever CTO John Carril. Much like Invoca, our technology grows and reacts to the ever-changing requirements of the industry as a whole. . 

What is done about junk calls or SPAM, does it affect my results?

The leads are the easiest place to spot spammers.  It’s unclear what they get out of it, but you can always count on some bot or person submitting a bunch of leads with details like:rcvbe7632rwihngdvm.  Our technology inspects incoming leads requests for a variety of indicators and filters most SPAM/BOT generated leads before they even enter our system. However, the few that manage to slip by our defenses are then hand removed.  The calls that are spam are blocked by a few methods.  Some have an IVR which requires callers to press a random number to reach an operator, another asks for a zip code, and many spam calls only last 21 seconds so they never reach the qualifying call length.  There are from time to time, publications that attempt to rack up results illegitimately too.  We don’t want to give anyone ideas, but we’ve seen and delt with some sketchy people.  They are quickly delt with and removed from our system.  For all the legitimate calls, the tech built into Invoca automatically tags a call as payable if it meets the criteria as a result.  Criteria like: call length, did they press1, are they calling within the region, did they call during business hours, have they called in the past 30 days and already qualified as payable.  When the automatic spam blockers are breached, we look closer and may listen to the recorded calls. 

What details about a call are collected by the call platform?

Call Start TimeTime stamp for the time of call EST
Call Record IDUnique call id
SourceThe phone number in the ad
Promo Number DescriptionYour Ad number in our system
Original PublisherYour publication
Original Publisher ID (From Network)Your publication’s ID in our system
Call Segment PathAdvertiser
Final CampaignAdvertiser’s preferred end point for your call, can be by region or by type of ad (classified vs display
Total KeyPressesWhat numbers did the person press during the IVR process
Destination Phone NumberWhere the call is connecting to
Total DurationHow long the person was on the line total
Total Connected DurationHow long the person was on the line and connected to the system
Total IVR DurationHow long a person waits in an IVR to get to an operator
PaidAmount you get paid for the call
Payout ConditionsThis tells us which qualifiers were not hit to make a call payable
CityCity
RegionState/Provence
Repeat CallerThis is how we know if the caller has called in the past
Caller IDThe caller’s number
Phone TypeCell or landline
Signal NamesThis is where custom signal can be added to automatically tag a call based on what robots hear on the call
End of Call ReasonSometimes a caller hangs up, sometimes the call center does
RecordingA recording of the call, if applicable.

What kind of information can MediaBids derive from the data?

We have a great deal of information at our fingertips.  Advertisers have access to all their call data.  Publications can see how many calls they have had and how many converted to a payable result.  But if you look at that long list of attributes we have for phone calls, and then add to that the list of attributes we have about publications, there really is quite a bit of data we work with.  Publication attributes include things like: circulation, location, distribution, format and frequency.  But there are also attributes for the individual ads you request like: size, color, start date, ad type (classified, display).  On the advertiser side, attributes are things like: category or audience and industry.

Most publications have multiple versions of an ad and run what works for their space.  Because we do not stipulate when or how often a publication should run an ad, some statistics can become best guesses.  For instance we can guess that a publication ran an ad on a day where their phone number had call activity.  But depending on the ad and the publication, running an ad doesn’t necessarily mean calls are generated.  We also do not know which size/color ad a publication ended up running. 

We all depend on publications having a strong presence in their communities.  We depend on readers being compelled to take action by calling an ad they are interested in.  MediaBids constantly works to ensure that advertisers are doing their part to hook readers and pay top rates for the business brought their way.

Not already registered with MediaBids? We’d love to work with you! Reach us at Mediabids.com, info@mediabids.com or call 860-379-9602.

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Should I Only Run Campaigns with the Highest Payouts?

If you are considering which per-response ads to run and are only looking at the payout, you are missing the bigger picture. Considering price and demand are equally important factors when picking ads and will yield more revenue for your publication.

Factors to consider:

Is the product being advertised right for your audience?

How many of your readers are likely to need and afford the product or service being offered in the ad? Is the product universal? Is it useful only for homeowners? Is it something for a specific age group?  We have several categories of advertising campaigns, but our most lucrative are: Senior Home Improvement, Food, Senior Health, Telecom and Employment etc. Travel has been on again off again.  Who is reading your publication and what do they want/need? What can they afford?

Is the payout made on a sale or on a call? 

The payout on an ad, is a term we use to describe the amount that an advertiser is willing to pay for a measurable event. For many per-response campaigns, a payable event is a phone call that lasts longer than a defined minimum time-period. Other campaigns are per-sale, which means that a payment to a publication happens when a consumer makes a purchase using one of the tracking items in an ad.

Why are payouts so different?

There is an enormous difference in the payouts that are offered in per-response campaigns, they can range in price difference from single digits to hundreds of dollars per response. Usually, what determines how much is being paid is the cost of the thing that is being sold. If a product is very expensive, the anticipation would be that the product would have a higher payout. However, the same factors that allow an advertiser to offer a higher payout also inhibit overall response. In other words, very expensive items or services are less likely to receive a high volume of response than lower price offerings, this is just economics and not unique to newspaper advertising.  

How much is the payout per qualified response?

Response programs pay a per response rate, but the more response you receive, the more money is earned.  If a very high payout item receives no response, it doesn’t matter how much it pays because no money will be earned. Therefore, it will generate more revenue to pick a campaign that is going to get solid response at a lower rate, than a campaign that is going to pay get little response at a higher rate.

Understandably, the first thing that many publications look at is the payout.  Naturally, it would be nice if there were campaigns that were both very high price and very high volume and, occasionally, we do find these. However, when considering which campaigns to run, don’t just look at the price.

If you would like to discuss how to choose which campaigns to run, please call us at 860-379-9602 or visit www.MediaBids.com.

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Are Your Ads Not Generating the Response You Want? Some Solutions

So, you are running ads from Mediabids in your publication but your response is not what you had hoped? This is a frustrating problem, but there are some steps we can take to try to correct things.

First, ask yourself if the product or service being advertised is really a good fit for your readership. Sometimes publications choose ads from Mediabids because they like the payout, or like how the ad looks but are not paying attention to the single most important thing, which is do your readers want what is being advertised? There are several things to consider – is the price something that they can afford? Is the product or service being advertised relevant to your area and your readership’s needs? Generac Home Generators is a great campaign, but if your publication is in an area where the power never goes out, it probably won’t do very well.

Second, are there other parts of your publication where you can use the ad? Different people seek different types of content and it might be worthwhile to try the ad in a place where a different group of people, who are more likely to respond, might be looking. Classified sections, a TMC product, or on your website are all examples of sections within your publication that attract distinct audiences.

If you feel confident that the ad is right for your audience and it still is not getting results, then we have a different type of problem and the answer might be trying a different campaign. It is ok to switch campaigns and not every ad works in every publication, sometimes for reasons that are very hard to identify. By changing the ads you are running and observing the results that they generate, you can better identify what resonates with your audience. So to do this effectively – watch the weekly reports of your results that Mediabids sends and then at the end of the month, review your results carefully. If you are running an ad and it isn’t working, let’s try something different. The goal of Mediabids’ program is to make your publication money.

If you would like suggestions or to review the ads you are currently running, please contact us at www.MediaBids.com or 860-379-9602.

How Are Phone Numbers Used to Track Results of Ads in Newspapers and Magazines?

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by Vicki MacDonald, MediaBids

You might be wondering how a phone number can be used to determine how many people respond to a print ad. This brief article explains how unique phone numbers in ads can be used to track response.

First, it is important to understand that any advertised phone number can be routed to any other destination number. For example, a phone number for a local business can be routed to ring at a call center across the country, or a cell phone, or a land line hanging on the wall of that business. Think of an advertised phone number as a transparent entry point into a phone system, the number that a customer dials does not necessarily have any geographic relationship to where it rings.

The most common way to use phone numbers in print ads is to advertise using a unique phone number to determine how many people have called from each individual ad. This is possible because when a call is made and then transferred, the initial number called is able to gather and retain data on the call and caller. What this means is that by placing a phone number in a print ad and then routing it to a customer, the data associated with that call is available to the owner of the phone number in the ad, even though it rings somewhere else. Using this technique, it is easy to see how many people called an ad, how long they spent on the phone, the geographic location where the call originated and which party hung up the phone first.

Here are some things to watch when using numbers to track results:

  1. Is the transfer of the call from the advertised number to the destination occurring seamlessly?
    1. In most cases this is not an issue, but occasionally the transfer from the advertised number to the destination number can result in problems. Any glitch, static or pause can dramatically impact the results generated from an ad because callers are likely to abandon a call with poor quality or that doesn’t sound right.
      1. Our suggestion (and this is what we do at MediaBids): test the number before it is in use. Try it from a cell phone and a land line. Get someone from a different geographical area, using a different phone carrier, to try it too. If you aren’t getting a clean and instantaneous transfer, don’t use the number and contact your number provider for a solution. 
  2. Is the phone number that is being used “clean?”
    1. One big mistake that is often made when a phone number is being used to track results is assuming that just because the number is no longer in use by anyone else, no one else is calling it. For example, the number placed in an ad may have been in use for a long period of time by another business. For all you know, a plumbing business may have handed out thousands of refrigerator magnets with your tracking number on it. Just because the plumbers no longer use the number does not stop anyone with a clogged sink from calling it. This creates problems when tracking results generated by an ad because obviously, unless you want to unclog sinks, the callers are not going to be interested in what is being advertised.
      1. Our suggestion (and this is what we do at MediaBids): It is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to secure a never-before-used number. Anytime you get a number, ask for the phone records of all calls that have come into that number for 30 or 60 days prior to your intended start date. If you see that the number is getting calls from prior use, you should not use it. Those calls are unlikely to stop. Most phone number providers will disclose how long they rest a number before recirculating it but regardless of how long the number has been out of circulation, we recommend checking how many calls it is still receiving before you start using it.
  3. How do I acquire a phone number to use in an ad?
    1. There are many providers of phone numbers and what differentiates providers is often the way in which they display the data that is generated by a phone call. You can get a trackable phone number from a local phone company but it is unlikely to come with any access to a dashboard that allows you to see the results in real time.
      1. Here are a few telephone number providers we can recommend:
        1. Invoca ( www.invoca.com ) This is the company we use at Mediabids for all of our phone numbers. They have an excellent dashboard available for viewing results.
        1. Others worth considering are: Ringba ( www.ringba.com ); Retreaver (www.retreaver.com); and Call Source (www.callsource.com)

If you would like more information, or have any questions we can assist with, please email vmacdonald@mediabids.com

Celebrating “First Amendment Day”

Happy (Belated) First Amendment Day to our publishing partners! Thank you for the essential work that you do. “The five freedoms we celebrate on First Amendment Day protect the fundamental ways we participate in society and in democracy:


1.) Praying and worship — or not — in accordance with our own beliefs;
2.) Speaking our minds, even — and especially — when we disagree;
3.) ******Publishing news, opinions, ideas and information, including to hold those in power accountable********
4.) Gathering peacefully together to amplify our voices;
5.) Bringing problems to government representatives and suggesting solutions.”

Link to read more about the importance of this holiday – https://www.freedomforum.org/2021/09/15/perspective-first-amendment-day-is-a-reminder-we-get-to-have-a-say/

Newspaper Readers Take Action on Home Service Ads

Newspaper readers are an engaged group of homeowners who are avid consumers of home products and services. More info at https://relevanceprojectnet.wordpress.com/

Helpful Resources For Journalists Covering the Upcoming Inaugural Events

The Committee to Protect Journalists just published some helpful guidelines for journalists covering next week’s events – CPJ Safety Advisory: Covering the build-up to the U.S. presidential inauguration – Committee to Protect Journalists

Additionally, the NNA (National Newspaper Association) also provided a summary of tips/resources –

  • Do not meet in person with sources you do not know.
  • Be mindful of your surroundings.  Some sources say Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) may be used by rioters.
  • Employ social distancing tactics, as always.
  • Do not work alone if covering protests.
  • Obey orders from law enforcement. If legal assistance is needed, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has a hotline for journalists at 1-800-336-4243, or www.rcfp.org.     
  • Be aware of potential use of live ammunition by protesters or police.
  • Stand back from crowds, where vehicle ramming could be a threat.
  • For journalists receiving verbal abuse, Radio-Television News Directors Association has an excellent resource page for maintaining good mental health. https://www.rtdna.org/article/webinar_newsroom_mental_health_strategies

The CPJ also made a downloadable checklist available.

Thank you, journalists, for your service during these difficult times. Without your efforts important and unbiased news coverage wouldn’t be possible. Stay safe!

Profiles in Print: Winston County Journal

Local newspapers not only offer citizens of the communities they cover unique insights into important issues and events in the area, but some go above and beyond to add a smile to their readers faces.

The Winston County Journal does just that, especially during the holidays. In their annual Christmas sections, they not only feature the classic “Letters to Santa”, but they also publish “Letters of Gratitude”, where local children share stories about the people and things they’re grateful for in life.  This feature may be appreciated more than ever this year.

Here’s a brief snapshot of this community newspaper: 

History:
The Winston County Journal was founded in 1892 by William C. Hight and covers Winston County, Mississippi community. The newspaper is presently owned by Emmerich Newspapers, a third-generation newspaper company.

Coverage:
The Journal serves Winston County with news, upcoming events, sports and all community happenings, each Wednesday.

Readership & Advertising Opportunities The Winston County Journal has a paid circulation of 3,000+ print subscribers. With every print ad purchase, The Winston County Journal will also place ads on its website and promote the advertiser on its social media channels. For additional advertising opportunities in surrounding areas, ads may be purchased in conjunction with its sister newspapers – the Choctaw Plaindealer (1,700 print subscribers) and Webster Progress Times (2,300 print subscribers).

Request Ad Rates in the Winston County Journal:  https://www.mediabids.com/publication/ad-rates/winston_county_journal/?pubId=58190

MediaBids is working on a series of short posts spotlighting notable community publications across the U.S. If you’d like to submit your publication for consideration, please email Jessica Greiner – jgreiner@mediabids.com

It’s gonna be big! Because it’s like the classified section (sorta.)

Amazon

I don’t know about you but Amazon is far more a part of my life than I care to admit. Amazon is on my TV. It’s on my phone. It’s often on my doorstep..at least a couple times a week. In other words, I’m at peak Amazon! So to my surprise I’m here writing about the company….in my defense, at least I’m somewhat reluctant about it.

As we all know Amazon is big, really big. In terms of market value, Amazon is the second largest company in the world and it’ll likely hit $1 trillion soon. Given that Amazon is already so much a part of my life, I actually don’t pay that close attention to all the news about the company. I mean it is endless. But despite this my eye did catch a surprising headline- ‘Amazon Sets It’s Sights on the $88 billion Online Ad Market” -from Monday’s New York Times.

Google and Facebook dominate the nearly $100 billion online ad market. But ad dollars are starting to be diverted from these giants of the digital ad market to the giant of online shopping, Amazon. The reason why I’m saying that Amazon is likely going to play well in online ad buying (in the title of this post), is due to the fact that Amazon.com is kinda, sorta like a classified ad section of your local paper. I can imagine everyone doing a big eye roll at that last statement but bare with me.

Years ago, as many of you likely remember, the classified ad section was a huge source of revenue for newspapers. But even today, at Mediabids, we have print advertisers that generate tens of thousands of calls a year from classified liner ads alone. The reason is because the classified section is still where people go to shop.

Now consider this quote in reference to why Verizon sees Amazon as a good place to advertise (even though Verizon doesn’t sell anything on the Amazon site):

”It’s where the shoppers are. They have people who are in a shopping mind-set, so that’s valuable for Verizon to be seen as a resource within that mind-set,” said John Nitti, the chief media officer at Verizon.

Amazon has 100 million Prime members and judging by how often I see Amazon boxes on my doorstep (and Amazon’s market value) there’s a lot of shopping going on.

This is a long way of saying that publishers need to be thinking in terms of being places ”where people shop.” Brands are increasingly becoming performance marketers and performance marketers are migrating to the publications and platforms that offer the best places to reach people in the ”shopping mind-set.”

 

 

 

 

NNA Survey Shows Newspapers are Still a Top Source of Local News

The National Newspaper Association recently conducted a survey to find out what consumers preferences were when it came to learning about local news in their community.

Newspapers slightly edged out television, but what was the most surprising stat was that only 1% of people surveyed cited newspaper’s websites as their preferred source. Also notable is that the majority of respondents have been readers of their local paper for 30 years or more. The full survey findings can be seen here: http://www.nnaweb.org/nna-news?articleTitle=nna-survey-newspapers-still-top-choice-for-local-news–1497279875–1575–1top-story

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