By Tricia Andrew, MBA
Making it count
About 3 or 4 years ago the digital marketing bubble crashed and the open faucet leaking money into premium advertising inventory for the purpose of “branding” ran dry. During this rough period, Networks & DSPs (Demand Side Platforms) came to the rescue. If you are unfamiliar with what a DSP is, Brand.net defines it as “Technology that adds significant value in the process of buying and/or management of media that operates as directed by the demand side entity (i.e. the consumer).” In this definition, the “customer” is the company utilizing the technology for its advertising needs. From a Media/Agency/Ops perspective, I define DSPs simply as a super advertising network with the technology that makes every single impression count. With the economy deflating quickly, every single penny of advertising budget had to be accounted for, and networks & DSPs seemed to fit the bill.
Many companies jumped on the Advertising Network/DSP bandwagon. I couldn’t blame them either. In fact, I owe my career as a customer targeting specialist to these companies. In addition to the publisher pixels already piggybacked on the tracking tags, many advertisers and agencies piled on network/DSP pixels. Networks and DSPs definitely gave clients what they were looking for – savings. With savings, however, came a price: websites taking longer to load. Every pixel added a little “weight” to the webpage, increasing the amount of time at which the page fully loads by a few hundred milliseconds each. Milliseconds may seem like no time at all, but if your clients are pushing more than 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 pixels on their page, your site will take an eternity to load.
MO’ PIXELS MO’ PROBLEMS
When I was in second grade, my principal called my mom and said “Your child has a problem, she can’t problem solve…”
With tens of pixels on each of my client’s pages, I became a problem solving beast. Here are some of the issues concerning pixels and tracking tags that may or may not be familiar to you:
• Pixels taking a long time to connect to their servers – This slows down the client’s webpage.
• Pixels redirecting to several other pixels – This adds hundreds milliseconds to the page load.
• Secure pixels (https) redirecting to non-secure pixels (http) on secure web pages (omg!) -This causes the ALERT dialogue box telling a customer that there are non-secure items on the page.
• Pixels that were put on for past campaigns that were never taken down – This increases page load time with no marketing reason supporting it.
• Pixels of companies that unfortunately aren’t in business anymore – These pixels may or may not connect to the server they were assigned to and thus stop your pages from loading properly.
• Vendors doing routine maintenance on their servers - Depending on how it’s done, may cause tags not connect to the server on browser call for a small period of time.
The list can go on and on. All are very detrimental to user experience and customer confidence during the purchase cycle. These are all problems I have to troubleshoot and fix as quickly as possible.
Side Note: I would like to send a mean “HA” to my elementary school principal “HA HA in your face!”
Many times, I’ve solved these issues with good ole “manual” troubleshooting. I didn’t mind doing the work because not having the pixels up on tracking tags meant that clients could not optimize their campaigns. But now, there are some container tag solutions out there that seem to solve my client’s problems- I’m really excited about them. Over the weeks I’ll be reviewing several container tag vendors and giving an overview of industry techniques that are used to solve the issues above. Some of these techniques include:
• Pixel Auditing
• Server to server pixel calls
• Latent Pixel alerts
…and more. Stay tuned – hopefully the posts can help you choose a tag management product that will not only help your site function better.
Tricia Andrew, MBA is the Lead Client Service Engineer at Razorfish NYC. With about 5 years digital marketing experience, she has given consult in the area of technical implementation of media within the industries of Finance, Retail, Automotive, Travel, and more. Her specialties are marketing vendor management, customer targeting, digital display and emerging media tracking implementation. Follow Tricia on twitter! @Tricia_Status