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Google Ad Planner
Where does data come from?

 5:24 pm on Dec 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

A month or so ago, after reading a post from ASA about making sure sites were listed so potential advertisers could see them in Google Ad Planner, I logged in, updated my site information, and added it to my profile for advertisers to see.

What concerned me at the time was my site's traffic statistics are way off. Like it showed 16% of my unique visitors! Thinking perhaps it had to be active for a few weeks, I went ahead anyway. I checked back, and the information is still wrong, which makes my site appear to have very little traffic, and as a result, very little interest on the part of advertisers looking to target sites in my niche.

So, I removed it from my profile. This site doesn't have Google Analytics, so how could Google possibly know what kind of traffic it has? I have AdSense on it, but not on every page and certainly not appearing everytime a page loads.

I thought Google might use clicks from SE listings and AdSense impressions, but other than that the program seems very flawed in estimating site traffic.

It doesn't appear you can edit this information to make it more accurate, so Ad Planner is a real negative in my case. Anyone else noticed this?



 5:58 pm on Dec 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

This site doesn't have Google Analytics, so how could Google possibly know what kind of traffic it has?

I think you answered your own question.


 9:19 pm on Dec 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

@ netmeg:

I think you answered your own question.

How so? Are you saying that Google just guesses at traffic? If they do, it certainly misrepresents the information they provide to advertisers.


 4:33 pm on Dec 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

Well if you don't have Analytics, all they can do is guess, right?


 2:48 am on Dec 23, 2009 (gmt 0)

This site doesn't have Google Analytics, so how could Google possibly know what kind of traffic it has?

We do have Analytics, yet the stats are way off too. Its just the Google way, they got great search engine, but most of Google other products are mostly lame (including AdSense). In my view, Google is the next Microsoft by trying to be involve in everything, but they cant get nothing right.


 2:58 am on Dec 23, 2009 (gmt 0)

I have Analytics too, and I did enable Ad Planner to get data from it. Yet it's still showin a 30% less visitor that what Analytics reports. It is very annoying.


 5:41 am on Dec 23, 2009 (gmt 0)

I always see an empty page When I try to use adplanner publishers center. Please help me


 3:55 pm on Dec 23, 2009 (gmt 0)

Well Analytics in and of itself typically underreports 20 to 30% of traffic and transactions across about 200 sites on our servers.

I dunno what to tell you - I have multiple sites in Ad Planner, and some are pretty close on reporting traffic, and some are way off. The ones that are way off tend to be the more seasonal sites, that have distinct spikes.


 6:14 pm on Dec 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

I get a notice on Ad Planner that my site has low Google Analytics tag coverage.

The help page says

Status message: Your site has low Google Analytics tag coverage

You'll receive a 'Your site has low Google Analytics tag coverage' message if less than 90% of the pages* indexed by Google for your domain have Google Analytics tags. If all of your pages aren't tagged, your Google Analytics data only reflects a fraction of your total traffic, and isn't considered a reliable indicator for Google Ad Planner traffic estimates.

That got me really nervous, as you can imagine, but I've checked everything and it's Ad Planner's mistake. For a while I've been thinking of removing my quantcast tags, why bother carrying around the extra javascript? But until Ad Planner starts making sense I will hold off on any changes.


 9:41 pm on Jan 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

Sorry for the delay.

I've spoken with the Product Manager for Ad Planner at Google, who asked me to clear a few things up. Here's what he said:

Website Traffic Estimation
To estimate website traffic we use a combination of two approaches:

1.) We extrapolate website traffic from sample data we collect from a variety of sources. For our sample data Google Ad Planner combines information from sources such as aggregated Google search data, opt-in anonymous Google Analytics data, opt-in external consumer panel data, and other third-party market research. The data is aggregated over millions of users and powered by computer algorithms; it doesn't contain personally-identifiable information.

2.) Individual websites can opt-in their Google Analytics data to improve the accuracy of data displayed about their site in Ad Planner.

This methodology is similar to that of other 3rd party online measurement tools, which also use hybrid approaches that blend server side measured numbers with sample/panel based estimates.

Google Analytics Opt-in Data
@Cancellara - Did you opt-in your Analytics data into Ad Planner? We don't use your Analytics data in Ad Planner unless you explicitly choose to share it. So unless you've chosen to opt-in your Google Analytics data to Ad Planner, it's possible that the Ad Planner estimates are different than your Analytics statistics.

@Oxydada - When looking at your Analytics reports compared to Ad Planner, are you comparing US to US figures? Ad Planner by default shows US numbers while Analytics shows worldwide figures, so this could be the cause of the discrepancy.

@rashidjaved11 - Please file a ticket with our support teams and we'll try to help diagnose your issue. http://www.google.com/support/adplanner/bin/request.py [google.com]

@aish1108 - If you've checked everything and you're sure your tags are on all your pages, then you should opt-in your data. The "low tag coverage" message is just a warning to tell people to check their tag coverage. It's possible that our check is making an error since we're basing it on Google crawl data and trying to detect your Analytics tags from the crawl. The data you see in your Analytics reports is what we'll display in Ad Planner

Feel free to continue the discussion, but I'll warn you that I can't promise another response from the PM. As you may imagine, he's a very busy guy. He will, of course, be reading the feedback you provide in order to make sure we're building the best product possible for web site owners and advertisers. :)



 10:06 pm on Jan 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

ASA; Thanks for bringing us those comments from the Product Manager for Ad Planner.


 10:46 pm on Jan 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

Hi ASA, thanks for taking the time to find out about this.

When I go to the AdPlanner dashboard for my site, it says "View data for: all countries" - so it is not only US results (I think).
And then reports at least 100k visitor less :(

Either way, it's not showing only US visitor, cause I donīt have that much of traffic from the USA. So the data is off.


 4:06 pm on Jan 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the information, ASA.

I would suggest that the PM consider an option that allows webmasters to input accurate traffic statistics for this report, however. Perhaps with the notation that the traffic info was provided by the site, and cannot be verified by Google.

Yes, I can see where there would be room for abuse, but in my case there's no advantage to my site being listed in Ad Planner, as it's not reporting 84% of my unique visitors. That is a considerable variation, and not a good representation of my site's traffic.

So there's no incentive for me to have my site listed, and advertisers who might want to target my niche overlook my site as they feel it doesn't have enough traffic to warrant targeting.

I don't plan on adding Analytics to my site, and based on the current factors involved in estimating site traffic for sites without Analytics--with 84 percent of unique visitors being missed in my case--there's a missed opportunity for both advertisers and sites in AdSense if this is very widespread.

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