Website Visitors, Google & Click Junk

Website Visitors, Google & Click Junk

Website Visitors, Google and Click Junk

VisitorTrack and the Identification of Nefarious Display Ad Respondents

Never before have there been so many digital messaging opportunities available to marketers for b2b lead generation. At netFactor, we really like Internet advertising. Especially those digital channels which let us determine outcomes, as well as the cost of getting there. So we began experimenting with Display Advertising through Google AdWords. By using VisitorTrack, we can track the anonymous web visitors responding to our campaigns. As a result, we improve the ROI through visibility into a whole additional set of prospect targets. Then we discovered we’d fallen victim to “Click Junk”.

For those unfamiliar with this real estate in the digital advertising land-grab, the advertiser prepares a series of images in a variety of sizes (in formats like .gif, .jpg, .png) and puts a link to a landing page behind them. These display ads are placed outside of Google’s search listings onto other participating websites. The advertiser pays a fee based on impressions delivered or upon clicks. That website owner gets a piece of the action. And Google, who provides the platform and marketplace, presumably gets some share of the proceeds.

After initial testing, we liked the affordability of the clicks originating from these placements. This averaged – for netFactor – about 8% – 12% of the cost for a PPC-driven ad response. We found conversion rates were much lower but, due to the lower cost-per-click, these display ads as a b2b lead generator vs. branding medium offered some promise. Our next step was the design of new ad creatives, A/B testing, and then increasing our budget and reach across the Google network.

“…these display ads as a b2b lead generator vs. branding medium offered some promise.”

Once our new ads were completed and determined acceptable by Google’s approval people (more officially known as the Ads Review Team), they began their run. This time round with an even bigger daily spend and reach across the display ad network. The results were impressive. According to the AdWords metrics anyways. Impressions soared, the click rates went up correspondingly, and it was all right there in our web console. Then the visibility of otherwise anonymous website visitors coming from these clicks came sharply into focus.


VisitorTrack is like Caller ID for your Website

Now we drink coffee from our own beans. Our VisitorTrack reporting uncovered a surge in universities and colleges showing up. Lots of them. This is odd because we target B2B companies. More specifically, we do not sell to consumers. And while most of us attended (and even graduated from) a higher-ed institution, they’re just not our market. So how did all these halls of ivy find their way to our website?

VisitorTrack provides a number of visibility features which let us take a deep dive into our own anonymous website visitors. We could quickly trace these visits were occurring from the Google display ads. There is a specific landing page earmarked for this campaign which only display ad respondents would go to.

So while the AdWords console told a story from an aggregate campaign level about the volume of clicks, VisitorTrack quickly uncovered their character. These respondents were almost totally from an educational institution access. Few of these clicks ever viewed more than a single web page! Our paid-for website visitors were Click Junk! You can click to enlarge the screenshot on the left that shows the detail behind who these visitors really are.


If you think about colleges, it is likely most of the visits occur from students. After all, how many students are using the campus Internet access at any time vs. teachers or staff? In many ways colleges should be considered to be not unlike an ISP.

But then suspicion crept in – could these website visits actually be evidence of Click Fraud? Are college students looking for some easy money being put up to clicking by some evil enterprise? This use to be the work conducted in the back-rooms of third-world countries. Or, and entirely worse, have our campus networks been compromised by hijackers performing fraudulent clicks? Our Googling of Google Click Fraud uncovered a number of results which supported an interpretation these website visitors could indeed be nefarious.

“It’s not unusual for a client to panic because a significant portion of their traffic is coming from the same place, only to finally discover that the suspect IP address belonged to proxy server at a public place like a coffee shop, airport, or university.”



The next chapter in our story involved outreach to Google’s customer service. We’ve found them to be very helpful recently and they were intrigued by our circumstance. The call went something like this….



“How do you really know these were Universities?”


“We use VisitorTrack to identify anonymous web visitors. We can see them coming from this Adwords display campaign”


“What is VisitorTrack?”


“Well, VisitorTrack performs anonymous visitor identification to our website, and from where they came. They came from our Google display ad campaign.”



“Never heard of that. How do you know they came from Google?”


“We can see the landing page – it is not accessible by any other method other than from the display ad campaign. Also, we can see the gcld (a Google Click ID). And we can see detail on each of these visitors. They are colleges and schools.”


“Oh. Can you send me this report?”
And so the report was sent.  Now we await the review and reply from Google. As the case unwinds we will post the progress.

Springtime in the Denver Tech Center

Springtime in the Denver Tech Center

Looking out from netFactor’s Offices in the Rocky Mountains


It looks like at long last springtime may have come to the Denver Tech Center where the netFactor offices are located. Hard to believe that just this week, the third week of May, Pike’s Peak got two feet of snow!

As a SaaS software provider our customers are located all over the world. And while we interact with them regularly, it has struck me that many will never have the opportunity to visit our offices in beautiful Colorado (or “Colorful Colorado”as the signs claim when you drive across the border from one of those other big square states out here in the west….). It is truly a special place to live and work of which we are very proud.

While we will most often post more “heady” content in our Blog about all things Anonymous Website Visitor Tracking and B2B Lead Gen, from time to time it is good to observe that other world going on just outside of our window. To see life being reborn, and wonder at that great circle as I have done this morning.

Now the other side of this story, and since we have dog-friendly offices, you can just imagine the frenzy our canine friends have been having at their encounter with this circle of life!

We hope springtime has come to your home and work location – and that you can find some time to enjoy the coming of the season and new life going on outside of your own window.


What’s your App?

What’s your App?

Join me in a Web Clinic – Integrate VisitorTrack into Hundreds of Web-Based Applications through Zapier

Thursday, April 21st: 2:00 2:30 pm EST


Join the Web Clinic: Register Here

by Christopher Jeffers: CEO and Founder of netFactor Corporation

I am pleased to announce the launch of VisitorTrack onto the Zapier integration platform.

What does this mean for our users?

Now you can seamlessly transport website visitor contact records out of VisitorTrack into the web-based applications your company uses. Salesforce. Hubspot. Constant Contact, Pardot MailChimp – over 500 different apps!

Zapier is the hottest integration “hub” in the marketplace. We’ve been working hard to build into this platform to enable a whole new level of sales and marketing effectiveness for VisitorTrack users.

  • Automate tasks to move complete contact records from VisitorTrack into the apps you use
  • Create new workflows which enable real-time selling and marketing to the best web prospects
  • Simplify manual batch export of groups of contact records from VisitorTrack into designated applications such as an email list

Please join me in a Web Clinic to discover powerful new capabilities which will extend the power of anonymous website visitor tracking. In this 30 minute webinar I will demonstrate the following:

Introduction of Zapier – learn about this powerful platform for integration of web apps

New Sales & Marketing Capabilities – you’ll be presented with several use cases which extend VisitorTrack into a whole-new array of tactics

CRM Integration Walkthrough – I’ll demonstrate an example of just how easy it is to hook VisitorTrack into CRM

Free Offer – Participants will be provided a special one-on one consultation to connect their VisitorTrack account into Zapier

I hope you will join me in this fast-paced Web Clinic.  This is open to VisitorTrack Users and Partners through registration at:

Sales flat-lining?  Maybe it’s not your Strategy.  Maybe it’s your Operating Model.

Sales flat-lining? Maybe it’s not your Strategy. Maybe it’s your Operating Model.

thumbs up and thumbs down hand signsEvery business experiences sales cycles. 

Sales pipelines and close rates ebb and flow based on many factors – some are market driven, some are internally driven.  Business leaders learn to expect these sales cycles and plan accordingly.

But, when sales stagnate or decline for multiple months, there is something else happening.  Since most business executives are “big picture” thinkers, their natural tendency is to first examine the business strategy.  Has the market fundamentally shifted such that the product-market fit has weakened?  Are new competitors in the game taking market share?  Have the partners and allies changed direction?  Is the product being disrupted by new technology?  Any number of strategic factors may be the root cause of sustained sales stagnation, and business leaders need to continually monitor what’s happening outside the company for their business to remain relevant.

Strategy changes take lots of time and planning to implement. 

If your sales have flat-lined, you need to respond quickly.  Time is not on your side.  In these situations, look at your Operating Model.  Where Strategy is all about the “why” and “what” of your business, the Operating Model is about “how” – it’s about execution.  When sales stagnate or decline, in addition to examining your strategy, examine your customer acquisition Operating Model.  You may have hidden opportunities to recover sales growth and earnings by making changes to how you find and acquire customers.

To start this examination, map out exactly how you acquire customers today.  This map is your status quo.  For most businesses, the customer acquisition status quo looks very similar to how other companies in their industry acquire customers:

  • Marketing generates awareness using advertisement, direct marketing, email campaigns, tradeshows, webinars, social media, analyst relations, etc.
  • Marketing creates “pull” to the website using email campaigns, webinars, social media, and SEO/PPC
  • Marketing captures the names of interested prospects (aka “leads”) via web form registrations, tradeshow giveaways, and webinar registrations
  • Leads (names) are passed to Sales for Sales to qualify for Budget, Authority, Need, and Timing (BANT)
  • Sales engages the qualified prospects and, hopefully, closes most as new customers
  • Rinse and repeat.

If you have been in business any length of time, you have optimized your customer acquisition Operating Model around status quo.  The problem with status quo is that it gets comfortable.  But if sales stagnate, chances are your customer acquisition Operating Model is stale.  Status quo is no longer getting the job done.  It’s time to change status quo.

Here are some ideas for adapting your customer acquisition Operating Model:

  1. Think like your prospect. How do they find out about potential solutions to their business problems? What do they do to research their alternatives? Who do they listen to for ideas?
  2. Re-examine your marketing communication channels. Most of the research today is done by Millennials. Millennials are tech savvy and social media mavens. They don’t “do” tradeshows and their preferred communication platform is text, not email.
  3. Entertain to educate. Are you still publishing product-centric white papers? Publish a short, fun video on YouTube instead. Sixty minute webinars? Too long. Make webinars thirty minutes or less and feature one of your customers telling their story of how your product or service helped them.
  4. Set your content free. Any marketing content worth publishing must be frictionless to access. If you still require your web visitors to fill out a form before they can access your content, you are telling 95% of your readers to go away. Better yet, publish your content openly in social media.
  5. Open the aperture. A good collection rate of web visitors who self-identify is 2% – 3% of all web visitors. If your web lead capture is focused only on the visitors who self-identify, you are wasting a valuable resource. Invest in a solution to identify the other 97% of your web visitors, and make sure the solution you implement can also tell you what these visitors looked at.

Sales cycles are normal for all businesses; sales stagnation or decline is not normal.  When sales flat-line over an extended period, it’s time to re-examine both your business strategy and your customer acquisition Operating Model.  Fixing your business strategy may be what’s needed for (re)gaining long term sustainable competitive advantage.  In the meantime, re-examine how you acquire customers and be prepared to change status quo.

Be Your Own Marketing Chef

Be Your Own Marketing Chef

thumbs up and thumbs down hand signsOne of my favorite pastimes is cooking or should I say actually eating! I love to try unique recipes that offer incredible ingredients that are simple, but yet complex.  Although I love to cook, I just don’t have the time to expend making that perfect bite each day.  Renowned celebrity chef Bobby Flay has summed this up perfectly.

“Basically, there are two things we know: Everyone has less time, and the general public is demanding better food – better in terms of quality and better in terms of flavor” – Bobby Flay

In today’s competitive B2B world, finding that perfect bite is the key to success.  Marketers are always searching for the right mix of key ingredients to support their company’s sales efforts while at the same time tasked with forming great content, blogging, social media posts and creating support materials.  You get the picture. In many cases, lead generation takes a back seat or at least the quality of leads passed to the sales team leaves something to be desired (not appealing to the palette).  With the ever changing B2B landscape buyers can get most of the way through the buying process before ever contacting a vendor.  All sales team asks for is that they receive quality leads that they can turn into revenue quickly.  This is not a complex dish by any means!

By chance, if you are a marketing automation user you probably feel you have the complete recipe.  Just like non users, unfortunately, you are still missing this one key ingredient.  This one key ingredient is something very simple.  Anonymous web visitor tracking.  When this ingredient is added to the mix, life becomes a little more savory for everyone!  What sales person is not going to be thrilled to receive a lead that is actually qualified!  Through anonymous visitor tracking, both marketing and sales can achieve their respective goals.  Not only do you know when visitors spent time checking out your website, your sales team has valuable information telling them what and how many pages where visited, which means getting ahead of their competition.

Sounds like a recipe made in heaven to me!

VisitorTrack by netFactor offers this incredible ingredient!  By adding VisitorTrack to your marketing and sales mix, the perfect bite can be created. With only about 2% of all web visitors filling out forms, it is even more important to capture those invisible visitors that are researching your products and services and leaving before they fill out a form.  VisitorTrack provides key contact data so your team can get ahead of the competition.  By adding this last ingredient your recipe is now complete.

Be your own marketing chef.  So don’t’ feed your sales team leftovers when you can provide the perfect bite!  You will be the life of your party and as they say in the culinary world, you are as Cool as a Cucumber!  By creating better leads you add quality and flavor to your marketing efforts in a short amount of time.  Bobby would be proud!