Friday, November 21, 2008

Online Customer Acquisition - Session ID vs Cookie Tracking

The following diagrams illustrate the difference between Session ID & Cookie based tracking

Session based tracking

Cookie based tracking

Most of the advertisers in India use Session based tracking to track performance. This is like evaluating a TV ad by correlating sales within 5 minutes of airing the Ad!! The effect of this tracking is that the Advertiser will allocate the Action /Sale to the LAST referrer. So say if a user sees a banner Ad for a job portal (for discussion sake let us say it is TimesJobs) on monday clicks on it and decides he will fill in the resume over the weekend since there is a lot of information to be provided which will take time. Let us say over the weekend he doesnt remember the exact spelling of the job portal and he goes to Google and types Jobs at Times and finds the link and then clicks and goes on to filling the resume. In this case is it fair to give ALL credit to Google?

See this in context of let us say a Bank that generates leads of credit cards. Online application forms of banks for Credit cards run in 4-5 pages and has information like PAN number etc. Lot of these details may not readily be available with the user or the user may just want to bookmark the page and come back to it later. Should the advertiser not recognise the role of the other referrers in the user journey before buying? It is a pity that Advertisers in India are not making use of wealth of information of a user journey before he finally buys from their site.

Fortunately Internet technology allows us to track all this, however, Advertisers must be willing to make use of superior technologies and must be willing to change their mid sets else they will never be able to fully optimise their online customer acquisition activities.