Google / DoubleClick Ad Planner: Competitive Intelligence Analysis

pollen 1Google's Ad Planner is less a competitive intelligence tool and more a tool that gives fantastic insights into understanding behavior of visitors to your website in context of the broader ecosystem.

It also helps answer critical questions that have thus far stymied Online Marketers of all shapes and sizes (especially those in charge of acquisition).

For example, ever wondered not just how many Unique Visitors your competitor got but also if there is any overlap between their visitors and those that visit your website?

Or what are the demographic and psychographic attributes of those visitors?

Or you need to boost revenue by 900% in one week and what websites should you target in terms of purchasing ads so you can find the right audience and get those relevant conversions?

Or compute the amount of potential exposure your ads can get across a complex media plan (which you have created and saved for future reference in a free tool)?

If the answer to any of the above questions is yes then my dear dear friend the missing ingredient from your life is the Google Ad Planner! :)

This is the second post in our recent Competitive Intelligence series. The first one was on Google Trends for Websites , check that out for awesome true CI insights.

As in that case my hope here is to share with you the unique data and functionality that the Ad Planner provides, but more than that I hope to teach you how to think uniquely.

google ad planner tool

The Basics: Research Your Website / Your Competitor's.

So this is the nice stuff, click on the Begin Research button in the Ad Planner and you are all set to go when it comes to understanding the basics of what the tool can offer.

[sidenote]
Google's Ad Planner is currently in a Beta program and you have to apply to get access to it. The wonderful folks on the team tell me that access is provided to anyone who applies, and the process takes just a few days. This week they'll try to be extra diligent and get everyone in as soon as they can – and we will send warm hugs to them for helping readers of this blog.
[/sidenote]

In the left nav type in the name of the website and hit Add and boom (!) you have your first taste of data representing metrics for the last 30 days. . . .

google ad planner omniture

Here's how to read that data:

  • www.omniture.com was visited by 150k Unique Visitors who were from the United States
  • This audience represented a 0.1% reach of the US audience (not bad for web analytics!)
  • This audience also represents consumption of approximately 210 million page views from all their browsing behavior (obviously not just on omniture.com, though I am sure that would make Omniture very happy! :)).

In the right frame of the page (which is a lot more useful later in your analysis) the data is represented thusly. . . .

google ad planner omniture 2

Now you also have a feel for Omniture's page views there.

Next up the wonderful feature where you can get a much better understanding of the demographic and psychographic attributes of the Visitors to Omniture's website. Simply click on the icon above next to the website's name, and you get this. . . .

omniture website audience characteristics

So these kinds of people like to pay lots for web analytics. :^) Just kidding!

One important thing to note is that it would cost you lots of money to get this kind of data with any degree of confidence, it is now free. So use it.

The wonderful thing about this is you can start to form the basics of a persona of the kind of people who visit Omniture's website. I was for example really surprised about how many were there from the lower household income ranges.

Perhaps they are there to learn from Omniture (validating Mr. Funk's strategy of having quality educational content on the website).

Perhaps it also indicates that people who actually sign large sized chq's could not be bothered with learning anything themselves. Zing! : )

But it is in the contrast that this data shines.

For example visitors to coremetrics.com are a lot more likely to be highly educated (by almost 18%) and with far far higher incomes (by atleast 20%)! That can give you a pause, if you owned omniture.com, and see if your marketing programs are actually driving the right kind of traffic to your website. The hypothesis being that people with higher income profiles and higher education will, supposedly, cut bigger chq's!

Or why is it that when almost every good Web Analyst I know is a female that there is a grand canyon sized gap between the male-female ratio for www.webtrends.com? Wrong targeting?

You catch my drift about all the things you can do, remember: contrast gives context which gives insights.

Finally you can compare and contrast site traffic data quite easily, just punch 'em into the left navigation and boom!

site traffic comparison coremetrics webtrends kaushiknet

Guess which one is CoreMetrics, Kaushik.net and WebTrends?

Yeah baby, www.kaushik.net/avinash, is #2! [Sure a little braggy, but you will indulge me just this once right?]

WebTrends is at 84k worldwide in the last 30 days (I just need another 20k! :)). To get the worldwide data you'll simply green "graph icon" next to the site's name in the results.

Again food for thought if you are running those websites and want to get context to your performance against a random blogger.

[sidenote]
Quick update post post posting :), here are links about Ad Planner data:

[/sidenote]

The Advanced: Research Ecosystem, Customer Behavior, "Related Sites".

One of the core drivers behind creation of the Ad Planner was to:

Empower Advertisers and Marketers to identify related websites and audiences that they are interested in.

Here is an example, I wanted to compare my own performance, for www.kaushik.net, with the various web analytics vendors, with a eye towards understanding audience differences. Here's what it looks like [for the US traffic]. . . .

google ad planner site traffic comparisons

Notice an interesting thing that the Google Ad Planner Tool does. When I typed in the first five websites listed above the Ad Planner it will also bring forth "related websites" based on the audience persona (or technically: demographic and psychographic attributes). The last three above.

So even as you go about your merry business the delightful tool will highlight to you others you might not be thinking of, WAA for example. They were not top of mind, but now I see them there and I can dig in and compare traffic stats and the types of personas etc.

The website's you notice are sorted by Comp Index. Here's the definition: The composition index shows how concentrated your audience is on a specific site relative to internet users within the country you have specified.

The higher the number the more overlap in the kind of audience you have chosen.

What the analysis above shows is that audiences who visit kaushik.net are significantly likely to visit the web analytics vendors websites (indextools especially, Dennis you owe me something!). Those visiting the WAA are likely as well, but a lot less.

Let's apply this to a real world example, after a while web analytics is a boring. :)

I recently had the pleasure of speaking to a august audience at the P&G headquarters in lovely Cincinnati. Wanting to brush up on them a bit (and what better way to do that then use CI tools – free tip for you all), I used the Ad Planner to understand www.pampers.com.

If you type that in you get this nice bit of data. . . .

google ad planner pampers

You get a very fast snapshot of the core metrics of the Pampers website. But more than that I also get a really wonderful understanding of the websites that its audience visit and just looking from the names I can get a feel for the persona of that audience (free stuff 4 baby, freebiecountry :).

The next thing I did was to click on that "green graph" icon next to the site's name and get the demographic attributes of the audience.

Of course waaaay lop sided towards females (what is up with that, I made all the diaper decisions for our family!). But I was not sure of the context so I compared that data with the one for huggies (the biggest competitor).

comparison pampers and huggies sm

It turns out that Pampers gets a lot more traffic than the main huggies website (which seriously could use the touch of a decently qualified UI and UX person), but the demographics show that the persona of the visitors to the huggies website is that of slightly younger women who might have slightly less education and have a slightly less household income.

Interesting.

If I am recalling correctly that is also an audience where the birth rate is higher and growing per the latest US census. So as the highly paid Brand Manager of Pampers I would like to be in front of that audience, and possibly sell lots more diapers.

So what to do? Throw up more tv ads and indulge in other "faith based initiatives"?

Nah!

Go back into the ad planner and create a media plan that you can hold vastly more accountable.

I go back and choose the attributes of the audience that I want to target with my advertising. . . .

google ad planner media plan

And as soon as I hit that last check box I get a list of websites that are visited by the customer profile I have created (approximated 13 million Unique Visitors in the US!).

Perfect for me both in terms of figuring out the unique persona I am interested in. . . .

google ad planner media plan target websites

Nice ain't it?

I understand my website better as a part of the ecosystem. I understand a specific competitor and their strengths. I can then go in and find the audience that is their strength. All for free. :)

The Awesome: Identify Advertising Available, Create Your Media Plan.

The Ad Planner will not only help you identify the optimal targets for your advertising opportunities (along with key data such as unique visitors and all that nice candy), it also helps you get key data, where available, about options for actual ads you can run.

For the websites above (perfect for the Brand Manager for Pampers). . . .

google ad planner media plan ad options

The last two columns show if advertising is available on those sites through Google and if so then approximately how many impressions and what kinds of ad formats. Text ads, image ads, video ads and gadget ads.

For many sites Google does not have ads to sell (like on cafemom.com or forever21.com above). Nonetheless this data is still very helpful to you in then going and buying that ad inventory elsewhere, while silently thanking Uncle Google for helping you get access to this delightful data! :)

And it goes without saying that you can save your media plan, you can create as many of them as you would like to (say you are a advertising agency with many clients) and yes you can even export all this data into Excel.

This post started by mentioning that the Google Ad Planner product is less a competitive intelligence tool and more a tool that provides you free access to some absolutely delightful demographic and psychographic data that is useful and actionable. Hopefully by walking through the cases above you'll see exactly how it does that.

Regardless of your use of the Ad Planner I hope that you'll be a lot more aware of the data that is available to you and exactly how you could use it.

Finally, if you want to learn more about the "unreliable world of online marketing and analytics" then might I recommend my good friend Ian Thomas's blog Lies, Damned Lies… He has recently switched from a Analytics role at Microsoft to a Advertising role, I think you'll appreciate his insights and, perhaps even more, his distinct sense of humor.

Ok your turn now.

What do you think of all this? Surprised to find it on a "web analytics blog"? No? Yes? Why? Have you used the Ad Planner? What do you think of it? Tried some other tools? What do you think of them? Notice my distinct lack of encouragement for you to use demographic data in a silo and just on your site?

Please share your feedback, ideas, critique and love.

Thanks.

PS:
Couple other related posts you might find interesting:

Ad Planner Help:

Comments

  1. 1

    Excellent post Avinash!

    This data is really amazing. My only problem when using these tools (Trends and probably Ad Planner) is the sample size. Unfortunately, our clients are not always as big as pampers…

    But it is really impressive how much data you can get for free. However, the fact that it is free may sometimes hinder people; like those that have to pay a swim class, otherwise they just don't go to the swimming pool. But if they pay they feel obliged. Makes sense?

    But since most of your readers are Web Analysts, this problem is insignificant ;-)

  2. 2
    Robbin Steif says:

    Avinash, I don't understand comp index and why Dennis owes you. It isn't as if you have defined your audience as WA readers (the way that the definition says, you can define your audience as men.) Well maybe, by choosing all WA sites, *have* you automatically chosen a WA audience? How does Indextool's 130,000 relate to your 100,000?

    Robbin ps I checked "notify me of followup comments via email" to make your life easy. I should get that plugin, too.

  3. 3

    Thanks Avinash for sharing. Not surprised at all to find it on a web analytics blog. The competitive tools are really coming into the space now.

    Looking forward to having a look at this tool myself. It looks a bit like Quantcast.

    Could you tell us where the data is coming from? Gmail? The Google toolbar? other panels? How does Google calculate the UV counts to each site? And if you don't mind sharing how accurate is it in comparison to your own web analytics figures?

    The figures show you had 24K unique visitors from the US (over some given time period). How close was the Google estimate to your figures in Google Analytics and IndexTools over the same time period? Just interested to know what level of error we might expect.

  4. 4
    Alice Cooper's Stalker says:

    Avinash,

    The field of web analytics is vast and the amount of support the business wants out of an analytics analyst doesn't seem to have bounderies…at least from my experience. The boundries continue to get pushed. So, to answer your question, I'm not surprised to see this as a post topic on your blog.

    You've just shown me how to use a tool I was aware of in a new (and very useful) way. I've always wanted to disect a competitor's site's media plan. This is a useful tool in helping to do that.

    You mention in your blog posting that the data represent's the past 30 days of data. Can you provide more detail on that? I didn't see that number on the page. I think it would be helpful, from a reporting standpoint, if Google had the date range posted for the values it's reporting on unique visitors and page views. Dates mean EVERYTHING. Depending on the business you are in, seasonal trends come into play and can heavily influence the data you are looking at. Imagine how Best Buy's traffic looks around pre-Christmas time versus the middle of March. Also, where is this data sourced from? You talked a bit in your last blog about quantcast data versus compete.com, etc. I'd like to know where this data is coming from.

    Thanks!

  5. 5

    Steve,

    Let me admit a bias: I think it is wrong to focus how different numbers between any competitive intelligence tool and your own analytics tool are. Its like comparing apples to monkeys. Not even the same species. Plus it always ends up being a sub optimal exercise that misses the point, and value of the data, and sends nice people on wild goose chases.

    My suspicion is that you and I agree on that.

    With that out of the way….

    No matter what tool you use, HitWise, Compete, Google Trends or Ad Planner, ComScore, your number will never tie. More than that they will never even match from month to month (hence the futility of "indexing" the numbers or identifying "level of error").

    The CI tool is not there for you to gain confidence about your website metrics, it is there to help you and I and all readers of this blog, i.e. beings of superior intellect, to look at an ecosystem of websites through *a common lens*. One that equals out other biases and applies the same levels of errors.

    The data might not be 100% accurate, but it is quite precise in what it shows and can be very useful in finding actionable insights.

    Someone a while back put it very nicely in their comment: "its comparing rotten apples to rotten apples". :)

    My rule is simple, using any tool: Compare "like minded" websites and that smooths out lots of things that might affect the data.

    So comparing pampers and huggies is an example. Or what I started with, Omniture, WebTrends, IndexTools etc. Putting my blog there is no a example of "like minded" (that was just for fun!).

    But just for fun: I use ClickTracks as my tool of record – I love it so! – and in the lats 30 days it reports 60,564 Visits, 48% from the US. So that's 29k compared to 24k from the Ad Planner for the US. And 61k compared to 63k for a worldwide audience. I am astonished at how close it is, even as I stress that it is irrelevant, for a tiny blog. Also remember: YMMV!

    As always the larger the site, the stronger the signal from all the noise. No matter what tool you use.

    Here is the link to the faq on data (from the links to Help I had included at the end of my post):

    I am thrilled to have you and others choose to learn about the data and make a informed decision, rather than just take the opinions (or worse!) from others. :)

    Thanks,

    Avinash.

  6. 6

    Daniel: Ahh… yes the curse of small sites. :) But you have to admit that on any scale my blog is microscopic when it comes to traffic, I was astounded to find a signal.

    I think you are referring more to non-US sites and in that case the data capture mechanisms for any CI tool (compete, hitwise, google, comscore ….) are simply not there yet. But if anything the US is a leading indicator and in as much perhaps over time this problem will also be solved.

    With regards to people not using free tool and needing the kick in the butt of paying for something……. to each unto their own. To me the trend of having free tools (be they Analytics or Flickr or WordPress or Ad Planner or name your own) is about creating a more democratic world in terms of tools, platforms and access to data. No one needs to feel left out from the best that is out there, not online.

    Some people, intelligent, will see the value and use the tools and platforms available for their benefit (usually at a fantastic impact on their balance sheet). Others will not see the value and evolution will take care of that problem. [Not trying to be mean, just hinting that it will take a new generation of Marketers and Decision Makers who get it.]

    Free tools are not the answer, paid tools are not the answer. The answer is your willingness to want to be better.

    No tool, or human, can solve that problem.

    Robbin: You are giving me a hard time aren't you.

    The numbers indicate that people who visit my blog are 130,000% more likely the same audience profile as IndexTools.com. Ignore the percent, just a lot higher chance.

    Since I have used IndexTools on this blog from day one and featured it a lot (probably just as much as ClickTracks!), I was hypothesizing that that might have positive impact on that high chance.

    Makes sense?

    Alice Cooper’s Stalker: Links to "how the data is collected" in the reply to Steve above (and also added to the post itself now).

    In terms of your feedback, the data is for the last 30 days. I agree allowing the user to choose the time frame would be better, or atleast listing what the date range is in the tool would be good. I am sure the team is listening to your feedback (the tool's still in beta!).

    Thanks!!

    -Avinash.

  7. 7
    Harvey Peterson says:

    This is a fantastic post Avinash. I am responsible for media plans at my agency and we have been paying hundereds of thousands of dollars for this kind of information, it is nice that Google is making it available for free.

    My initial impressions of the data are very good, quite comparable to our own sources. The Ad Planner features are not quite there yet but hopefully the tool will mature as it comes out of beta.

    To answer your question, I did learn a couple new ways in which I can think about this data.

  8. 8
    Ned says:

    Avinash- this was one of those intellectual posts that I really enjoyed. Not only did I like the information provided (which I think is of great value and something that can be put to immediate use) but you have piqued my curiousity on the ease at which you got it. And I loved the Media Plan option — one of the tasks I have always felt challenged with in terms of making it optimal.

  9. 9
    Kris G says:

    ooooh. I love it. This can further prove that the thousands and thousands we spend quite literally blindly, on ad space is only benefiting those CEO's childrens as they walk up the stairs to their private school, rather than our websites traffic and goals.

    All jokes aside this is absolutely great. It will be good to use against comscore and other sources to get a more comprehensive look at what sites we should be targeting.

    I wonder if there are any other companies out there who's first reaction upon finding out this is "Oh my god, our info is out there for anybody to see!!! Damn you Google!!!"

  10. 10
    Adnan Ali says:

    Avinash,

    Great post as usual and I really appreciate this series of posts on competitive intelligence tools.

    What if I want to track the same demographic data about my own site. What is the best way for me to do so while engaging the visitors other than exit surveys?

    Best regards,

    Adnan

  11. 11
    Floris says:

    Very interesting. Competitive intelligence is open and clear for everyone now.

  12. 12
    Mike says:

    Thanks for this post Avinash. What are your thoughts on this tool vs. Quantcast…the data and functionality seems very similar on the surface.

    Keep up the great work.

  13. 13
    Phil Decoteau says:

    Great post and insights into Google's new tool. Your post was infinitely more helpful than Google's own Ad Planner seminar by actually highlighting how it can be differentiated from the multitude of media planning tools out there!

    Interesting to actually see Google slowly (but not so subtly) shift from search giant to ALL media (even offline!) and media planning strategies. As an employee at a full-service agency it will be good to keep an eye on how Google almost single handedly shifts/combines the responsibilities of media buying and interactive. Thanks again, good stuff as always.

  14. 14

    @Avinash: we do agree. I know the numbers would never tie and it’s just my general inquisitiveness getting the better of me. I am also surprised at how close your two numbers are.

    Would you agree that CI data would be better if we could somehow (and I'm just speculating) verify to some level the accuracy of the data?

  15. 15

    Kris: I am sure that some uninformed people will say "damn you google". Mostly because they are unaware that this data was already out there and available, in exchange for massive dollars, from entities like ComScore, Neilsen, HitWise, Quantcast etc etc.

    The informed ones will probably say "thank you google" :), because now they can access their own data for free and also take advantage of their competitor's data.

    The other thing to consider is that for Publishers who want advertising on their website this is a great mechanism / "marketplace" to highlight the value that advertising on their websites and the kinds of relevant audiences, or not, that that they can effectively deliver. That will give the advertisers more confidence in results, more accountability. Win-win.

    Adnan: Perhaps you can email me a bit more context / clarification, unfortunately I don't understand your question.

    If you want data for your own website just use the Ad Planner.

    If, assuming a bit here, you don't have data for your site in the Ad Planner (because of small size) you could see if it is in HitWise, which is a paid tool but also has this kind of data and it is a tool I am quite fond of. If that does

    If it does not exist there then you could get it from something like a 4Q type onexit survey.

    Mike: Here's my personal perspective on quantcast from a recent comment:

    "Unsure of the real value in terms of others out there. When I have used the site the signal is not very strong from the noise. On paper they are certainly on the right path, I am positive in time they’ll get there.

    Until then I am much happier with Compete, Google Trends for Website, HitWise and others I mention in the post."

    In summary: It is a matter of how big the noise is that is being listened to and the ability to parse a signal from that noise.

    Steve: I assure you that I have let my own inquisitiveness get the better of me way more than you!!

    In terms of "verify". I think it sounds good on paper, and this is my personal opinion, I am not sure that there is a incentive structure in place for any vendor to participate in that. As you and I well know this is not unique to Competitive Intelligence, this is exactly the same case with Web Analytics as well.

    Hence the stress on not so much understanding which tool is most accurate, but rather gaining strong confidence, through public research, which one is least inaccurate. :)

    -Avinash.

  16. 16
    Jean-Pierre Tanguay says:

    Great post and a superb book. On the topic of CI, here's a challenge I have : how do you get data for a specific market, say business VS consumer?

    If you're part of a company like HP that targets consumer AND business customers, and your focus is on the business division, how would you measure yourself to Dell, that also has a business division. Simply comparing the main domains (hp.com VS dell.com) won't provide actionnable information because of the lack of segmentation. Thanks.

  17. 17
    Ian Thomas says:

    Thanks for the shout-out, Avinash. This is a fascinating post.

    Cheers,
    Ian

  18. 18

    Jean-Pierre: Currently you won't get it out of the Ad Planner or Trends for Websites, though Google Insights for Search has category level competitive intelligence.

    If you really want in depth data at a category level then start with Compete (not the free version, the paid version) or you could directly jump to HitWise. Of the two HitWise has the greatest flexibility and depth (it does live up to its high price tag).

    You could also go with a custom study from any of the competitive intelligence vendors and they'll happily do this for you. I recently reviewed a study pretty much like what you were looking for (but this one was the phone industry). It took two months to produce and was US $300,000. It was good.

    So that could also be a option for you.

    -Avinash.

  19. 19
    Daya says:

    Avinash,

    Thanks for a wonderful insight on Ad planner. I must say you walked us through the tool in a very simple a constructive way. I think now I will be more effective in using the tool and will be spending less time in exploring the tool. Let me use AD Planner and get back to you with any questions I may have.

    Thanks once again

  20. 20
    Justo Ibarra says:

    Avinash:

    Pretty useful review!! I just did a review on Adplanner as quick as Adplanner was launched and I found many shortcomings for websites outside US.

    Many sites were incorrectly categorized, as well as lack of data into demographic profiles for countries in Latin America.

    For me is understandable in a beta version, but I was surprised with disclaimers like "you have specified an audience too small" when I choose all age segments (excluded 25-34) in Argentina or even females for the same country.

  21. 21
    Sidney Song says:

    Hi, Avinash,

    Very good post. I knew the tool for some time, but don't know it has so great data for research.

    One quick question:

    You mean we can compare and contrast site traffic data quite easily by just punching ‘em into the left navigation. But I haven't found such a function in my Planner. Is there such a function? I think I have to do manually comparison by open multiple windows.

    Could explain? Thanks.

  22. 22
    Linda Bustos says:

    This is exciting – I can see this being used for link building as well as advertising. It looks like a great tool for ad targeting that should improve conversions from the content network :)

    So, not surprised to see it on an analytics blog – very relevant! I signed up and can't wait to get my hands on the data.

  23. 23

    Justo: I am positive that the data gets weaker as you try to move outside the US and Europe. That is just a reflection of the data available in those countries.

    This is a problem that challenges all competitive intelligence tools. Perhaps with time it will be less of an issue for all vendors.

    I am actually quite pleased that it says "audience too small" rather than trying to provide data that does not have enough confidence and statistical levels.

    Better to be safe than sorry. :)

    Sidney: There might be some confusion here.

    I was referring to adding sites using the left navigation option. As in this screenshot. . .


    Add Sites in the Ad Planner

    If you were referring to comparing the demographic data for different sites, then you are right that you would have to open multiple windows.

    Hope this helps,

    Avinash.

  24. 24
    Richard Hearne says:

    Hi Avinash

    Hoping they might give me access to beta under the guise I signed up for, but to date I've heard nothing back. DO you know anything about the waiting list for the program?

    Rgds and thanks in advance
    Richard

  25. 25
    Jose D. says:

    Hi Avinash,

    Excelent post as always. I was just using Google insights looking at Ad Planner, Comscore, Quancast and similar, and I found this article:

    http://www.webpronews.com/topnews/2008/08/15/battelle-google-ad-planner-underreporting-site-traffic

    1. Do you think that Ad Planner is "significantly under-reporting reality"? Why or why not? How to tackle this problem and still make good use of this information? (If it is still possible of course ;)

    2. If so, is it really a problem to under-report traffic?

    2. How about "biasing numbers" towards the usage of Google Toolbar?

    3. I was checking the Google Ad Planner help page and it says that "opt-in anonymous Google Analytics data" is one of the sources of information. So what would happen if a particular website don't want to share this information an don't activate this option in Google Analytics? Would this particular website be underrepresented? Will a competitor who opted-in have an advantage in the ratings?

    Thank you for your answer and for your interesting post.

    Jose

  26. 26

    Jose: Answers below….

    1. Do you think that Ad Planner is "significantly under-reporting reality"? Why or why not? How to tackle this problem and still make good use of this information? (If it is still possible of course ;)

    This begs the question, what's reality? :)

    On a more serious note, each person's / website's mileage may wary. Here's my own comparison of my own numbers:

    http://www.kaushik.net/avinash/2008/08/competitive-intelligence-analysis-google-ad-planner.html#comment-470790

    It is spooky how close they are, even for a small site. Remember YMMV.

    I am sure you read my recommendation in the post: 1) understand how the data is captured. 2) compare trends.

    There is unquestionable value in this data.

    If so, is it really a problem to under-report traffic?

    See above.

    2. How about "biasing numbers" towards the usage of Google Toolbar?

    Each data source, ComScore / HitWise / Compete, will have its own unique bias. There is no reason that Google's data should be any different. I am unsure that there is a particular Toolbar bias, but it is important to understand all the sources used. Here are the links that are in the post above:

    3. I was checking the Google Ad Planner help page and it says that "opt-in anonymous Google Analytics data" is one of the sources of information. So what would happen if a particular website don't want to share this information an don't activate this option in Google Analytics? Would this particular website be underrepresented? Will a competitor who opted-in have an advantage in the ratings?

    I am sure you read the link that was included in the post: How does Google Ad-Planner user GA Data (third link above).

    There are a billion sites in the world and only millions on GA. :) It would be a sub optimal strategy for Google to create a global web tool and use a limited view tool (GA) to influence site metrics.

    Weather you opt you data in or out has no influence on your metrics in the Ad Planner.

    Hope this helps,

    Avinash.

  27. 27
    Adam Howitt says:

    Hi Avinash,

    Great post and welcome inclusion on your blog, especially in the context of the CI series. I applied last week when I read the post but I think my invitation got lost in the mail ;-) Do you have any idea if they are still dishing out beta accounts?

    Thanks for your continued support of the Analytics community and your book sits in the hands of most of my clients.

    Adam

  28. 28
    Zac says:

    I noticed if I am the official owner of the website that I can edit the data. Do you think this will compromise the integrity of the information in any way? Since I am not officially authorized to update content for my company I could not see the details of the process and what can actually be changed. It was just a cause for concern on my part, especially when making marketing decisions.

    For example, could you change your demographic data to 'accurately' reflect information on the given report?

  29. 29

    Zac: I am not sure I understand your comment. But let me try…

    If you use Google Analytics on your site you can link your site data to the Ad Planner data. This would allow the Ad Planner to show two metrics from your GA data next to your Ad Planner data. Without your permission the Ad Planner does not have any of your GA data in it.

    Other than that you cannot add or edit any other data in the Ad Planner. In some ways that would reduce the integrity of the data.

    -Avinash.

  30. 30
    Greg John says:

    Can we still use Adplanner, would like to make better adds for TheSteamStore. com

  31. 31

    Hi Avinash,
    I've been looking for a Google Analytics plugin that can give me details on visitor income and education levels based on US zip code as determined by visitor i.p. Is there such a plugin? If not are there other tools that can provide such information?

    While Ad Planner is useful, it's aggregate info for the site and does not help me break down the data from sources and campaigns.

    Any guidance in the right direction will be most helpful.

    Regards,
    Rehan

    Ps. Your book, an hour a day is fantastic and is the bible in our office.

  32. 32

    Rehan: You have two options:

    You can purchase the Claritas Prizm data.

    Or you can also purchase access to HitWise Demographics data.

    Both tools will give you demographics by Geo or demographics by geo for a site.

    Avinash.

  33. 33
    Ankit Garg says:

    I did not know much about CI or even how to use analytics properly. As mentioned in one of your posts, to me analytics only meant Google Analytics.

    It has been a real nice learning curve for me in the field of analytics. I have tried Google trends and Ad Planner after reading your posts.

    Avinash have one little query though. Would you be able to suggest any tool to have demographic profile for people of India?

  34. 34
    Mark Carter says:

    Hi there – fantastic article, as always.

    Could you tell me where Google get their data from for this tool? It's fascinating how much data is there, and what you can do with it, as you've excellently highlighted, but where does this all come from in the first place? Is it limited to sites that have done PPC in the past, for example?

    Many thanks,

    Mark

Trackbacks

  1. [...]
    I am not the first to mention it, but it is just to important. So I just have to mention it on this blog.

    Competitive intelligence is now for everybody. And again it’s free.

    Avinash Kaushik, webanalytics expert and author of the book Webanalytics an hour a day, is explaining competitive intelligence on his analytics weblog. This week he is explaining the use of Google Ad Planner to get information about your competitors audience. You get demographics and psychographics about their website visitors and you can easily compare it with your own.

    He is even giving a Procter & Gamble example. So read this article.
    [...]

  2. [...]
    Google Ad Planner May Make Ad Sense Profitable Again

    Google Ad Planner will spread more of the growing Internet advertising income across more Web sites.

    However, to earn your share, your Web site has to get 3000 visitors per month, and you have to be an Ad Sense site. If your site qualifies, you may start earning more Ad Sense revenue. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Google Ad Planner revolutionize Ad Sense.

    You can read what other bloggers are saying about Google Ad Planner through the links below:

    http://www.tribbleagency.com/?p=1195 http://searchengineland.com/080624-104519.php http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/06/23/google-to-unveil-new-ad-planning-tool/ http://blog.domaintools.com/2008/07/google-ad-planner/ http://www.kaushik.net/avinash/2008/08/competitive-intelligence-analysis-google-ad-planner.html [...]

  3. [...] And get the inside word from Google's Analytics Evangelist, Avinash Kaushik at Occam's Razor. [...]

  4. [...]
    Google Ad Planner er et rigtigt godt stykke værktøj, der kan hjælpe dig med at se hvordan dine konkurrenter ligger i svinget, men kan selvfølgelig også bruges til optimering af online marketing strategier. Officelt er Google ad planner ikke åbnet for alle endnu, men du kan tilmelde dig deres BETA tester program her.

    Avinash Kaushik har skrevet en rigtigt god artikel omkring dette nye værktøj, hvor han kommer med lidt tips og tricks til brugen af det.
    [...]

  5. [...] En su día, Adrián Segovia ya escribió de lo que significa para el mercado publicitario online, y cómo no Avinash también nos explicó cómo utilizar Google Ad Planner para el análisis de la competencia. [...]

  6. [...]
    Ad Planner has huge potential with their incredible database of marketing intelligence. Learn more about Ad Planner from this great post by Avinash Kaushik.
    [...]

  7. [...] Avinash Kaushik post or his more recent post Paris Hilton Kim Kardashian Telling Stories With Data [...]

  8. [...] Avinash Kaushik post or his some-more new post Paris Hilton Kim Kardashian Telling Stories With Data [...]

  9. [...] 57. Google Ad Planner a tool that gives fantastic insights into understanding behavior of visitors to your website in context of the broader ecosystem. My friend Avinash, wrote a great primer on how to use it for competitive intelligence. [...]

  10. [...] 73. Google Ad Planner a tool that gives fantastic insights into understanding behavior of visitors to your website in context of the broader ecosystem. My friend Avinash, wrote a great primer on how to use it for competitive intelligence. [...]

  11. [...]
    These are initial ideas that should be discussed and improved based on the website and the target being studied. As the analysis gets deeper, the insights will become more valuable.

    Bonus: Instead of looking for your audience and which sites they visit, you can also look into your competitors’ sites and understand which segments they are attracting that you are not. Read more about it on Avinash’s post: Competitive Intelligence Analysis: Google / DoubleClick Ad Planner.
    [...]

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