A Tale of Three Media

Donovan Cronkhite
President, RJM

Posted On March 12, 2012

They say that numbers never lie, and in this case, that may have never been a more true statement. During a recent client campaign, RjM was able to put three different online media up against each other. With each media getting the same goals, budget and timeline, patterns started to emerge that we can use to shape all future campaigns.

The Basics

Over the course of ten days, RjM began digital advertising campaigns with Google, Facebook and MLive. Each placement was different in its own way, but all three were run with the same total budget and over the same ten days. Each referred traffic back to the home page of the website, which was specially modified to reflect the content of the ads. Over the course of the media buy, the combination of these three campaigns helped to more than double the total traffic to the website, compared to the previous ten days, and increased page views by 60%. Overall, the campaign was a great success.


Facebook allows you to purchase demographically targeted display advertising. This demographic targeting can be broken down by a person’s list of interests, age, gender, marital status and location. This works well for reaching a passive audience who may not realize that they’re interested in your product or service. This consumer is not actively searching for your product, but since your ad so closely matches their interest, they are drawn to your website.

The analytics that Facebook produced for the time period were impressive. For an average of $1.15 per click, 188 visitors were driven to the website from this platform. Of these visitors, nearly 90% of them had never visited the website before. While pages per visit (2.75) and time spent on site (2:12) were lower than the site average, they were still at an acceptable level considering the traffic being driven was of a passive interest.

Overall, Facebook provided an excellent way to expose a brand to new customers for an attractive price. With creative ads aimed at peaking interest and creating a vision, Facebook can be a worthwhile outlet for gaining new website traffic.

Google AdWords

Unlike Facebook, Google AdWords allows you to target an audience actively searching for your product. AdWords are purchased by a target location, then through an extensive list of search terms that will trigger your ad to be shown. The advantage of this keyword matching system is that over the course of a campaign, the ads and keywords can be constantly tweaked to produce the most effective results. Even over ten days, RjM was able to compare the ad campaign to website analytics to increase time spent on site while reducing bounce rate.

Google’s overall cost per click was higher, coming in at an average of $2.35 per click, and drove a total of 253 visitors to the website. Each day our overall budget was being reached, as finding an interested audience on Google was hardly a challenge. Again, 90% of these visitors had not visited the website before. Google delivered a better pages-per-visit (2.94) and a lower bounce rate, but a slightly lower time-spent-on-site (1:41). The drop in time on site could be contributed partly to the fact that a more informed and focused audience was coming to the site from Google, but we also believe that over time campaign settings could have been analyzed and updated to deliver as good, if not better, statistics than Facebook.

Google provides the perfect platform to deliver an exact response to a customer inquiry. This audience wants to find your product, and if you can deliver an appropriate answer, they’ll reward you with their business. Google AdWords requires a much more active role in managing the campaign, but making the effort to monitor it daily will certainly yield the best results.


MLive is a different media platform in several ways. First, their ads are purchased on an impression basis instead of a click basis, meaning that you pay a fixed cost based not on how much traffic they drive to your website, but upon how many people see the ad. This makes them much more like a traditional media, such as outdoor, than a digital media. Second, the ads are graphical banner ads instead of a text based search ad. Third, the targeting on this media is limited to only the location of the website visitor as there is no demographic or search targeting capability.

To say that the results of this ad group was disappointing would be an understatement. For the same budget as Facebook and Google, MLive only delivered 26 people to the website for approximately $23.00 per click. For this price, the traffic driven was of the lowest quality of all three sources - only 1.85 pages-per-visit, with time-on-site being a scant 0:40 per visit. This source also had the highest bounce rate of all at nearly 75%.

For many of the reasons that caused AdAge to recently call for the death of cost per impression advertising the only reason to purchase this type of online advertising is that if you firmly believe that the branding value of these ads far outweighs the value they provide for driving website traffic.

Display ads such as these also come with analytics from the media partner. Here we stumbled upon another interesting twist. The analytics provided by MLive initially showed an additional 24 visitors through their ads. After some consideration, we came to the conclusion that these 24 visitors did indeed click on the ad, but they were not on the website long enough to load the tracking script for Google Analytics - which for all purposes is not very long.

The Result

While website traffic is all well and good, the real proof of these overall campaigns was at the store itself. While tracing the return on investment all the way back to sales is unavailable, sales were up almost 300%. RjM was also told that the traffic to the store during this time period was made up of an entirely new customer base and that the owner, “didn’t know where they came from. But it wasn’t the direct mail and it wasn’t the newspaper.”

If we had to do it over again, we would have removed the MLive portion of this campaign and directed the funds used there to provide more support in the Facebook and Google AdWords campaigns. With the ability to directly influence customers interested in the product, these media outlets are infinitely more effective than the general advertising that MLive provides. The advantages that Google AdWords provides, in both deep analytics integration and the ability modify campaign settings on a daily basis, means that over a length of time, Google AdWords could become one of the most cost effective means of marketing today.