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My name's Joel Kelly and I live in Halifax, NS.

I'm a 20something guy doing digital and social media strategy for a Halifax-based marketing agency.

I'm a vegan nerd and marketing asshole.

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Contact me about whatever (like, say, your marketing questions) at

Monday, June 23, 2008

Traffic Ain’t Everything

In fact, it's almost nothing.

“How much traffic does your site get?” This is a question commercial websites get asked a lot.

And it makes sense, right? If you’re paying to put an ad on a website, you want as many people as possible to see it, so you’d want to make sure that lots of people visit the site.

Well, that’s just not how it works.

See, most of these sites sell on a CPM basis. This means that you’re only paying when someone sees your ad. So if you buy 10,000 impressions (or 10,000 instances of someone seeing the ad), then it often makes little difference how much traffic the site gets.

If you’re considering purchasing ad space online, “traffic” is simply not a thing to worry about in most cases. Reach might be. %Composition UV should be. But traffic? Not so much.

If it is a crucial part of your decision-making process, you’re thinking about the wrong things. You’re thinking that you’re buying space in a newspaper, or on a TV show. You’re thinking about Gross Rating Points. You’re not thinking that you’re advertising on the internet.

Internet advertising allows you to measure every single time someone sees an ad, every single time someone clicks an ad. You can see where they’re from (down to the postal/zip code), you can see what browser they’re using, whether they’re on dial-up or broadband, and so many more things. And many sites offer all of these things and more as targeting options. This is not TV, this is not radio.

Traffic isn’t a thing, people. Hitting your target demo precisely, and only paying when you do -- that’s a thing. That’s the thing that matters.

Slashdot has a ton of traffic, but if you’re selling nail polish*, that just doesn’t make a difference.

*Sorry to whip out the No Girls on Slashdot cliché, but you get my point.

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