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How to Monitor the Quality of StumbleUpon Advertising Campaigns

Posted By Darren Rowse 5th of July 2008 Social Media 0 Comments

In a guest post Neil Matthews of ClickQualityConsultant.com writes about how we can monitor the quality of paid visits from a StumbleUpon advertising campaigns.

Darren advocates using paid advertising from StumbleUpon in his post Run a StumbleUpon Advertising campaign for your blog, as a way to build your blog’s audience. In this post I would like to expand on this and talk about how to monitor the click quality of your paid Stumbles to see if this type advertising is the correct fit for your blog.

What do I mean by click quality? I mean that the clicks are bringing a return on the advertising investment you make. This will vary from blog to blog. You may be after an increase in subscribers, for people to click more often on ASsense ads or that they contact you for consulting services. If you are spending money on StumbleUpon clicks you need to know how the campaign is performing and if this type of advertising works for your blog.

Firstly a quick recap on StumbleUpon (SU). I like to think of SU as TV channel surfing for the net. The Stumbler installs a toolbar into their browser, sets the type of site they are interested in and begins to stumble. SU selects a site at random from their database which matches your likes and sends it to your browser for your surfing pleasure. If the site is of interest you, you may engage and begin reading more deeply, you can then grant a thumbs up or down to the site to show if you approve of the content of not. The other option is just to skip past the site surfing for a new channel.

Running a paid SU advertising campaign, you pay 5 cents per display to have your site presented to the Stumblers in the demographic group you select. Your daily cost is set by the number of displays you want per day. For example 500 displays per day will cost 25 USD.

Stumblers are notoriously fickle, and if you are paying for clicks, it is important to check if the campaign is producing quality clicks, or are people just clicking away from your site. SU has its own quality check, it shows how many people have given you the thumbs up or down, this is reliant on the visitor, we need more quantifiable analytics to see if this form of advertising is bringing you any return on your investment.

The first thing to do is to highlight which referrals from SU are paid and which are organic. To do this, I amend the landing page of my campaign by adding a parameter to the end of the landing page URL for example:


Note that I use su rather than stumbleupon. Using the term stubleupon in paid ads is against their editorial policy and your ad will be rejected.

Next I analyse that traffic with an analytics package. For the purpose of this post I am using Google Analytics, it is free and very simple to use. Installing GA is relatively simple. To collect metrics you will need to create an account and then install a piece of JavaScript code onto every page you want to monitor. I have the code installed into the footer of my wordpress theme so that every page is monitored. Please refer to the Analytics site for details on installation.

Once my SU ad is running and I have collected a decent enough number of clicks for statistical analysis (a couple of hundred should suffice) I move onto the process of identifying the quality of those clicks.

From the analytics package I can get an overview of the landing pages on my site, as we can see from the screen dump I received 179 clicks from StumbleUpon


Drilling down into this metrics I am presented with the behaviour of the visitors from the stumble upon source


This give me good and bad news, only 12.35% of the visitors are bouncing away from my site immediately, there is a certain level of stickiness about the page and people on average are spending 41 seconds on my landing page. I am getting the engagement I was looking for, the disappointing side of this campaign is that nearly 90% of the visitors are reading one page and then leaving, there is no depth to their visit. That is the area I would focus on improving.

I think my problem is that I am sending Stumblers to my home page rather than to a specific landing post which can draw readers in more deeply.

Do I think I was getting good quality clicks from SU? Not really, the action I want is for visitors to move from the content into my consulting page. I would probably be better served sending traffic directly to that page rather than the home page.

Using this information I could the split test another landing page with a different source parameter and see how the two stack up against one another.

How do you decide if SU works for you? I would say the following metrics need to be analysed for your campaign:

  • Bounce rate – are visitors staying or moving on straight away. A sub 50% bounce rate is good
  • Length of visit – How long are people engaging on your sit, if it is only a second or two, less than the time it takes to read you posts, this is a bad sign?
  • Depth of visit – Are people reading more than one posts, have you caught the readers attention?
  • Goals – Google analytics has the option which allows you to set goals, in this example the goal was to move from the landing page to my consulting page. My research suggests that a 1% conversion rate of visits to goals is the minimum you should look for.

I have used this method across a number of different platforms including Facebook social ads, and when I buy advertising banner space. Monitoring and testing the quality of your paid advertising is the key to a good return on investment. If you don’t get the quality you need from that advertising source, drop the campaign and spend your money on quality clicks. If SU is poor consider Adwords, Yahoo, Facebook, MySpace or one of the many other paid internet marketing programmes.

Can I add a caveat to close this post? You may be tempted to use this method to reconcile the number of clicks paid for to the number of clicks received, but I would say that Google Analytics data can be wrong due to people running their browser with JavaScript disabled. If the code on you page is not activated, then no visit data will be captured. Click fraud investigations require log file analysis tools to ensure the validity of your claims.

Test your quality, make incremental changes and test again. This is the way to get the best bang for your buck.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. Do I think I was getting good quality clicks from SU? Not really, the action I want is for visitors to move from the content into my consulting page. I would probably be better served sending traffic directly to that page rather than the home page.

    Isn’t the SU crowd known for being averse to anything that looks like self-promotion? If you had chosen to direct visitors straight to your consulting page, wouldn’t you be subject to several thumbs down?

    Anyway, thank you for this article. I’ve read a lot on paid SU campaigns, but still hadn’t found a detailed post on how to accurately track and evaluate results. Your tips certainly help a lot. :-)

  2. I always check Analytics after Stumbling any of my posts, it really gives me in depth details on what is going on.

  3. Terry says: 07/05/2008 at 8:15 am

    I reckon if you wrote interesting articles that weren’t top 10 lists or funny cat photos, then you’d probably get eyeballs without needing to advertise to get people to read your blog.

    What would I know though, as soon as I read the first 3 sentences I scrolled down here to post this comment.

    I certainly won’t be back and my adblock and javascript blocking addins mean you won’t get a cent of revunue either!

    Bugger eh?

  4. Thanks for the breakdown. I have never considered paying for SU visitors, but there is that saying “never say never” right?

  5. I think that paying for a SU ad campaign might make sense for a person that is trying to sell their services or even a specific product.

    For me, paying in hopes that my Adsense or Amazon click rate increases doesn’t make sense.

    I’m pretty sure it doesn’t make sense to pay just to get more page views.

    The article was well written and researched. It is meant for people who have a specific “sales” niche they need eyes for.

    The Masked Millionaire

  6. T don’t use SU..
    Maybe I’ll consider to using SU next..

  7. Very informative post, Neil.

    I’ve used StumbleUpon ads in the past, but I’m not sure whether or not it was effective. Intuitively I think I may have gotten a new subscriber or two to my feed.

    But your method of using Google Analytics for analysis is excellent, because I understand how to use it more effectively, period, and I’ll be using it for future campaigns on my current blog, and on the new one I’m launching.

    And Darren and Neil, I’m going to “stumble” this!

    Whaddya know…a “freebie!” ;o)

    Thanks again!

  8. Very interesting post… I have recently started a blog @ http://www.StocksHaven.com (which I would like to add that it is my first one) and you are the prime influencing reasons behind it. I found this article very interesting as I use google analytics as well. Keep up the good work!

  9. I haven’t paid for SU yet and don’t think I’ll be doing it in the future. Out of 100 SU hits, I get maybe 5 people who will actually stick around on the site more than a second or two.

    Especially with the dating niche, it seems to be difficult to get people to stick around if you’re not advertising guaranteed 100% effective seduction techniques. ;-)

  10. Hello Neil. I think what some people are missing is how Darren’s original post wasn’t just about using paid advertising on SU to drive traffic and business to your site, it was also about using it for a learning curve.

    It’s a social experiment, you could say. Then by using analytics from Google and SU you can see how people interact with your website and can use that information to create a better marketing campaign.

    In business (and everything), knowledge is power.

    Aside from that, good post. The funny thing is I found this post through SU!

  11. Trying to monitor the traffic you “buy” is very important since not all traffic bought is the same. SU users might read your page while visitors gained from adwords or popups like zango might glance at your page for a second before closing it (not to mention traffic bought from less known companies that might just send you bot traffic). one of the most important metric in these cases is how long did visitors visit the web page. For my last campaign i used http://www.pagealizer.com to find out if the traffic/visitors i bought read my pages or just passed by. SU traffic read my page longer than adwords and popups. I guess its so since SU visitors do not know its a sponsored page and believe its just another page SU members recommended.

  12. Based upon my previous results with stumbleupon there is a certain level of click-thrus noticeable for me, but not high. When waged against the price it’d be to buy those stumblers to my site or entries I think I’d get back roughly 0.1% of what I’d have invested in it :P.

    Also 25 USD for 500 visits from SU is extremely expensive, I have some entries which have received tens of thousands of hits by them at no cost at all, why pay when it’s obtainable for free as well? I don’t see much reason to it.

  13. I have found in my SU advertising campaigns that they have been fairly ineffective to converting traffic into readers, I believe that they cost more than they are worth at the moment.
    This is a great post though as it has helped me have a different look at my advertising campaigns for my financial blog

  14. Thanks for the insightful article! I was just considering using SU ads and it sounds like it might be useful. :)

  15. I have Bell’s Palsy and enjoy your blog very much. First time I’ve commented, but have been reading here and there.
    Great blog. I enjoy reading it every chance I get and value your opinions!

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