Let's say I paid a website to place a text link (linking to my website) on their sidebar as a paid advertisement. I now it is possible to count the number of clicks that link will generate but is it possible to count the number of impressions of that text link? Keep in mind that I want to do the count from my site.
Thanks for any ideas.
Being a text link, it would entirely be up to them to record the amount of impressions they make and report it back to you. Not much of a big thing to ask them so there shouldn't be much problem with that.
IF, however, you could put an image (hosted on your server) instead, you could then use a simple PHP script to make a record of the impression before serving the image up: either by giving them a link to a PHP file serving an image, or an image file which runs as a PHP script, or intercept the link to the image with a .htaccess rewrite.
That approach could then lead to some decent data collection - you can record the time when impressions are made, record the chances of your link being clicked at certain times or days (tracking them using cookies) and all sorts.
After asking this question, I thought about text-link ad servers like infolinks or other companies. I think I can learn how they do it by checking the code they give to publishers to put on their websites. Thanks for the image tip, I can use it for banner ads.
As far as I'm aware, they use a similar technique.
Say site A is the site to be advertised and site B is the site which advertises site A. The code put on site A is usually a small blank image or a script file. The image/script file is located on server A (or an intermediate, e.g. an advertising company's server). The loading of this file does two things. First, and most obviously, it can give information to the browser or user, by serving content. Secondly, and most importantly, the web request to the server fires some server-side magic on server A.
E.g. the browser on B loads a request from server A. The request on server A fires code which can give information to A's databases, gathered from the headers sent to the server by the browser during the request.
[ot]About 6 years back I started up a website which I updated daily with notes from science/maths lessons in school, with my own twist and some examples it became an added resource for people doing similar courses. I advertised on a local science forum with a small banner ad, which in fact linked to a PHP file. Every time the image loaded, I updated a text file with an incremented value. Every time the link was clicked, it ran a script which then updated a different file with an incremented value. When users left that page, another file was incremented. Pretty basic, but I figured this was a good way of keeping an eye on the statistics given to me by the forum admin when it came to paying for it.
It seemed like good value. A week or so later, I became suspicious when I found that I had a LOT of hits (considering the forum size and the simple content) to the page in the ad, but NONE of which went on to click for further information. When I updated my process to record as much info as possible on every page load and every click, and I found that most of the requests were from the same IP address, at highly regular intervals. The server admin had a bot running which faked an ad-click every 5 minutes. The requests to my server for the ad image were also faked. Turns out the advert only showed up on the forum when I was logged in, no other user even saw it.
Statistics are your friend.
Jake, thank you very much for the detailed explanation and sharing your case. I will work on something in the light of your guidance. I can't believe people can do such low things to make money. How can they even spend that undeserved money...
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