Dear StarTribune online advertisers.
I think it’s great that you support Minneapolis’ major online media source. But, I think it’s worth understanding where some of your money is going.
Earlier this week, I clicked on a link to a StarTribune.com story from a Tweet or something. I’m not sure how I got there, but the point is that I found myself on a page of StarTribune.com. At that point, I realized that I didn’t have time to read the story on that page at the time so it sat idle in one of the open tabs in my FireFox browser.
As time passed, I noticed that the StarTribune kept force-refreshing the tab I didn’t have time to read, which meant that StarTribune was forcing new ads onto my browser whether I looked at them or not every 10 minutes. I can guarantee that they were seen by no one. This went on for around 4 hours, so if my calculations are correct the StarTribune forced 24 pages of ads onto my computer that someone paid for but no one saw.
The reason this ended after 4 hours is because I disconnected from the Internet at that time. My computer was still running. Ten minutes later, the tabs on my computer looked like this:
See the one that’s dead? That’s the StarTribune’s page that tried to force even more ads onto my browser only to find out that the Internet had been cut off.
Here’s the point: If you’re paying for space on the StarTribune.com on a CPM basis (based on ad impressions) there is no guarantee that a human saw the page you served since the StarTribune serves ads to people who have left for lunch, have more than one tab open in their browser, or who have died while their browser was open to StarTribune.com.
It’s also worth noting that the StarTribune seems to take pride in the Time On Site stats their website receives. That number is likely ridiculously skewed by people who were fired from their jobs six months ago while reading the sports section at work. Their old computers continue to run up the stats. Here is all you need to know about this: Time on site stats are based on a measure of when someone first visits a site and when they hit the last page they visit. If the StarTribune didn’t force-refresh their visitor’s browsers, would that number be lower or higher?
This isn’t to say that no one reads the StarTribune. It’s just important to understand that not all ads served by the StarTribune will be viewed by humans, so if your goal is to reach actually humans with money who may buy your (or your client’s) products, negotiate accordingly.