The CPC Illusion

29 May 2018

When I entered the advertising industry last year, I was determined to follow a simple rule: be honest. The ad industry has always carried a stigma of being dirty and dishonest. That’s why Code Sponsor followed Eric Holscher’s “Ethical Advertising” philosophy. Part of this to me meant that the advertisers only pay for clicks that not from bots, duplicate clicks and fraudulent attempts.

CPC (cost per click) has been the cornerstone of our business since day 1. In our 100% open source refactor of CodeFund, we are still only charging on a CPC basis. I had always considered this as a competitive advantage.

This is how our platform worked (based on the visitors interactions):

  1. The user clicks the ad on the publisher’s website
  2. The user is redirected to CodeFund
  3. CodeFund records the click, charges the advertiser, and allocates distributions for the publisher
  4. User is redirected to the advertiser’s website
  5. Advertiser tracks the user session on Google Analytics
calculated at symbolab.com

The problem that this creates for our advertisers is that our data can no longer be relied on, which means they can’t accurately budget their CPC in their ad spend.

Use a 3rd party to verify the data

After searching our code for any type of redirect failure, we decided to set up a 3rd party to track redirects. We set up a bit.ly account and added the final redirect URLs, then added them to CodeFund. This way, whenever a user clicks an ad, we will track it internally, and bit.ly can verify that the user was redirected to the advertiser’s website.

Here’s the flow:

  1. The user clicks the ad on the publisher’s website
  2. The user is redirected to CodeFund
  3. CodeFund records the click, charges the advertiser, and allocates distributions for the publisher
  4. User is redirected to bit.ly
  5. bit.ly tracks the visit
  6. User is redirected to the advertiser’s website
  7. Advertiser tracks the user session on Google Analytics
  8. Is Google Analytics is being blocked by user’s browsers?
  9. Are clicks somehow being triggered by a browser extension behind the scenes
  10. Could there be a bug in Google Analytics?
  11. Guaranteed impressions to reach target audience
  12. Control of cost and visibility
  13. Easy to calculate
  14. Publishers can easily calculate how much they will make based on traffic

CPM coming in June

We are actively working on a solution that will continue to provide high value to both our advertisers and publishers using the CPM model. This change will take place in the first half of June. Our goal has and always will be to help provide funding to the developer community through ethical advertising, and we believe these changes are critical in doing so.

We would like to thank our advertisers and publishers for their patience as we work all this out.

If you have any questions, please reach out to me at eric [at] codefund.io or join our slack channel (#codefund) at https://gitcoin.co/slack.