Using Best Practices and Automation to Increase Revenues

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This afternoon I was sitting in a meeting discussing a potential upcoming marketing campaign to target developers.  It’s a great concept, and I am looking forward to seeing it come to fruition.  However, during the course of the discussion, it became clear that ad buys would be the primary driver of traffic.

My chief concern was that the developer audience uses ad blocker software at a higher rate than the general population.  We don’t have data on it, and no one was sure how to get it.  I asked the community at Hacker News, and was pointed to this posting about the downloads of AdBlock Plus.  That was a good start, but to really get an answer about which we could feel happy I came up with this hack to get quick and dirty numbers.

This is the part where I learned the following formula:

Scott Hanselman Influence + Survey Monkey + Basic Account = Fail

To get started, I created a survey up at Survey Monkey.  Unfortunately, the basic account has a cap at 100 responses for any survey.  I pinged Scott once I had the link set up, asking for help from his tweeple.  I set up the link so that I could track clicks on the survey, versus just knowing how many people took it.  Within, and this is not a joke, a few minutes, I had hit my cap.  Whoops.  Within the time it took me to get a credit card into the system, I lost about 150 to 200 clicks.  I would never have known about the survey being closed had @BrianGorbett been on the spot to point it out.

If you happen to work at Survey Monkey, here’s a potential feature.  Don’t close the survey.  Continue to collect the data, but only show me the first 100 responses.  Holding the data captive is a far more likely upgrade path than me coming in after the fact and deciding to upgrade.  I will like be happy with 100 responses, and probably wouldn’t have known about the survey closing to so many others (especially if Twitter streams come into play).  I have no idea how many of their surveys hit the 100 response limit, and what their convert ratio is on those basic users to upgrade to premium, but my need was now, not tomorrow.  I don’t know when I will need another survey, and had Brian not pointed it out, I would never have known, and wouldn’t have upgraded my account.  That would have been $19.99 lost dollars you didn’t get.

The survey is still open, but as of this writing, I had 991 clicks, about 12 retweets, and 584 survey takers.  Awesome!  It was a pretty simple survey asking what type of developer you see yourself as, and whether or not you use ad blocking software.  I asked people to categorize themselves as “web app developer”, “enterprise developer”, “different kind of developer”, or “not a developer.”  The result is that 55% of the time, people are using AdBlockers.

  Use AdBlock?
No Yes Grand Total
Total 44.86% 55.14% 100.00%

More surprisingly was that it almost didn’t matter how you classified yourself, the percentages were pretty consistent.

  Use AdBlock?    
Type of Dev? No Yes Grand Total
A different kind of developer 40.35% 59.65% 100.00%
A web app developer 46.03% 53.97% 100.00%
An enterprise app developer 46.28% 53.72% 100.00%
Not a developer 43.33% 56.67% 100.00%
Grand Total 44.86% 55.14% 100.00%

 Looking at a breakdown by self-identified type, there are quite a few “enterprise” developers out there.  More than I would have thought given the audience of the tweets.

  Use AdBlock?    
Type of Dev? No Yes Grand Total
A different kind of developer 17.56% 21.12% 19.52%
A web app developer 44.27% 42.24% 43.15%
An enterprise app developer 33.21% 31.37% 32.19%
Not a developer 4.96% 5.28% 5.14%
Grand Total 100.00% 100.00% 100.00%

So there you go.  If you are thinking about using ads to drive traffic to a marketing campaign, you will want to consider what percentage of your audience is likely to never see the ads, and therefore how your results will be skewed.  I was surprised that for techies (since Twitter drove most of the clicks) were as likely to to have ad blocker turned activated regardless of whether they identified themselves as a dev or not.

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More Stories By Brandon Watson

Brandon Watson is Director for Windows Phone 7. He specifically focuses on developers and the developer platform. He rejoined Microsoft in 2008 after nearly a decade on Wall Street and running successful start-ups. He has both an engineering degree and an economics degree from the University of Pennsylvania, as well as an MBA from The Wharton School of Business, and blogs at