Self Hosted Vs Cloud Based Tracking Solutions

by smiket
11 replies
This is for our awesome PPC magicians:

I need to track a page with multiple products on it, from multiple affiliate networks. Since I'll be paying for the traffic, I need really sharp tracking solutions to figure out what works and what doesn't. Some networks support pixel tracking, others tid/subid.

I already know about prosper and cpvlab, but I signed up for an online tracking software that looks pretty awesome. I am worried that the people running the software will be able to access my best converting kw. Like I said, I respect their work, that's why I do not want to name the service, but I am fairly new to this kind of tracking, so I do not know what to expect.

Is my paid-for-data going to be safe with this kind of service, or should I opt for a self-hosted solution?
#analytics #based #cloud #hosted #ppc #solutions #tracking
  • Profile picture of the author Greedy
    I would recommend prosper202 or CPVLab, self hosting is the way to go. You have more control over security, server speed ect...
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  • Profile picture of the author AlyseS
    I'm not exactly a PPC magician, but I have tried both self-hosted (Prosper202) and hosted (Improvely) tracking software. I started with Prosper202, and then I stopped doing paid advertising for a bit.

    I'm running ads again, and I decided to switch from Prosper202 to Improvely, because:

    I had time zone & date issues
    Prosper202 had a glitch that never let me change my time zone in the settings. It was a nightmare trying to optimize my ads & keep track of things when I had to manage 4 different times zones (prosper202's reporting, my local, facebook's & my CPA network's time zone) and 2 different dates (I live on the other side of the date line).

    In Improvely, my time zone is correct, and I can set the time zone of each affiliate network for uploading commissions reports, so I have less of a headache.

    I don't want another hosting account (VPS)
    I already have more than 1 hosting account, and I'm trying to keep my business as simplified as possible.

    I can manage my entire business's analytics, conversions and tracking in one place
    I can manage email marketing, SEO, search traffic, organic traffic, affiliate, CPA, social media etc in one dashboard.

    I'm starting to sound like a salesperson...that's not intended .

    And I know most people wouldn't trust a third party with their tracking data, but honestly, if you have a hosting account all the employees at that company have access to your Prosper202 data and your landing pages. So I don't really see the difference. Maybe I'm missing something....

    And even if someone does steal your campaigns, they can't steal your brain, so you can always keep making money and change services. Worrying about this kind of stuff is pointless....I'd rather just focus on working.

    Anyways, I'm finding Improvely much easier to use, because it has a much better user interface than Prosper202. Also it's faster at loading/redirecting to landing and product pages than when I was running Prosper202 on a VPS.

    For me and my business, it's just the right decision at the moment, as I'm really trying not sweat the small stuff and just execute campaigns as fast and easy as possible.

    Oh and about security, I have a tendency to get lost down technology rabbit holes spending hours on things that aren't making me money. I'd rather let someone who actually knows what they're doing handle securing my data (in this case), than me spending hours learning about securing a VPS and Prosper202 and still having to worry about being hacked, because I don't really know what I'm doing.

    Can you PM the hosted service you're trying out?
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    • Profile picture of the author Nanville
      Hi AlyseS,

      Can you clarify: Which hosting company are you using for your VPS? When you say you can manage everything from your dashboard, is that with Improvely?

      Thank you for your help.
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  • As the developer of a self hosted solution (Prosper202) I still recommend and believe most affiliates would be much better off on a hosted solution. Of course I'd want it to be with us but Improvely, Voluum and other hosted solutions also have their pros and cons and may be a better fit for some.

    A lot of the points AlyseS said are very valid. There are very few people/affiliates that can optimize and manage a server for Prosper202 or any other self-hosted tracking software the way an expert can.

    That's why I launched the hosted Tracking202 service and partner with hosting companies that manage most of the tech issues.

    PS: The timezone issue was fixed in the 1.8.x release of Prosper202
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  • Profile picture of the author AlyseS
    Hey Nana, I was waiting for it. Too bad I didn't get to see it. I'm sure it's helped a lot of people manage their campaigns much easier though.
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  • Profile picture of the author smiket

    I have tried Improvely - they are good, but I can't track intermediate events with their software. Plus, their support is not as fast responding or detailed as I'd wish - this is due to the fact that they are a smaller company. The interface is rigid and ordering everything so I can analyze trends takes a not inconsiderable amount of work in excel. Like AlyseS says, I don't need any extra work that doesn't bring me money. (Points go to Prosper for the reports that I can easily digest). I'm sure that Improvely's team is trying hard and that they will do good for themselves in the future, but I am also trying to develop a business and I can't do without a certain amount of technical support that is the single major reason that I'm paying them for.

    Like everyone else, I have tried Prosper in the past. It would make me consider Tracking202, but I can't afford the price tag + VPS price, yet.

    The next leg of the journey will be clickmeter. For $34/month they offer all the whistles and bells that I need. They keep pushing their $99/month plan, which comes with A-Z technical support, but, once again I can't afford it, yet. The solution would be paying it for a month until I get the custom conversion codes generated and installed for proper tracking of the whole funnel and then switching back to the cheaper plan. I'll see if I can work out something with them.

    Voluum looks awesome, too. Bit pricey.

    A lot of the free and 30-something bucks/month plans that a lot of these companies offer look like a "you don't know how to properly use Google Analytics, so we'll offer you something slightly less useful " tax to me. If I don't get the proper support, interface and features, I might as well learn how to write my own js to pass url parameters from one link to another and be done with it.

    Still, extra points go to Nana for Prosper202, which is awesome, and generally being there for people like me.
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  • Profile picture of the author Dan Grossman
    Originally Posted by smiket View Post

    I am worried that the people running the software will be able to access my best converting kw.
    It's really not in any of these platforms' best interest to do anything underhanded like that. As soon as someone copies one campaign from a super affiliate (and we have many of them doing thousands of dollars in commissions per day), they'd figure it out and spread word. Pretty quickly, all those super affiliates and all the future potential high-value users of that platform will know to stay away from it, and the analytics company will have lost much more revenue than they earned from copying some short-term affiliate promotion.

    As someone who runs an analytics company, we don't have the time or inclination to be looking at customers' ads except to provide support, and we're just not in that business anyway. The only place I think this kind of thing is a realistic concern is with affiliate managers at small networks, not your analytics tools or web hosts (who could see everything if you host your own analytics with Prosper202 or the like).
    Improvely: Built to track, test and optimize your marketing.

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  • Profile picture of the author smiket
    Hi Dan,

    Thanks for your reply. I was hoping you'd see my post.

    You are right, "serious" affiliate networks and tracking software companies would never do that. It's just hard to discern which ones are serious and which one are not. There is a way around that, so you don't have to send over any keywords to the affiliate network, or even to the tracking software(unless you need dynamic landing pages).

    I still think it's a valid concern, which needs to be addressed. If I spend thousands of dollars to optimize my campaigns, pruning the keywords and optimizing geo, dayparting, etc, I would definitely need to be convinced that some under-payed employee will not get piggybacking ideas. This is especially valid for tracking companies outside of the US. And here's a thought - you don't even need to be a super affiliate to want to hide your keywords: if you have active campaigns on Bing and Google, etc. and you are doing good on some low competition keywords, you definitely want to keep those away from your competition in any and every way possible.

    Voluum seems to have understood this point of view and they are using it as one of their USPs. Everyone else can and should do the same thing, especially promising companies that want to keep on growing. It's like being a banker and explaining someone that deposits their first 100k with you why their money are safe.

    Tracking is the single-most important thing that you can make you or break you with online marketing. It's a new-ish field and it is very fast evolving. I am just trying to keep the pace and learn how to use it like a pro. There are only so many existing super-affiliates to share between all the tracking companies . I feel that some of these should look into growing together with their more insignificant, smaller account paying customers. And that can be done through support, decent tutorials and a few essential features.
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  • Profile picture of the author MrPete2000
    I personally think that most people should rely on the cloud hosted services. Some of the main points are:

    - Uptime. Most affiliates will try to install a self hosted solution on shared hosting (terrible idea), or spend more money for a VPS, and still not know how to optimize the server/software.

    - Self hosted solutions are built to be simple to install and configure, and performance is not always going to be on par with the cloud hosted version. This is ok, and just a compromise between complexity and convenience, but when pushing high traffic, especially when it's paid traffic, this becomes an issue.

    - Without optimization, self hosted solutions can slow down over time.

    - Backups become your responsibility on a self hosted solution.

    All in all, your time is better spent creating campaigns than trying to manage and monitor a tracking system.

    Also, as mentioned, these guys are in the business of providing a service, not stealing campaigns; I personally wouldn't worry about it so much.


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  • Profile picture of the author MusicMinCoach
    I'm so glad I've found this thread. I've been searching the forum for hours. I'm at a place in my business where I can simply no longer avoid this and I have definitely been avoiding it.It all seems so complicated. But I saw a webinar that really opened my eyes to what I've been doing wrong in my business.

    1. Not focusing on list building
    2. Not tracking and knowing my numbers.

    This guy explained how he absolutely kills it by simply knowing how much he spends per lead and spending less than that on his advertising. He also talked about how he tracks how much he makes per subscriber. It really opened my eyes. Do the software companies you guys have mentioned so far show those kinds of numbers?

    This gentleman showed many screenshots from inside of his software and it seemed to show him these numbers. I don't feel like I know enough about tracking to make an intelligent decision here. I've come across Improvely just searching online, but I'm just learning about the other options. I use wordpress and promote my own products. But I'm still pretty green and I get bogged down easily with stuff others find effortless.

    Don't wish to hijack the thread, but if you have a suggestion for one of these options you think might fit my situation best I'd welcome a p.m. Otherwise I've subscribed and will keep reading. Great feedback so far.
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  • Profile picture of the author Dan Grossman
    Originally Posted by MusicMinCoach

    Do the software companies you guys have mentioned so far show those kinds of numbers?
    Improvely gives you these numbers for every traffic source, paid and organic.

    Ex, here's a snippet of a report for 3 different ads:

    The metric you're talking about here is "RPP", which stands for Revenue Per Person. RPP is a great metric to track because it tracks with both conversion rate and customer lifetime value in a single number. If your RPP, or the revenue you earn per person acquired from this traffic source, is above your CPC, or the cost to acquire each click, then your campaign is profitable. The higher the ratio, the more profitable the ad and the more you should be focusing on getting as much traffic as you can from that source.
    Improvely: Built to track, test and optimize your marketing.

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