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Review Asrep (Third party reporter for Google Adsense )

© November 2005 Anthony Lawrence

Google Analytics has added most of what Asrep did.

Just to cover the basics. Adsense TM is a trademark of Google, Inc. and Asrep (link dead, sorry) is an entirely separate company who sells a reporting package that tracks the details of Google AdSense activity.

Google TM won't tell you what pages of yours have the best click through rate, won't tell you the ip of the person clicking, and won't tell you the ad(s) they clicked on, or anything at all about the time of day any of this happened. Asrep tells you all of that and more.

I don't understand why Google won't provide publishers (the folks like us who run the ads) the kind of detail that Asrep gives us, but they don't, and I suppose Asrep is happy about that because otherwise they'd have a tough sell.

While we're talking about things I don't know, I should also say that I don't know why I waited so long to buy Asrep; for some reason I thought it was much more expensive than the incredibly reasonable $50.00 that they charge.

You could write this kind of thing yourself: it's just Javascript talking to a back end script. I even thought about that; but I'm weak on the JS side so for that little money, I'd rather buy it.

You can download a free evaluation copy (Perl or PHP); it runs forever, but lacks features of the full unit. You need MySQL to use Asrep; that's a reasonable requirement for something like this.

Let me get some negatives out of the way first. These are all incredibly minor nit-picking that shouldn't for a minute dissuade you from purchasing Asrep.

First, I had a minor bug in the registration process where the page displays this error:

 Caught exception: Can't use string ("https://www.asrep.com/cgi-bin/s/u")
 as a HASH ref while "strict refs" in use

As this was on a Sunday, and late in the day at that, I didn't expect to get any help, but I sent off an email and to my surprise had an answer within minutes. That was quite pleasant. Actually, it wasn't an answer to the problem, but the response included the updated code which gave me the full version, which was all I really needed.

The setup was easy, but the reporting screen confused me at first, and there's no obvious help. It's really not difficult, but there's a lot of options, and it's not immediately obvious what is happening when you turn options on and off. As the demo version has all the options to choose from (even though they don't work), this makes it even more confusing. But I'm sure you will figure it all out just as I did; it's not as bad as it first looks.

Further complicating that confusion was the fact that the display is badly munged in Firefox on my Mac. Elements are out of place and sometimes hide other parts of the report, adding to my puzzlement. However, Safari displays this perfectly and beautifully.

I'm not enamored of the reporting facilities anyway. They do a good, basic job, but I'm demanding and fussy; I want what I want. As one of the options is to export to CSV, I can do whatever I like. Also, since the data is stored in a MySQL table, I could go after it directly and again extract just what I want to see. I like it when a tool doesn't try to get in your way.

With these features, I can now tell which pages attract the most click throughs. This will hopefully help me improve the pages that aren't doing as well by mimicking the characteristics of the best pages, or by writing new pages on the same general subject matter. As I've said before, I don't mean that ad revenue should drive my writing, but if I have a choice of writing about X or Y, and X pays better, I think I'll write more about X.

What's still lacking here (Google's fault, not Asrep's) is a correlation of specific clicks to income. Google doesn't tell you what time anything happens, and their reporting is clumpy so even if you track it yourself at small intervals, you can't get a fine grained picture of the events. You can get some idea, though, and matching Google reports to Asrep reports can, over time, zero in on the highest paying pages.

See Lessons learned from Asrep and Using Google Channels to test layouts also.

Got something to add? Send me email.

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-> Review Asrep (Third party reporter for Google Adsense )

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