Have you ever clicked a link from Facebook and been served a page with so much advertising content on it that by the time it’s loaded you’ve actually forgotten the reason why you are on the page? Or perhaps you have tried to read an online edition from one of the UK’s most popular broadsheets? In fact it does not really matter where you go, the typical user-publisher experience can be summed up in the following words: “for fuck’s sake please click on this advert” (FFSPCOTA). The Digital Savvy managers of many leading publishing organizations are leveraging things like Domain Authority and other shortfalls in Goog’s ranking algo to ensure that the thinnest, most tenuous pieces of online content are being produced to simply capture website visitors in an attempt to try and get people to FFSPCOTA. As if you needed further proof, check out the cookie directive from the EU. The whole industry up in arms about how this would be a bad thing, how it was going to be complicated etc. etc. In a nutshell the policy could be summed up like this “Explain the shit you (the publisher/advertiser) collects, and do so in a language that makes sense, if someone doesn’t like it, let them opt-out”. Does that sound so bad to you? To me it sounds pretty reasonable. However, it’s a complete nightmare for those companies that are selling ad-space and guess who has the biggest voice online? The companies selling ad-space (in some cases they actually control the information too!).

Google, allegedly one of the world’s most respectful organization for things like copyright control, data scraping and generally requiring the delimiting of your entire business for free traffic in return for webmasters having to pay for their content to be served back to them (or thereabouts) in some kind of product, has also been worrying itself into a frenzy and we’ve seen new ad-sense mobile only ad-formats (which will not count towards your ad-block quota per page: read more crap in the faces of people), plus a brand new product (customer match) where companies can upload their email marketing list (with the biggest online advertising company on the planet) to then serve yet more ads to your most trusted customers. This product of course overlooks the fact that if you as a company own an email address and have properly profiled your newsletter subscribers, and listen to what they want, then the last thing they (your customers) want you to do is put more of your crap in their faces. Instead they are quite happy to receive your newsletter which they signed up for in the first place. But don’t take my word for it, trust your instinct too or hop over to Google church.

Facebook and other tech companies are also struggling to find a footing in Europe after being told that it’s not quite okay (English understatement) to ship EU citizen data outside of the EU and to then grant access to US authorities to take a look. That’s doubly painful because I believe that it was precisely the data flow from the EU that allowed the US evesdrop on it’s citizens once upon a time. While in the pet world they say “a dog is for life not just for Christmas” in Facebook’s own closed network email addresses are so yesterday, who needs an email address when a FB customer ID is for life.

Over in the UK a recent fining of Pharmacy2U by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), regarding the sale of 20,000 customers details returned a fine of £130,000 (with a discount of 20% for a quick payment) pretty much brings all this together and where I want to take this post.

The ICO office that looks after the interests of UK citizens for their privacy determined that it would be appropriate to place a value of £6.50 (£5.20 if paid quickly) for each information record per customer. That figure pretty much sums up just how little is understood about the commercial value that behaviourally gathered information can have for companies (in this broken digital marketplace). It’s only when reading rare posts (or listening to even rarer podcasts) about the games you and I download on our phone that you start to understand just how much is happening behind the scenes, and then being piped up the network to some all-knowing sentient network that simply attempts to fob off this data as valuable to someone that is prepared to pay for it (go and see how effective that data is and what happens when you use an Adwords ‘affinity list’ developed by Google from tracking people across its network of products from YouTube to Gmail. Watch your AdWords conversion rates fall off the earth, and your budgets exhausted as your attempts at Keynesian economics fail).

The thing is this, people don’t mind watching adverts; look at TV, and actually in some cases they can be really fun to watch. Think of SuperBowl ads as a case in point. The problem is that online, unlike TV, it’s not just face value experience; instead your exposure to an ad turns into a data-set which is then flogged to the highest bidder under the auspices that this person is bang-on target.

The reality of online surfing is that most of the time we human beings are completely irrational in how or what we look for in a day online, and in some cases we just have kids – I have often wondered how the commercial value of my profile has been infected by all the programmes my two watch on YouTube or on download via GooglePlay and how somewhere in the world, my profile is being aggregated into a list and resold as “highly targeted”. I’d like to tell the advertiser that purchased it that it isn’t!

It’s been said often in online advertising that we are in a race to the bottom, and that it can only get worse. On worse, I think we’re pretty much there already. Online experiences are becoming so utterly infected with advertising that, as history shows, at a certain point human’s just sit up and say enough is enough. Hello ad-blockers.

What Next

I don’t know how to get to the next point in advertising in a step by step approach, but I do know that it considers people’s personal information to be precious and to be valuable and for there to be a partnership in terms of what you give up. Whether you give a company your information and they then cut you a share of what they make off your profile, or they give you some other form of kickback, then that could be a reality, but as the market is showing people place no value on current advertising practice.

On the other side of the fence, advertisers can’t pretend that their product is right for absolutely everyone; the advertising networks need to somehow ensure that there is compatibility between the product and the target segment that is being marketed too, otherwise we’re back to square one!

Appendix 1 [ how many trackers the Guardian is using]
Appendix 2 [how many trackers the Daily Telegraph is using]
Appendix 3 [Signs of desperation?: translation: grow your business with Adwords Italia, start with a free €75 coupon]


Author Information
Glyn S. H. has been online marketing since 1999 and has developed campaigns for leading luxury brands that have included Nestlè and Interflora . He works primarily in for the Travel and Tourism sector, helping hotels beat-down OTA paychecks. He has a web-marketing company, a Masters in Professional Communication, speaks fluent Italian, and is married with two kids. He also has a good sense of humour – essential for survival in web-marketing. He is not employed by Google. To contact via email: glyn@ (this domain).



This post is a bit work in progress because you never really know for sure if what you are doing in Google Analytics is right because well….it’s Google Analytics!!

Hotels are at the forefront of a tracking nightmare that Google Analytics actually makes a good job of fixing – tracking across more than one domain. Many hotels prefer to pass the processing of bookings to a third-party that in turn do this and provide additional features (for example remarketing, meta-search programmes) and service which they take a commission for. It also removes hotels from the nasty and complicated equation of security. However a problem in this setup is that essentially a visitor arrives at one domain ( and then when they book they get sent to ( All hotels have to do is ensure that

  •  e-commerce tracking is enabled from within their Google analytics account
  • the Google analytics code is the same across the two website domains
  • the booking engine provider has done all the technical stuff so that when a person arrives at the page where the order has been confirmed, that a piece of Javascript is fired and all the relevant information is passed back to Google Analytics via the tracking code. They also need to make sure that the channel attribution is not being lost along the way.

But what happens when you want to look at just the traffic that’s happening on your booking engine? Or you want to isolate traffic from a social network into which you’ve also loaded your Google tracking code? That’s what I’m going to write about here.

Step 1:

Go to the Admin section of Google Analytics and select your mail account and the property which is using your Google tracking code. For smaller hotels it is likely that there will just be 1 property (which is your main hotel website). You should then create a new VIEW, which you might call “booking engine”. 

Step 2:

Google Analytics will not show the full domain in it’s reports even when it is run across lots of domains which is a Google thing, so you need to tell it to do things differently.

In the View column (with the view you are creating) click on Filters and then add a new filter and call it “Show Full Domain”. Then select the Advanced Filter and enter the details as shown below:



All of that is going to tell Google Anlytics to yank out the full domain path when showing this view. That means that it will pull out all the URLS and show them fully in the Google Analytics report.

So now we have setup the filter we need go back up the Google Analytics hierarchy to the Property. Underneath account (still in Admin section) you can see “All filters”. Here you want to go and create a new filter. Give the filter a name such as “Booking Engine Traffic” and then select “Custom” and select to include the Filter Field “Hostname” and the “Filter Pattern” should match the root of the domain you are tracking ( Leave all the other options unchecked if this is appropriate and then you will see a box below where you will see a list of available views. You should see your view “Booking Engine” and you need to click “ADD>>” to move it across to the selected views box. Then press Save.

Now from this day moving forward (views are not able to be applied retroactively) you will have your main Google Analytics view, but also the booking engine traffic isolated and able to analyze on it’s own.


Google Analytics showing both domain with trailing slash and without trailing slash (how to fix it)

Create a new filter (as shown below and apply this to the view you want in Google Analytics).


Here’s the regex for copy and paste: ^/(.*?)/+$     and then    /$A1

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Author Information
Glyn S. H. has been online marketing since 1999 and has developed campaigns for leading luxury brands that have included Nestlè and Interflora . He works primarily in for the Travel and Tourism sector, helping hotels beat-down OTA paychecks. He has a web-marketing company, a Masters in Professional Communication, speaks fluent Italian, and is married with two kids. He also has a good sense of humour – essential for survival in web-marketing. He is not employed by Google. To contact via email: glyn@ (this domain).



A year in review: 2014 in the travel and tourism marketing sector

January 1, 2015

2014 has been a big year for travel and tourism online, but it will pale in significance compared to what’s on the cards for 2015. As we recover from a few days with family and friends and big celebrations, it seems only appropriate to log a few of the developments that have made this industry […]

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Channel Attribution: are your conversions happening on the tracks or out in the desert?

June 18, 2014

In this post I will explain how to test cross-domain tracking to ensure that revenues are being correctly attributed in Google Analytics.

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Remarketing: How to be less annoying and a clever spender!

April 11, 2014

How to setup remarketing campaigns so they are running more efficiently.

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The end of backlinks, what now?

February 6, 2014

It used to be that the more external references or citations (links) your website had, the more popular it would be seen by the search engines, and rewarded by way of a high position in the results pages.

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Guest Blogging dead? Matt Cutts calls it…

January 23, 2014

Guest blogging is dead? Matt Cuttss has told the SEO community that they are coming after people that Guest Blog for links. How should you be approaching Guest Blogging?

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Predications for search and social in 2014

January 3, 2014

What a complicated year 2013 was for web-marketing people. 2012 saw pain delivered in the form of Penguin, exact match domain penalties and lots of little tweaks leaving many ‘web professionals’ wondering what just happened to their job. 2013 was the year of the slow dagger in organic search positioning by way of results pages overhauls and simply not telling webmasters how their website was being found. The old guard will know that in 2014 link-building is not dead, but that it’s impossible to rank in an area of the results page that will deliver any traffic without paying. It’s denial if you say to say to a client that they are ranking in position #2 and it’s great when in fact that traffic is below the fold and getting zero clicks!

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Partial match penalty recovery – the promised land!!

October 25, 2013

With one client I have been following their re-inclusion in the Google search index after they received a partial match manual penalty. I feel that this is one of the vaguest and most difficult penalties to try and recover from because there is so little clue provided as to where the problem might lie. It […]

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The 100% method to recover from any Google penalty (penguin, panda, and all to come)

October 2, 2013

It was after reading yet another post on how to theoretically recover from a Google Penguin penalty that I finally decided to do something about responding both to this and all the other commentary on the subject. It may help to read the straw that broke the camel’s back first, or if you are familiar […]

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