For years, companies have been trying to understand the effectiveness of their offline advertising and which campaigns generate web site traffic. I recently saw a good example of an attempt to track offline advertising efforts.

I was listening to a local AM talk radio station when I heard an ad for a "I got rich, you can too" offer. While I wasn't terribly interested in getting rich using the ad's method, I did find it interesting that the ad asked the listener to go to a web site to sign up for a free book. The web site was 4freekit.com.

I heard the same ad a few days later on XM satellite radio, but I noticed that the web site address had changed to 3freekit.com. I typed these in and you can see what I got:

I then realized that the advertiser used a different web site address to track performance of ads on different radio stations. He assigned 2freekit.com to one station, 3freekit.com to another, and so on. By doing this, he can measure web site traffic and begin to understand effectiveness and profitability for each channel.

You can do the same thing, but you don't need to use different domain names. If you advertise in the offline media, start a spreadsheet in Excel and list the media outlet and a memorable, unique web site address for each. For instance, you might use http://www.yoursite.com/newspaper for the local newspaper and http://www.yoursite.com/radio for the local radio station. By putting landing pages at these locations on your web site, you can use your web analytics software to see how much traffic each page gets. If your web analytics software is powerful enough, you can even measure conversion rates and revenue/leads generated from each page.

Use this tactic to understand the effectiveness and profitability of your offline media spend.