StumbleUpon Paid Discovery Fails

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If you’re a new blogger trying to figure out how to get more traffic to your site, then you’re not alone. Everyone wants new traffic. Yet it’s not enough to get traffic, you want to get the right traffic. Qualified readers. Right?

On Word+Pictures=Web, I am usually trying to attract readers interested in technology, marketing, photography, new media, gadgets, comic books, and fun stuff like that. Digging into my stats, I noticed that I was getting some good traffic from StumbleUpon.com.

Note: For blog analytics, I use a combination of Site Stats from WordPress and Google Analytics. Both packages are free.

StumbleUpon Paid Discovery became available in March, 2011, so I guess I am an early adopter here. It required a new sign up and some basic information, all of which was quick and easy. Paid Discovery offers three pricing teirs, which includes Light, Standard and Premium.

  • Light – 5 cents per visitor
  • Standard – 10 cents per visitor
  • Premium – 25 cents per visitor

At this point, I selected Light because I was just getting started and there really wasn’t much information out there. There is a lot more information about how to run search engine marketing (SEM) campaigns on Google AdWords and Yahoo Search Marketing, but not much on Paid Discovery.

The Light option didn’t offer much flexibility in terms of customization or reporting. Reporting is only offered to Standard and Premium campaigns. From a paid customer’s perspective, this kind of sucks. StumbleUpon is a freemium service and I am coming in as a paid customer. Maybe I am not spending a lot of money on my own personal campaign, but I might spend more on client campaigns. By throwing up another roadblock, you’ve just prevented me from even seeing the premium features. As a person who likes data, I find this frustrating.

The campaign started on March 20 with a budget of $8 per day. As advertised, StumbleUpon Paid Discovery drove 160 clicks. Same for March 21. I figured I’d start small. If it was working, I could always add more out of pocket spend. Set up was easy. Nobody can really get it wrong.

Checking my stats, I was disappointed to discover that Paid Discovery was driving a lot of bounced traffic. I mean, a LOT of bounces.

According to Google Analytics, I was getting a 97.76% bounce rate. Traffic was staying 00.01 seconds or less on the site.

That’s a pretty stark contrast from the regular traffic I was getting from StumbleUpon. The actual traffic was just a trickle, but it had a 42.86% bounce rate and average time on site of 00.15. When I opted for Paid Discovery, I wanted more traffic like that.

As I mentioned, I’ve run SEM campaigns on AdWords, so I figured I could go in and make some adjustments. Nope. The Light version offers no way for you to modify your campaign settings, except for the budget spend. So, I dialed the budget down every day, just hoping that maybe less traffic would mean more qualified leads. Sadly, no.

In the end, it was just a complete fail for me. I love StumbleUpon, I really do. So I hoped that by spending some ad dollars, I could give something back and drive more of their qualified traffic to my site. Alas, I was mistaken. StumbleUpon Paid Discovery failed for me.

Will I try again? Sure, if they make some adjustments to their algorithms and give me more flexibility in the dashboard, I would try again. StumbleUpon is a terrific discovery tool for me personally and professionally. I imagine that they’ll be looking for ways to improve their Paid Discovery offerings so that it’s a little more on par with SEM solutions. I’d even be interested in helping them test new features, if it meant an improved final product offering.

Until then, I will stick with AdWords for paid traffic and StumbleUpon to discover new websites.

Oh, and if you were wondering, yes, I Stumbled this post.