Media Ad Sales: Print Ads ARE Trackable!

Print ads ARE trackable! Sales coach Ryan Dohrn gives helpful tips on how to maximize results.

Are you tired of hearing that print ads or offline marketing is not trackable? Me too. In nearly all of my ad sales training workshops I hear sales reps say that is one of the most common objections from advertisers.

So, here is the answer.

Please feel free to create a one sheet from this information to use with your advertising clients.  (Please note that there are some VERY detailed instructions at the end of this blog post too.)

Here are my 8 helpful tips to maximize your print ad buy:

1. Delegate to the right person. The person that answers the phone at your office is NOT the best person to track your print ad response. “64% of incoming calls, tracked over a four month print ad campaign, resulted in no question being asked about the advertising source.“ – BSM, research study, 2014

2. Be sure to run a unique web site address in each different print ad that you run. These are called “Vanity URL’s.” For example, is your main web site. Go to and register another dot come name like, to run in print ad #1 and to run in print ad#2.   After you register your Vanity URL, you will need to follow some very specific instructions. Those are located at the end of this blog. Think through your name. DO NOT use a name like, . This will fail almost every time! DO NOT do this.

3. Be sure to run a unique tracking phone number in each ad. Call tracking numbers have been around for years. Sure phone volume is way down these days, but tracking your calls from print ads is super easy. Companies like can offer you this service for as low as $30 per month. Or a cheaper route is to buy a TracPhone® 

4. Put your cell number in the ad. If you truly want to know who is calling from your print ad, put your cell number in the ad. Are you afraid you will get calls?

5. Track your Google® analytics. Everything a user does is tracked in your Google® Analytics. Most business owners just do not fully understand how to read their Google® Analytics. Other than Google®, traditional media, like print for example, is the second best way to drive traffic to your web site. Be sure to track when your print campaign started and ended in GA. You will almost always see a lift in website traffic. Be sure to filter out all the other things you are doing online at the same time to see the best result.

6. Run unique content in each ad. Ad agencies are notorious for running the exact same ad in multiple magazines. STOP! Do not do this. Sure, a consistent, overall branding message is good, but try featuring different content in each print ad to better gauge results. It can be as simple as changing the color of the product you feature or the image in the ad. Do something to give you a chance to see the results.

7. Spend dedicated time checking your marketing results. It is imperative. Ask your media sales rep for help. It’s your money… track it.

8. QR codes never hurt. While not the rage as they were intended, why not? Feature a unique offer to readers willing to scan the QR code that is pointed to a unique landing page and offer on your web site. Free QR code:

Use my 8 tips to so you can help your advertising clients really understand what their print ads are doing for them!

P.S. As promised, here are the VERY specific instructions on how to set-up your Vanity URL so that Google Analytics can read it!

  1. Buy Your Vanity URL: I recommend buying your vanity URL from as they offer quality phone support.
  2. Create A Trackable URL by visiting Google’s URL Builder tool: Enter your real website URL (not your vanity URL) where it says “Website URL.”Under “Source,” add where people are coming from (ex. mailer) Under “Medium,” add the type of marketing it is (ex. print) Under “Name,” add something specific (ex. “50percentoff” – do not add spaces between words.) Click “Submit” Copy that URL to your clipboard.
  3. Forward or Redirect Trackable URL to Real URL: Log into or the site where you bought the vanity URL, open the account settings for that URL, and in the “redirect” or “forward to” option, paste in the URL you generated with Google’s URL Builder. Do not make this a site alias as an A record or C name.
  4. Test It! And, learn to set up a report in Google Analytics.


More about Ryan: Ryan Dohrn is an award winning sales coach and sales trainer. He is also an international motivational speaker and the author of the best selling sales book, Selling Backwards. Ryan is the President and founder of Brain Swell Media, a boutique 360 ad sales training and coaching firm with a detailed focus on sales training and coaching for media and technology companies.


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