With SteelHouse Slingshot, Advertisers Can Customize Their Websites For Visitors Who Saw Their Ads

With a new feature called Slingshot, marketing tech startup SteelHouse wants advertisers to look beyond the click.

President and CEO Mark Douglas told me that he’s trying to tackle the problem of “viewthroughs” — people who see an ad and, even though they don’t click on it, are prompted to visit the advertiser’s website.

By the traditional digital ad measurement of clickthrough rates, those visitors aren’t being counted when determining an ad’s effectiveness. Douglas said that even worse from an advertiser’s perspective is the fact that they aren’t seeing the custom landing pages that are usually created for people who arrive via an ad.

“Not everyone clicks,” Douglas said. “In fact, hardly anyone in the ad tech industry clicks.”

To solve that problem, SteelHouse is combining retargeting technology with on-site offers. So when someone sees an ad, SteelHouse uses a tracking pixel to identify them. Then, if they visit the advertiser’s website within the next hour, the company can not only know that the visit happened, but also reinforce the ad by presenting the visitor with a custom message or offer.

This may sound relatively straightforward, but Douglas argued that it’s hard to pull off — unless, like SteelHouse, your technology is integrated with both ads and websites.

“The reason this has been ignored is because the ad industry generally doesn’t know what’s happening on their advertiser’s website,” he said. “The site doesn’t know who was presented the ad, and the ad doesn’t know who went to the site.”

This tracking also works on mobile, Douglas said. It doesn’t yet work between devices, but he hinted that’s something SteelHouse will be tackling later this year.

Douglas also noted that even though Slingshot is currently limited to visitors who show up within an hour of seeing an ad, the tracking data is probably relevant for up to 72 hours. He’s sticking to such a short time window for now, so that the results are very clear — if someone comes to your website one day after seeing an ad, you might argue that the ad wasn’t responsible. But if it’s only 30 minutes later, the causality is pretty inarguable.

The startup already ran a Slingshot campaign with entertainment hardware company Creative Labs, resulting in an 87 percent improvement in conversion, a 332 percent lift in overall revenue per visitor, and a 27 percent increase in average order value.