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How to Pick an Ad Server – Part VI: Customer Support & Implementation

Customer Support is something that I have written about before.  MatchLogic and DoubleClick were the first two ad server way back when.  DC had a self-driven model with DART and Match had an enterprise client service model.  The difference was that an agency managed their own campaigns with DC and Match managed the campaign’s for its clients.  TruEffect is the evolutionary successor of Match and with that has maintained a version of that Client Services model.  TruAdvertiser is the ad server product, and it is definitely self-driven, but the customer support model is a dedicated Account Manager as opposed to a customer support desk.  When you become a customer with TruEffect you are assigned an individual who handles training, support, technical coordination with engineers, etc.  This is your primary contact for everything.  And there are not incremental costs for this personal relationship. 

The other ad servers use a customer support desk model.  Sure you may have an Account Manager for managing the financial aspect of your account.  You may hear from this individual when its time to renegotiate your contract, but you won’t be able to reach this person when you need help getting a campaign live at 4:30p and you have 30 more sites to add.  You also won’t be able to speak to the same person each time you call or be able to develop a personal relationship with someone.  Spend some time investigating the customer support process when you research the ad servers.  When you check references, get references – and I have said this before – of people who have recently switched to the ad server from another provider so you can talk about their experience with more than one ad server.  Customer support can be almost as important as user experience.  When you really need them, will they be there for you in a manner that you prefer?

Implementation is the last category of evaluation.  It is very important while shopping that you ask for an example of the implementation process.  You are looking for a very thorough and organized process.  There should be a planned Implementation Meeting following the closing of your contract.  This should be a hand-off meeting between sales and Account Management or whomever will be overseeing training and setup.  And there had better be a specific point person for you to be dealing with at least until you are up an on your own two feet.  You should ask for some documentation that will demonstrate for you how they organize the process of getting you trained, getting your accounts setup, getting your client sites tagged, establishing your relationship with customer support and any engineering requirements.  There should be a written roadmap for you so that all of your expectations are on paper with a timeline and assigned stakeholder ownership.  It should be clear to you when things will be done, who will do what when and how to reach those people.  The last thing you want to have happen is to go through a detailed selection process and then feel like you don’t know what is happening after you make your selection and sign a contract.  The ad server you ultimately chose should have demonstrated to you that they will project-manage your implementation even better than the sales person managed the sales process.  And to be sure of this, ask for a demonstration of how they do this during the sales process.

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