Web Analytics and Ad Serving – Proto-Analytics for 2007


Shane Atchison wrote in ClickZ today about Ominture and WebSideStory and what the future holds in 2007 for these two vendors.  I had a conversation with an agency person who was heavily into analytics from the UK yesterday with whom I discussed the integration opportunities of ad serving and web site analytics.  Shane’s predictions for 2007 promote great alignment for what we are working on now at TruEffect and introduced great opportunities for the advertiser looking to expand their understanding of site metrics to include acquisition marketing data. 


 


How someone arrives at a site and through what channels can be as important as what they do once they are there.  Decisions about what products to present, what messages to convey and what navigation pathways to promote, can be heavily influenced if you have insight into what pathway patterns produced the inbound traffic. 


 


But go one step further.  Acquisition marketing data is not just about impressions and clicks, uniques and view-throughs.  Acquisition marketing data is about sequential views of marketing messages that ultimately result in a visit.  What banners or ads were seen on what sites sequentially – including the ones that did not produce a response (click-thru). 


 


If you can have insight into the complete messaging process that eventually produces a lead or visit, then you know what not to say to someone when they arrive at your site as well as what to say to them – what product promotions will have higher response rates and what promotions will have weaker response rates based on the performance of the ad-site combinations.  The content of the sites you advertise on is as relevant as the ads you run.  This insight can be translated in real-time for you so you can effectively make decisions when people come to your site.


 


How?


 


Integrating ad serving and web site analytics is the first major step.  We’ve covered this before on this blog so those of you who follow it will be familiar with what I am talking about.  But let’s consider Omniture and WebSideStory.  WebSideStory for example is capable of using a first party cookie when conducting site analytics.  That means that when they pixel your site and then deploy cookies on browsers to track patterned behavior they are using your domain-based cookie.  A Disney.com cookie for example rather than a WebSideStory.com cookie. 


 


The benefits of this go into different areas including integration with CRM.  For example, the CRM system will be able to read the cookie written by the site analytics system in real-time and respond with knowledge known about a customer.  The content management system will also be able to read and respond to the cookie written by the site analytics system too and react with customer-targeted content.  None of this is possible if the cookie is a third party cookie.  It can not happen in real-time.  A cookie-synchronization step would be required.


 


But let’s look at ad serving.  Of course I love this part.  TruEffect created first party ad serving.  Named it DirectServe and stuck that little ™ on there to let everyone know it secured all kinds of patents.  With first party ad serving, TruEffect can serve advertising out of the first party domain – the advertiser’s domain – and read and write the advertiser’s cookie too.  The Dinsey.com cookie for example.  That means that the information being associated with the activity that is being conducted outside of the advertiser’s domain can be accessed and interpreted by the advertiser when the individual arrives at the site.  We’re talking seamless integration of ad serving and site analytics.


 


In the past I have always promoted DirectServe as a customer re-targeting tool.  That is a huge front-end benefit of what it does.  It’s the next generation of behavioral targeting and introduces a capability of recognizing and distinguishing a customer through an online advertising campaign in real-time.  A customer can be re-targeted with an ad rather than be re-prospected and they can be up-sold or driven back to conduct some form of desired transaction or action.  With DirectServe, advertisers can dissect the advertising audience composition and message to each segment (known and unknown individuals) differently in real-time, thus driving up conversions exponentially.  It works incredibly well across many different types of advertisers, both direct response and brand-based driven.


 


But today I am talking about the back-side of DirectServe.  The data asset of the named value pairs that can be created by first party ad serving.  My conversation yesterday introduced the question of privacy.  What happens when you write a cookie to a browser that is someone that is not an existing customer of, say Disney.com.  A prospect.  This cookie may have all the acquisition marketing data included in it – every banner seen and every site those banners were seen on sequentially.  When the individual lands on Disney.com, WebSideStory would be capable of internalizing that data and continuing to track that anonymous – key characteristic here people – individual on an ongoing basis.  With some tweaking of their reports, WebSideStory will be able to report on all of the acquisition marketing history collectively as well as the site analytical history that has taken place.  So no violation of privacy.


 


Of course additional benefits of the DirectServe data asset also exist.  For example, collectively the advertiser can also aggregate the acquisition marketing data from all of the individuals who land on their site and create a new classification of customer or registrant profile.  This has to be kept anonymous and cannot be associated with known customer records (that would be a PII violation) but the benefit is incredible!  Advertisers can gain insight into trends on how customers respond to message-site combinations and predict behaviors for future media buy decisions.  Couple that with the web site analytics data, and you can create a holistic prediction model of customer acquisition from advertising through site-based product promotion to the point-of-sale that will be based on proven data.  This is an analysts dream!


 


Okay okay.  You have to sophisticated enough to do all of this.  And I have customers who are on this level.  But I would say that is the 80/20 rule.  Maybe even 90/10 rule.  With the minority being the one’s who will go all the way with this.  Most of our clients are staying with the re-targeting strategy.  Which is very significant alone.  Others are investigating and working to integrate DirectServe and site analytics for reporting.  And then there are those who will “go-all-the-way” (Superbowl enthusiasts can read that dramatically).  Where will you be in 2007?

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