Congressional Spyware Legislation

Yesterday, the IAB presented congress with an appeal to reconsider “spyware” legislation that would potentially hinder e-commerce and information exchange online.  Dave Morgan, who is the founder and chairman of TACODA and chairman of the IAB Public Policy Council was quoted by Online Media Daily as telling congress that “…the proposed “Spyware” legislation could curtail consumer choice and hinder a key economic engine to Web growth.” 

Obviously, as the founder of a behavioral targeting company whose entire foundation technical foundation is based on cookies, Dave is proactively concerned about this potential legislation.  And he should be.  This is a classic example of educating the audience, in this case congress.  In the past I have advocated against wasting too much time educating the masses, however, in this case I believe it to be a worthy fight.  Obviously we can’t have congress confusing the relevant advertising cookie with malicious spyware. 

So Dave and the IAB are charging forward in effort to make that clarification in front of this new congress starting with the hiring of its first lobbyist, Mike Zaneis.  Zaneis, is the former director of congressional and public affairs for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a trade group representing 3 million businesses.  He fought to prevent lawmakers from stepping in to legislate in preference for getting industry groups to come together and fix data protection issues pertaining to credit card fraud.  He has the moxy and experience to help generate the support in congress, or at least educate key influencers in congress about the difference between beneficial technologies and malicious ones.

Something that I wonder about is where are the first party cookie beneficiaries in all of this?  Where are the site analytic companies and the retailers?  If the cookie gets legislated, they will not be protected from the restrictions that come with it.  A cookie will likely be generally classified as some sort of technology that is involuntarily placed on a user’s computer without their knowledge.  That means no more site-side analytics even with first party cookies (WebSideStory and now WebTrends).  That also means retailer cookies, bank cookies, stick portfolio cookies.  Anyone other than ad servers and networks who use their own domain to track, measure and target will likewise be impacted.

So why hasn’t the IAB engaged these groups as well.  A coalition of the retail industry would have a HUGE impact.  The involvement of financial institutions, major magnitude.  Bring in the horsepower of Yahoo!, MSN and AOL and their cookie-based tracking and you have mega-lobbyists at the door of congress.  The IAB doesn’t need to do this alone.  And Gavin O’Malley of MediaPost is right, this is a great time to be educating a new receptive congress.

_uacct = “UA-980395-1”;

Gaining Ground with Behavioral Targeting: Mediaplex tells (Almost) All

So I have received a lot of email and even a couple of phone calls regarding yesterday’s article by Mediaplex’s Sean Quick in iMediaConnection.  How could I let an article on Gaining Ground with Behavioral Targeting go by without so much as a comment, when so much of my blog addresses this topic with such conviction?  Well, yesterday was my birthday so I was out having a much needed break!  But I’ll have at it now!


Okay, first of all I have to start off by saying that Sean did a good job of breaking up BT into two distinct categories – passive and active.  He used these descriptions to help us understand the difference between the classic event-based targeting capabilities of a TACODA and the re-targeting capabilities that I have been evangelizing on this blog.  I was so pleased to see Sean use the term customer re-targeting as well, since it was not an industry term when I first started this blog and my Urchin reports show Mediaplex on my blog everyday.  I take Sean’s usage of the term as a compliment J.


Recently I posted When to Blog and When to Publish, commenting on what I believe to be the hairline-thick line between what is informational and what is self-promotional publishing online.  I issued a request for feedback as to whether I should be blogging or publishing and if there are topics on my blog suitable for publishing, should you believe I should be publishing.  I was contacted by Brad Berens at iMediaConnection who suggested that I could follow the thought leadership track when writing for iMediaConnaction (with their help) and that my self-promotion and subjective style could be reserved for the blog.  Works for me!  Anyway, stay tuned as you may see some writing show up out there as well…


Anyway, back to Sean’s article.  While Sean does specifically highlight ValueClick’s Mediaplex as the provider of re-targeting, he also mentioned DoubleClick and  So I don’t fault him for direct self-promotion.  But what I do believe Sean fails to do is accurately depicting customer re-targeting as it has come to be defined. 


If anything I believe that what Sean has done is introduced a third form of behavioral targeting: (1) passive, (2) active event-based and (3) active segment-based.


Passive BT goes back to the event-based targeting that I have already discussed in many postings.  Sean describes it as follows:


Passive BT — also sometimes called Targeted Segments and other names — is generally done either through applications that reside on a user’s computer, such as downloaded software, or through tracking tags that reside on publishers’ websites.  In either case, these technologies anonymously record consumer web browsing activity.  The consumer is unaware that such tracking is occurring, as it doesn’t affect their surfing activity in any noticeable way.


The tracking information is collected and analyzed, and the cornerstone of this approach is the subsequent attempt to make increasingly educated guesses about a consumer’s interests based on the data in order to deliver timely and relevant marketing communications.


Examples of providers of this approach include Tacoda, Revenue Science and Claria.


The Active BT that Sean describes is “also called User Retargeting [and] consists of anonymously registering consumers’ proactive, direct interaction with a company’s marketing efforts. For example, display or email advertisements or material on the client’s website and then implementing follow-up marketing programs that address that explicitly expressed interest in an attempt to deepen the relationship and lead to conversion.”


So this is still event-based.  A better description is Event-Based Active BT.  The information leveraged for re-targeting is based on other marketing experiences.  Sean does not describe the application of this BT specifically in terms of online advertising, nor does he describe it in terms of preventing the re-prospecting of customers through online advertising.  In fact, what he is doing is explaining that Event-Based Active BT can coordinate disparate forms of online marketing to collectively create a concrete BT model.  Moreover, and what is entirely left out of this article is the PROCESS.


One thing that I am so careful to do in all of my postings – and what I believe will be a focus of articles that I would write for IMC – is to illuminate the procedural differences between various kinds of technologies so that people can come to distinguish them.  It is important to understand the impact of a first party design and a third party design for example.  The benefits and differences of these kinds of technologies transcend the advertising experience for both the advertiser and user – in fact for the publisher too. 


TruEffect holds the patent-pending rights to first party ad serving.  So if another ad server were to implement a first party design, they would violate that patent and would be putting their clients in a nefarious situation that would result in problems down the road.  Aside from that, other ad servers are not doing it that way anyway right now.  They have their own design using a third party cookie and a synchronization process.  They still have their ‘control the data and you own the client’ model.


Listen, Sean is not going to talk to me about it, obviously.  But maybe he will talk to you and then you can come back and talk to all of us on the blog.  OR, maybe Sean would like to come on here and have a discussion with all of us.  It would be great to bring the truth out.


If Mediaplex is using a third party cookie to conduct user re-targeting, it is historically synchronizing.  Latency comes into play and there are limitations to the benefits that only a real-time capability can bring to the table.  Only a first party cookie foundation is capable of doing it in real-time. 


If Mediaplex is having clients share record information so that Mediaplex can assign cookie values to people when they transact or otherwise experience a marketing event, it is still a third party cookie, foreign to the advertiser and so the limitations include:


  1. The ad serving data is mediaplex’s data, accessible only by mediaplex;
  2. The cookie information is not accessible by the advertiser;
  3. The ad serving information is not readily integratable with other technologies such as site-side analytics which may be another third party cookie (omniture) or could be a first party cookie (WebSideStory or Webtrends); and
  4. Mediaplex can not adjust targeting strategies in real-time, targets must be determined in advanced.

As we have covered in many entries on this blog.  First party ad serving, using a first party cookie, allows all of the four aforementioned limitations to be mitigated.  Most of all, targeting can happen in real-time.  An advertiser can change a cookie value, login to the ad server and change the targeting reaction to the cookie; and the change is instantaneous. 


With a third-party implementation, the advertiser has have to share the altered customer information with the ad server (Mediaplex, DoubleClick) and then the ad server has to start writing new cookies, which have to propagate, and then the ad targeting can begin.  Can you say latency?


Two other limitation issues: (1) SOX and (2) third party cookie deletion.


When a third party is handling your data, and you have SOX compliance issues, you have a potential problem.  Using a third-party cookie and a third party ad server, deploying event-based Active BT, means your data about your customers is being shared with a third party who is subsequently developing additional information about your customers and gate-keeping your access to that data.  You need to make sure that you have controls written about the handling of that data because it is out of your control.  This is not an issue with first party ad serving because all of your ad serving data flows directly through to the advertiser and is not withheld by the ad server.


Secondly, third party cookies get deleted over 40% of the time – Jupiter Research.  So only 60% of the Event-Based Active BT will be effective whereas over 90% of first party cookies are persistent.  Do the math and you will realize that leveraging a first party cookie will bring a much higher yield in re-targeting activities.


So Sean’s article stimulates the interest and probably results in some genuine leads to Mediaplex, but I wonder how far down the path you will get with Mediaplex before you come to realize that you have not come to engage with customer re-targeting but more event-based BT?


The third form of BT that I characterized earlier is Active Customer Re-targeting.  The fundamental distinguishing difference is that the advertiser is creating customer segments and is cookieing their customers directly, as opposed to the ad server cooking the customer.  Advertisers may cookie their customers through eCRM, eCommerce cycles, email processes, site-side analytic platforms (i.e., WebSideStory), landing pages (i.e., CoreMetrics) all using their own first party cookie.  They can create customer segment profiles that associate a user with a customer type, just like they do offline with direct mail, cataloging and telemarketing and then deploy customer re-targeting with their online advertising.


So Sean, it would be very interesting to have a follow-up article with which we hear how Mediaplex, and if you’re so inclined to research your other examples – and DoubleClick – conduct the Event-Based Active User Re-targeting.  But that might not be on your agenda.  Hey Brad, maybe I’ll write that article for you!


Reactionary with Insight.

_uacct = “UA-980395-1”;

This I believe

So for several months now I have been closely watching the industry, reading articles, PR releases, product releases, financial releases and generally paying attention.  I have been taking bits and pieces of what I care about and have been making comments and providing what I believe has been an insightful perspective on how technology can be better leveraged to improve how we advertise online.


I have looked at the ad servers, the networks, the lead generation tools.  I have examined the search engines, the publisher tools and the creative formats and provided you with feedback on what other reliable people have had to say.


And I have discussed ad agencies, their workflow, the media buying process and the tools that people use to do their jobs, however inefficiently I may believe that to be.


Here is my position.


The agencies have engaged the interactive medium completely.  Estimates for 2007 are that between 12 ½ and 20% of advertising budgets will go towards new media.  This is no longer the edgy side-project.  Engagement with technology is here.  But it is about refinement. 


Search is essential but everyone is coming to recognize that there is something wrong with the model.  It is extremely time-intensive and expensive to manage.  Furthermore the ROI metrics seem to slip the longer you run campaigns.  As I have said in the past, a tipping point is coming. 


Networks have been doing their thing the same way with some minor tweaks for a while now and people are demanding more disclosure.  Tolerance for media showing up on inappropriate sites is very low, accountability is high and additional capabilities like behavioral targeting has become an expectation.


That brings me to behavioral targeting – a very common topic on this blog.  I have ripped this topic up and down.  My intent has been to redefine this concept as event-based targeting and to justify that there is little about behaviors actually associated with it at all.  Just because someone took a navigation path, or saw a page means little about their behavior, the predictability of their behavior or their preferences.  All we know is something that happened.  Historical targeting is a better description but I have used event-based targeting over the last couple of months.


I have never tried to minimize the value of BT, only put it into it rightful place as a solid prospecting and direct response advertising mechanism.  BT does not represent the best means to capturing known individuals, in fact, it does not have the capacity to associate with knowledge about people at all.  Only with events.  But I believe that BT should be part of a comprehensive campaign.


People have approached me both on and off this blog about my position towards BT and some of the networks, but I think its because they have been defensive and protective of their positions as representatives of these companies.  Others have engaged me – usually advertisers, agency representatives or others who see that the evolution of practice is inevitable and being on the adaptive edge of the curve is better than the laggards edge.


I have also spent a lot of time plugging a concept called first party ad serving.  Forgive me for the plugs.  Obviously as a member of TruEffect I have a lot of passion for what we do here.  But I also spend a lot of time looking for other technologies that can rival or at least coexist, companion or compliment what we are doing here.


The patent-pending DirectServe™ Technology that TruEffect has brought to the market represents the next generation of ad serving.  It leverages the knowledge that an advertiser holds about its customers, registrants or users to re-target through ad campaigns.  This is not a replacement for other technologies out there – I have said that before as well – but a great new way of doing it.  An addition to a comprehensive advertising strategy.


First party ad serving is about customer re-targeting.  BT is about event-based targeting, best applied when trying to capture unknown individuals.  One is for bringing in new business; one is about farming and growing existing business.  There is no point is re-prospecting existing customers while advertising online.  DirectServe™ takes care of that.  BT leverages previous events so that you can increase the likelihood of putting the right message in front of the right person at the right time based on historical events.  DirectServe™ puts the right message in front of the right person based on known customer segmentation models, knowledge already held about customers.  This a potential marriage.


Now BT is largely touted by networks, so there is a limitation as to how you can use it.  I talk about TACODA a lot – which I think Dave Morgan has not be thrilled about – but its because they have been the leader in the space.  I have also talked about and Blue Streak and Tribal and others as well.  But ad servers offer BT too.  DoubleClick’s Boomerang does it.  TruEffect does it.  And that extends beyond networks.


I also talk about integration.  Agencies are not on this trail so much as advertisers.  Well, some agencies are but they are the minority.  I have strong opinions about this because I feel that they pieces of the puzzle are all here now for us to put together a great picture of our online marketing so that we can make better informed decisions about our web site compositions, product placements, online advertising and budget allocations.  But nobody has fully engaged yet.  There are leaders that are putting the pieces together, but I am advocating the full-monty and that is what you read about on this blog.


Tying it all together will enable an advertiser to make the best possible decisions regarding allocation of online media spend.  It will promote the best utilization of technology, improve product placement on web sites, increase the value of existing customers, the initial value of new customers and enhance the likelihood of increasing the utilization of interactive media as a channel for marketing.


See my ten-step recipe for full-integration of all the technology pieces of an online advertising campaign.


First let me redefine that a third party cookie is a vendor’s cookie and a first party cookie is an advertiser’s cookie.  Here is the recipe.

_uacct = “UA-980395-1”;

Ten Step Recipe for a Fully-Integrated Online Marketing Initiative

In my next post, This I believe, I state my position on agencies, networks, ad servers, writers and pretty much all things online advertising related.  In the end I offer up a reciper for putting together all of the technologies into a holistic, comprehensive marketing initiative.  Here it is.

First let me redefine that a third party cookie is a vendor’s cookie and a first party cookie is an advertiser’s cookie.  Here is the recipe:


(1)            Starting with the tagging of a web site so that cookies can be set (first party cookies of course) when someone is on the site. 

(2)            Then add in Ad serving – first party ad serving (like the patent-pending DirectServe™) to promote products or services on the web. 

(3)            Mix in the search advertising and be sure to use the ad server’s first party cookie and leverage a redirect so that the search term can be embedded into the cookie so that when the user lands on the advertiser’s web page that search term is associated with that user.

(4)            Deploy customer re-targeting advertising whereby you leverage customer segments from the eCRM database to recognize and distinguish customers through ad campaigns with specific banner advertisements, rich media and video.

(5)            Deploy BT for anyone that visits the web site directly and cookie that user with a first-party cookie so that the re-targeting mechanism can work when they encounter that individual online (on a network or web site).

(6)            Engage with a site-side analytics provider that will use a first party deployment – like WebSideStory – and take full advantage of tracking anonymous user behavior across your web site.  Track all navigation patterns, entrance and exist points, product position preferences, sales cycles, etc.

(7)            Leverage site-side analytics to write the first party cookie and segment the cookie value based on user preferences in association with CRM data.

(8)            Feed the customer preference cookie value to generate the customer segments and associate the customer segments with creative target groups that the ad server will serve in the re-target campaigns (back to #4)

(9)            Have the DirectServe™ write to the cookie during the ad serving process the details of the ad serving history to the cookie so that when a prospect of customer comes to the site, the site-side analytics software can internalize all of the external activity and use it for further analysis on how someone became a customer or how returning customers were reacquired.  First party ad serving will give site-side analytics outside perspective of web marketing.

(10)       Complete the circle by leveraging the holistic view by analyzing the reports on how you acquire customers through BT, Search and Banner advertising, how you re-acquire existing customers through DirectServe™ first party ad serving and how both types interact with your site using site-side analytics.  Determine which messaging strategies, campaign combinations of banners and placements, search engines and terms and which technologies are delivering the greatest source of new customer and returning customer yield and make future media buying decisions based on that analysis.

_uacct = “UA-980395-1”;

Post-Search Data and Banner Advertising

Phil Leggiere interviewed Right Media’s director of Product Management, Alex Hooshmand and published the interview in the January 31st 2007 edition of MediaPost’s Behavioral Insider. 


At the end of the interview, Phil asked about the new frontier of Behavioral Targeting, what is coming next.  Hooshmand’s response, “we now have several clients who are using post-search behavior to target banner or display ads.”  Let’s get into that.


So what are the options?


Obviously RightMedia has some offering within their exchange network although I have not been able to find anything more than that.  Plus as a hermetically sealed network you are limited to being a buyer or seller within that auction environment.  Works great for direct response, low-dollar advertisers and publishers with remnant inventory but not for the rest of the market.


One options is Post-search advertising.  AlmondNet delivers post-search paid-listings to users based on previous search behavior across its distributed ad network.  If a user searches on an item through conventional search, their search behavior is cookied and tracked.  When they are encountered in the future they are targeted with relevant paid listings.  This is a lot like behavioral targeting only with paid listings and with search instead of pixel-associated events.


MSN’s new AdCenter offers an advertiser the opportunity to target their search advertising by demographics, geography, day-part and several other parameters.  So they are using browser-based cookies to single-out users for targeting.  Crossing the chasm to then offer an advertiser the opportunity to subsequently advertise a banner ad to someone based on search response behavior would not be a hard leap to make.  But that is my supposition and is not something that has been publicly been brought to market.  But it will I am guessing.


Then of course there is my favorite, the creative approach that the early adopters are deploying.  Search advertising with First Party cookie ad serving. 


Advertisers that manage healthy search campaigns will usually employ the services of an ad server to track their campaigns – leveraging unique click-thru URLs and landing pages to track each keyword.  This approach enables the advertiser to measure the effectiveness of every keyword.  While the search engines may provide impression data on the keywords through their reports, and clicks, the ad servers can provide successful clicks and then post-click events (what happens after someone clicks on the keyword and enters the advertiser’s site) when the advertiser’s site is properly tagged with tracking pixels.


One of the benefits of using an ad server is to have the comparative reporting between a search engine’s reported clicks and actual clicks.  Up until recently, Google reportedly had a click-fraud rate of approx 12%.  Now it is 2% with the invention of something they refer to as “invalid clicks” making up the other 10%.  Invalid clicks are screened out clicks that you no longer have to pay for.  So they are making good on the evident occurrence of people clicking on multiple links before pages load, “stopped” browsers, spiders and bots, failed page loads and other behaviors that result in “fraud” click counts but unsuccessful events.  Whereas, the ad server counts the click as resulting in someone landing on the advertiser’s web page.


But back to the integration of search and banner advertising.  When using an ad server to manage search campaigns, a user receives a cookie when they click-thru to the advertiser’s web site.  I know I have gone though this before so my readers should have this down.  But the basics are as follows:


The cookie is placed on the browser so that they can be tracked through to the advertiser’s web page and the activity can be credited back to the keyword and search engine.  As this user continues to surf the web they can be recognized and targeted based on that cookie with banner ads. 


If it is a third-party cookie, it is event-based targeting.  TACODA, are network examples and Boomerang are ad server examples that can apply this technology and can target a user based on their search behavior.


If it is a first party ad serving implementation – DirectServe – then the cookie that is applied is the advertiser’s cookie.  The behavioral targeting features still apply insomuch that if all they do is visit the site, they can be targeted with future ads just like with the example described above for third party providers. 


But with first party implementations, the user can also be targeted based on advertiser knowledge generated from the site visit.  For example, if the user clicked on the search term and registered for information, purchased a product or applied for a loan then they are in the CRM system and are a known individual that can be included in a customer segment.  Customer segments can be targeted with DirectServe, first party ad serving. 


A user who clicks on a search term and visits the advertiser’s site; and who then completes some level of activity that results in their identification will get a first party cookie.  This individual can then be re-targeted with ads anywhere across the internet at anytime as a customer or registrant.  They can be up-sold, cross-sold or otherwise targeted as an anonymous member of a customer segment (brand preference, purchase frequency, buying habits, etc.).


Post-search behavior can be used to create the customer segments when the users arrive for the first time.  For example, the segment examples can further be dissected to include keyword groups so that when targeted, the advertisements appeal to keyword groups that initially generated the user’s response.  Once the user returns to the web page – just like when they first arrived at the site – a content management system can leverage the actual keyword to customize content delivery and properly display product information to maximize revenue or other desired response.


I’d love to hear from you on this.  This can be done a number of ways.  But the easiest that I have come across so far is to integrate the three – search, behavioral targeting and DirectServe/first party ad serving. 


As I have described in the past DirectServe has three phases of implementation: (1) re-targeting, (2) cookie-writing and data delivery for analytics and (3) integration – CRM, Content Management and Site-Side Analytics.  But for the purpose of this post and this example, I am really only focusing on re-targeting.  That is as far as you need to go and you will already be way ahead of the curve.


What else can you do?


If you integrate your search with your ad serving, leveraging post-search capabilities to drive your behavioral targeting (prospecting) and customer re-targeting (DirectServe), you will generate data that you can analyze about customers that will enable you to better understand not just what search terms generate leads but what search terms generate customers, customer segment groups, customer values, repeat custom actions and long-term metrics.  Grouping keywords together will help you determine long-term effectiveness of search campaigns.  Furthermore, by integrating post-search with banner advertising, you will be able to recognize how search and banner messages combine to effective solidify messages and have the same impact that can be measured with the same metrics described above.  You can go hog wild!  But most importantly you can measure and determine how to better allocate media spend.  If search works for you, you will know why and how.  You will come to recognize how to compliment it with banner advertising. 


Last thing.  When you use first party ad serving, the cookie that you tag a browser with helps you to measure advertising audience.  This means that when you advertise on Yahoo and you buy 1 M impressions, you will know exactly what % of that audience is comprised of existing customers and what % of that audience is comprised of people who have not been to your site before (or who have recently cleared out their cookie file). 


What about search?  The same holds true.  Any of your customers who carry your first party cookie will also be measurable.  If someone searches on a term and clicks through to your web site, and they are an existing customer already, they will be measured as an existing customer (their customer segment type will be measured) and you will know what % of the search audience you capture is already comprised of existing customers.  Interesting tidbit.  How much money do you spend with search recapturing recurring revenue?


Reactionary with Insight.

_uacct = “UA-980395-1”;

Car Buying Experience. Lost DirectServe Opportunity Where SmartBanners Could Hammer Home Offers to a Shopper Anywhere Online

So I have gone from being a promoter of online advertising technology to a target over the last week.  For the first time that I can recall in a long time, I succumbed to most of the applications in use meant to drive me towards specific destinations and specific actions and it all came up short.  But what I did find were great opportunities for improvement!


I have been shopping for a new car.  Dreadful experience that it is, I am one of those people who labors over it.  The problem is that I started off not knowing what kind of car to get.  My wife wants a Prius, only she’s not the one who has the drive it and after the last month of back-to-back blizzards in Denver I need something that can actually get me to work.  I am not an ignoramous, I am not looking for a gas-guzzling, high emissions-producing smog machine, but an AWD that can get through the crud and have some power to get up the mountains would be nice.  EPA in the 20s/30s.  So the crossover class seems to be my style.  Anyway, I went on the usual sites looking at cars – MSN, Edmunds,, etc.  I was having trouble finding something I liked when I saw an ad for a cool looking car and clicked on it.  I went to the manufacturer’s site and read about the offer that had lured me in and even filled out a form to have a dealer or two contact me. 


So there it is, right there!  I joined a CRM system.  The dealer contacted me and yet had no idea how I had become a lead.  What had been the process. Didn’t know what site I had come from or what offer I had seen.  Or perhaps they did know but didn’t want to lead off with a good deal.


Anyway many of us know the statistics.  People start looking at cars and all of a sudden their surfing habits go hog-wild online as they research the heck out of a vehicle and then they show up in a show room to buy.  Needless-to-say that was not the last time that I went online to look at cars.  In fact I am two weeks into the process and I am still online looking at cars and am still kind of looking at other cars to make sure this is the one I want.  Each time I type in that crossover on one of those sites, an ad for the lease or finance offer shows up on the page, sometime something else shows up but they usually railroad it.


What am I getting at here?  I have been contacted by more than one dealership.  I have tested driven the car at two locations.  I am in a database (presumably) at both locations and I am in a database at the manufacturer.  I surf online and research that car along with others and occasionally see ads for that car or other cars from that dealer.  Where is the behavioral targeting?!?!  Where is the customer re-targeting??  They should know who I am and know things about me!  I’ve been back to the manufacturers site several times, the dealer’s site even more often looking at the inventory.  Nobody knows it’s me!!


Here is the perfect opportunity for a dealership to recognize that the reality is I am not done shopping online.  They should be keen to the likelihood that I am also probably going to be talking to other car manufacturers (I have told them as much).  Since the manufacturer who first secured me as a lead in the first place through advertising still has my information they should have, and could, have cookied me.  They could be targeting me in the future each time they encounter me and be ‘warming’ me up for the dealer.  The dealer could be enhancing my record with the manufacturer so that my customer profile is getting expanded for targeting.


Back to DirectServe – first party ad serving.  The manufacturer could be recognizing me on MSN when they advertise and could be showing me ads for the car I am tagged on whenever it’s their turn to show an ad.  I don’t mean when I research the crossover, I mean at any point that they may advertise.  How about when I look at a different car?  I can be recognized, distinguished and messaged to accordingly.  They can hit me with that crossover on Edmunds even though I had been researching it on  Once they have me tagged, they can focus on that car wherever they encounter me. 


If I see relevant ads while I continue to do my research it hammers home my interest in the crossover I am looking at even if I am playing around with other types of cars.  The messaging capability is powerful.


Here is another technology to know about.  TruEffect also has TruBanners.  These Smart Banners enable an advertiser to dynamically change the content of their advertisements on the fly without having to rotate ads or change out creative.  So an advertiser can run one creative and have it change the offer or dealership name depending on some targeting criteria such as geographic location or cookie value.  Think about that!  If the user carries a cookie that is associated with a specific dealer and a specific type of car and that cookie is also associated with a profile that is anonymously known as a segment associated with having had visited a dealership and test-driven a vehicle, than a very specific financing offer can be displayed in the ad that someone who does not fall into that category would not see. 


Wait, that was a really long sentence.  Try that again.  The banner can have dynamic content.  The banner can target an offer based on the cookie value of the browser.  If I am cookied as the guy interested in the Crossover in Denver who has test-driven with a dealer, I can see ads with lease offers for that dealer.  Now that is behavioral targeting, customer re-targeting and smart advertising all rolled-up into the next generation of online advertising.


Shame on the manufacturer who has paid for the online advertising, charged back the advertising to both dealerships; and shame on the dealerships who have paid for the leads.  In the end I will buy the car from the lowest bidder and may even buy it from a dealer from outside the region as I don’t care where it comes from now that I have seen it, driven it and priced it.  I never developed a relationship with anyone because nobody ever gave me a reason to do so.  None of my information ever got leveraged from my preferred way of shopping. 


The dealerships are not demanding better lead management capabilities from the manufacturers and the manufacturers are clearly not demanding better lead management from the dealerships.  They don’t communicate and are not working together to close the deals and move the inventory effectively.  In the end, I am a loosely moving buyer that is not being guided through a process that they control.  And the could have a great deal of control over that process.


Reactionary with Insight.

_uacct = “UA-980395-1”;

Re-Targeting, There’s More Than One Tactic Indeed

So Tom Hespos – who’s writing I enjoy – has contributed an article in iMediaconnection on why using an ad server to re-target customers can be more effective than say a TACODA or  Tom’s been reading my blog (and I read his) and has been paying attention to the idea that there is a better way to recognize, distinguish and message to a known audience of users online than to use event-based targeting.  Like me, I don’t think Tom is discrediting the network targeting model but rather differentiating the idea of customer re-targeting from prospect behavioral targeting.


Tom discussed in his Re-Targeting, There’s More Than 1 Tactic “Prior site visitors can be bucketed according to what they’ve done (or haven’t done, for that matter) on an advertiser’s website. Now it’s easy to distinguish between the casual visitor, loyal purchaser and occasional buyer, using some simple logic rules.”  But his example of choice is DoubleClick.  I am all for DC’s Boomerang technology and think it is great for event-based targeting.  But again it is not leveraging customer knowledge.


“The ad server allows for segmentation based on which action tags have fired.”  Tom is suggesting that the tactic to use is an ad serving solution that relies on pixels placed on web pages that fire when someone lands on certain pages and cookies that user to associate them with that event.


This methodology is very effective, don’t get me wrong.  It is a proven tactic for getting a message in front of someone who is going to be better positioned to receive that message based on events that correlate to that message.  But it has little to do with what you know about that user as a customer.  If the pages viewed are customer-specific (i.e., within a purchasing environment) than yes you have cookied them as customers.  But what about customer attributes in your CRM system?


You could go one step further … Tom doesn’t talk about this – but of course he was limited to 700 words – but you can share customer profiles with DC and have them correlate customized cookies for you.  Most people don’t but you can.  DC can write cookies to your customer’s browser so that they can actually recognize someone and re-target them based on attributes you have defined but they are static. 


So you can say, anyone who lands on thank you page A will get cookie A, and that is high value customer.  Anyone who lands on landing page B will get cookie B, and that is frequent shopper.  And so on.  So there is more than 1 tactic.  Tom is right.


But there are limitations.  First of all, you are limited to targeting based on a third party cookie.  This is actually a HUGE limitation.  Jupiter Research said in 2006 that over 43% of third party cookies get deleted within 30 days by either anit-spyware, adware or browser settings.  So less than 60% of the customers will never get re-targeted using the DC cookie.  If it were a first party cookie – the advertiser’s cookie – it would persist far more frequently as it would not be on the blacklists of the anti-spyware companies and would pass the browser blocking settings.


Secondly, a using a DC setup like Tom has suggested means that any data written to the cookie through the ad serving process is maintained by DC.  So all the ads displayed and site combinations are reported by DC.  Access to the data is gate-kept by DC.  This is a re-targeting only process.


With first party ad serving – DirectServe alternative – all of the ad serving data passes through back to the advertiser.  The ad server can not gate-keep the acquisition marketing data and prevent the advertiser from controlling their own data.  Gaining an understanding of how someone becomes a lead or customer or how an existing customer returns is part of the re-targeting program.  The event-based tactic that Tom talks about in his article is not possible, or not made available I should say by DC.  Food for thought, who controls or who owns your data when you work with DoubleClick?


So I agree with Tom, there is more than 1 tactic out there.  You can use TACODA, Dotomi and others for event-based prospecting.  You can use DoubleClick Boomerang for customer re-targeting which is also still event-based.  You can even step it up and have custom data written into the cookie.  But as Tom suggested, get strategic, “…you might want to look at other actions that can define the ways in which a site visitor can interact with your brand.”  If you have customer knowledge stored in a database (CRM), leverage it.  If you are writing cookies based on customer behaviors than target it with first party ad serving.  If you are using site analytic software to track site-side behavior, use a first party cookie so that you can integrate the anonymous behavioral patterns with your CRM profiles.  Then you can integrate your ad serving data too.  Check out Web Analytics and Ad Serving – Proto-Analytics for 2007 for more on that topic.


Anyway, there is more than one way to skin a cat.  But first figure out what you want to end up with when it’s skinned.  Re-targeting opens up doors for you to do a great deal.  You can offer existing customers opportunities to continue to do business with you based on recent activities (event-based behavior) or you can communicate to them based on a more complex model (CRM profiles).  You can learn from how them respond to re-targeting by integrating ad serving data with site-side analytics (first party cookies) and you can develop CRM profiles based on first party cookie data to enhance customer segments for future ad serving targeting (DirectServe).  The cycle opportunities are significant.  It all depends on how deep you want to go down the rabbit hole!


Reactionary with Insight.

_uacct = “UA-980395-1”;

Are CPMs Rising? Will We Hit $19.5B in ’07? How to Spend and Get the Biggest Bang for the Buck. It’s in the Technology You Use.

Are CPMs on the rise?  Is it getting more expensive to advertise online?  Are more advertisers coming online, competing for exposure and driving up the rates?  Will the online spend projections for 2007 be reached or even exceeded as a result of more online advertisers or as a result of publishers driving up rates in response to the demand?  How do you take advantage of available technologies to become more effective with the media you buy to keep your ROI in check, your CPA down and your hair on your head!?!


Did you read the NY Times eCommerce Report today?  Ad Costs on the Web Are Rising, but Perhaps a Bit Irrationally.  Are they?  Haven’t they been for a while now?  But wait a minute.  Are we talking about rate card here or are we talking about actual deals.  Maybe both.  The deals are getting more complex.  The media plans, more comprehensive – web sites, networks, search, email.  How an advertiser leverages the technologies that each medium within the online space makes available can dictate how effective those dollars are spent.  But watch out!  Differentiating technologies that improve performance can cost and the incremental cost can blow your return.  So let’s look for what works.


The NYT does a good job of presenting a few different sides to the picture, because the reality is that rising rates is happening where the pressure is strong and the reverse is happening where it is not.  Where traffic is growing at a pace that is out-stepping demand (like with video) the price is falling.  But the premium pages where everyone wants to be, which continue to have increased traffic, is experiencing rising rates.  Search definitely has rising costs (see my previous post, Banners vs. Search) like on Google.  As more and more advertisers include online in their budgets, the rate pressure increases.  So yeah, rates are getting squeezed from that angle too.  Read the article if you want more examples.


So first let’s look at what you are aiming to accomplish.  Are you branding or going for direct response?  Promoting a message or generating leads, customers and sales?  If you’re direct response, keep it simple.  Email advertising drives actions but with low response rates so test, test and re-test.  Either do it in-house or enlist someone like Exact Target to do it for you.  Keep the budget in check and don’t have expectations that are too high.  Best thing you can do is reserve most of your email advertising as direct marketing to existing customers and then test-market prospecting to reputable lists.


If you read my blog, you know how I feel about Search.  It performs really well in the near term but can quickly grow to be less and less effective over time.  The most successful campaign will quickly become the most expensive if you don’t know what you’re doing or if you leave it on auto-pilot.  So you have to stay on top if it and know that you can’t stay with the terms that work for you now, long-term.  The rates will climb as they perform so set your thresholds and when you hit them, dump the terms and move on. 


Using a SEO provider will be helpful if you are buying in volume.  Ad servers that provide SEO integrated with their tools are a nicety since the reports are integrated with the banner campaigns, but remember you are getting a service that is outside of the wheelhouse of what ad servers do.  It’s always best going to people who are working at their core competency.    SEO is a technical science that is still rapidly evolving (believe it or not).  Google has changed the Adwords pricing model so now it costs more to keep checking the bids, so technically-advancing SEO companies will be gaining ground faster than ad servers for whom SEO is peripheral to their business. 


Banner advertising is a foundation of a campaign.  Now we can look at both Direct Response and Branding campaigns.  If you’re running direct response, it’s CPA all the way or remnant network inventory at remnant-priced CPMs.  Remnant inventory should not be getting more expensive.  More people going online every day and spending more time online every day means more inventory so buy aggressively. 


If you use an ad server with DR, you will gain the ability to A/B test creative and messages and optimize your campaign.  In turn, you will generate more leads from the networks and sites.  Obviously you’re not going to go with an ad server if you’re buying on CPA alone.  The ad serving costs will be astronomical.  But if you have CPM buys you should run them through the ad server and then run the same creative through your CPA buys. 


Try to always have at least some CPM portion buy even if you are a Direct Response advertiser so that you can be testing and improving your creative.  The reason for doing this is that networks who are delivering to you on a CPA are optimizing their inventory.  As your performance drops, your ad play drops.  You won’t even know when or why it is happening or which of your banners are producing the decrease in performance of plays vs. click-thrus but your lead flow will diminish.  So have a place to be testing creative so you can float optimized creative through your CPA buys.


With branding campaigns you are obviously more apt to be buying on a CPM basis.  Even if you are looking to generate some level of response, but not a typical Direct Response campaign (e.g., lead generating) you may be buying more premium inventory.  In this circumstance, you really need to be looking at the available technologies because you are entering the realm of rising CPMS.  You are going to be the most concerns with diminishing ROI.


So let’s look at ad networks.  Let’s look at behavioral targeting.  Let’s look at customer re-targeting.  Let’s look at campaign optimization and other forms of targeting.  Let’s look at storyboarding.  And let’s look at other ways you can leverage the ad server cookie file.


Before we jump into all of that, when you buy on premium sites, if you are not paying close attention to your campaigns, reporting frequently, rotating creative and optimizing campaign performance with a competitively priced ad server you are simply wasting your clients’ (or your own) money.  Ad servers are designed to optimize campaign performance so if you are buying in an environment wherein CPMS are rising, negotiate solid, competitive ad serving fees that decrease as your volume increases (no fixed CPMs people) and use the hell out of the ad server to maximize your campaign performance.


Ad servers provide a host of targeting and optimization capabilities like day-part, geo, storyboarding, limits and cookie-targeting.  Know what your ad server can do and leverage these technologies because they don’t (or shouldn’t) cost any extra.  Turn to your ad serving partner (not vendor) and express your issue with rising costs and get them to help you maximize how you use their product.  Don’t let them charge you for the training you need to become a more proficient user of their tools.  Optimize your campaigns so that you are maximizing your return.  Storyboarding can limit the frequency of an ad –play to an individual.  Great.  What about other ways to leverage the cookie file?  Can you define data in your ad server’s cookie for additional targeting?  We do it all the time. 


Ad networks should allow you the opportunity to see site performance data.  They may not give you performance on all sites, but you should be able to dive into the top-X performing sites.  When you buy on a CPM, get access to the data and maximize your exposure by managing your campaign. 


You have two choices with networks.  You can let them serve your creative or you can use an ad server.  If you use an ad server, you maintain control over creative optimization and you leave site optimization to the network.  If you let the network serve creative you are entrusting both to the network.  Do you have an ad server in place?  If you do, than you should be using it to optimize your creative on the network because the networks are (whether they admit it or not) ultimately optimizing the creative-site play combinations in a way that optimizes their inventory usage.  You can improve performance overall by managing your creative rotations yourself.  Then you can apply pressure on the network to optimize site placements.  Look at the reports you get from them on site performances and start culling sites that don’t work or negotiate a variable CPM for tiers of sites based on performance if you start to recognize a pattern.


Behavioral Targeting.  We talk a lot about BT.  Network BT is different than ad server BT.  TACODA or charge an incremental fee for BT but it is not super significant and it does improve your performance on their networks.  It is a technology that is worth taking advantage of for prospecting new people on the internet.  Test it and measure a campaign with it and without and you will be able to determine if it is right for you. 


You shouldn’t be seeing too much price pressure on the networks, at least not in 2007.  I say this because there is such a surge in the number of new networks that competition will be putting pressure on their prices.


Ad server behavioral targeting like DoubleClick’s Boomerang is an entirely different story.  The difference is that DC BT is looking for the DC cookie anywhere on the internet it can find it based on the same cookie/pixel combination that a TACODA or deploys.  They pixel the advertiser’s site, wait for events on the advertiser’s site such as certain actions like page views of products or purchase/thank you pages and then cookie the user.  If/when they encounter that user on the internet, they recognize the cookie, associate it back to the event(s) and allow for targeting of an ad based on the anonymous event.  Great conceptual technology but expensive.  DC is already a premium-rate ad server so when you tack on Boomerang you are looking at high fees.  Couple that with rising CPMs on publishers and you are quickly looking at the potential of a negative ROI.  You need to look at this very closely.  Many big-block advertisers with exclusive contracts with DC, or agencies with exclusive DC contracts, don’t use Boomerang because it has proven to not be cost effective.  Ask for their client list and you will get their biggest names.  Then ask which ones are using Boomerang and you will see what I mean.  Do your own analysis before you even bother testing it.  Atlas and Mediaplex too it’s the same story.


Customer Re-targeting is similar to BT, only it involves the reading of an advertiser’s first party cookie rather than the ad server’s cookie.  TruEffect, for example looks for an advertiser’s customers who are tagged with the advertiser’s cookies, which indicate a customer segment (such as shopping frequency or buying habits or preferences, etc.) and then allow for the ability of that advertiser to target that user accordingly with an ad through a campaign anywhere on the internet at any time.  This technology has no incremental cost in terms of the ad serving so it is a benefit of working with TruEffect over other ad servers.  Direct Response advertisers can use it to drive recurring revenue opportunities from existing customers.  They can up-sell, cross-promote or highlight products or services to individuals based on known shopping preferences rather than re-prospecting an existing customer through an advertising campaign.  Customer re-targeting is a great campaign addition to be used in combination with something like TACODA or prospecting BT.  This is an example of a technology that will drastically improve performance without increasing your costs, effectively increasing ROI.  DirectServe, as it is called, can also be integrated with Search campaigns as discussed in Search and Networks: Better Together – I Think So


So there you go.  CPMs may be rising.  We can see that the pressure to drive up CPMs represents an increase in the number of buyers (demand) and publishers seeking higher rates for their products will push the 2007 ad spend up and probably over the projected $19B mark.  We need to be well aware of how we allocate our budgets and that we are taking advantage of the technological benefits out there that will help us maximize campaign efficiencies so that we can keep our overall costs in check to maximize the ROI.  Costs are rising, ad serving rates are steady or even dropping if you are buying more inventory as an agency overall.  Don’t get sucked-in to value-added services that chip away at your ROI without some complimentary tests that will prove their value.  Vendors do want to demonstrate their value to you and the pressure you will be under to maintain ROI will mean you will have to get more aggressive in your negotiation with vendors.  Good luck. 

_uacct = “UA-980395-1”;

Ad Networks and Ad Servers

The iMedia Agency Summit has prompted a lot of great topic conversation and some great articles that are worthy of comments, reactions and insight. 


A number of clients that we work with come to us with the conundrum of working with both web sites and networks when they advertise online. 


Dave Morgan has professed the rise of ad networks and he is not alone.  Tom Hespos recently wrote how the Brand Value of Ad Networks [is] on the Rise.  There is no doubt that the ad networks are stretching their wings and are trying to move away from being simple aggregators of remnant inventory.


Ad Networks are offering advertisers behavioral targeting.  They are enabling advertisers (at least some ad networks) to customize campaigns by selecting sites or at least site groupings for campaigns when buying by CPM.  Some ad networks are developing hands-on programs to promote branding strategies for advertisers that help the network move away from the pure CPC, CPA model and offer up the opportunity for greater revenue diversification for the network with a better value proposition to the advertiser.  In the end, the networks are trying and with time we’ll see who rises to the top.  See my post on consolidation of networks: Where Behavioral Targeting and CRM Meet, and Where They Can Marry. 


With time we will also see whether the savvier agencies buy into the idea of networks being able to really offer branding and awareness-capable campaign value or if in the end it is about direct response.  Time will tell but I think that the Summit produced some great arguments and there are some good discussions that came out of it.  I’ll tackle some more of them shortly.


Tom Hespos argued in his article that site duplication, when working with multiple networks, is one issue that you need to watch out for in managing online campaigns through networks.  Great point.  He also said the following which was the impetus for this posting:


Another way to minimize duplication is to look at cookie data from past buys. New tools are emerging to look at past campaign data for the purposes of figuring out which networks duplicated the most and for scenario planning with unduplicated reach in mind. Look to your ad server of choice for help with this one.


When we work with advertisers who are using our ad servers, we enable them to take control of their campaigns holistically online, across all the sites and networks they advertise on.  When you work with an ad network you have the choice of letting them serve your ads for you.  No problem there – it’s like letting a site serve your ads only they offer two additional features: (1) They can strategically optimize your creative for you across all the sites in the network upon which they play your ads and (2) they have solid reporting (a lot of them do).  But you can get both of these capabilities with an ad server.  In fact, the reporting with an ad server – by creative – will be far more robust because of post-click analysis and the grand view of the entire campaign (all sites and all networks you advertise for the campaign).  And the ability to centrally manage, rotate and optimize creative across every site AND every network simultaneously will cut way down on the headaches of having each network doing it for you individually.


Looking into the cookie data that an ad server collects for you with regard to your campaigns across ad networks … now that opens up a whole world of possibilities.  Thanks Tom.  If you work with a third-party ad server, what can you find?  What can you see?  First of all, what is available to you?


A third-party ad server covets the data they amass as it is core to the asset they build for profiling and targeting.  The one thing you will not be getting your hands on, is that data.  Ask Atlas for a copy of their log files!  LOL.  However, for a fee, you can get interpretations of that data. 


An ad server can look at the cookie log files and determine publisher, site, site section, banner plus log data like IP, browser type, time of day, etc.  But all of this is historical and can only help you keep tabs on your networks after the fact.  It is a lot of data-digging and will get expensive fast.


Here is another way.  I know that I am always espousing the First Party thing, but check this out … serve through a first-party ad server and use first party cookies.  You can have the ad server write the directly to the cookie: the site, site section and banners played in sequential order in real time.  Then when the lead lands on the advertiser’s designated web page, the advertiser can read the cookie – their first-party cookie – and can see exactly where the lead came from and how the lead was derived.  In fact, not only will the advertiser see how the lead was derived, but sequentially every banner-play that previously led up to the lead-generation. 


When you instrument the tags for the ad server with each network they can trigger markers into the first-party cookie-writing sequence so you will know whether site A came from network 1 or network 2.


This first part stuff, which TruEffect calls DirectServe has a lot going for it.  Check it out when you have time.

_uacct = “UA-980395-1”;

Where Behavioral Targeting and CRM Meet, and Where They Can Marry

MediaPost’s Behavioral Insider an article entitled “Beyond Surfing Data: Where Behavioral Targeting And CRM Meet” in which he interviews Undertone Networks CEO Mike Cassidy.


Phil’s telling opening comment triggered this Reactionary with Insight post:

“[Behavioral Targeting]
remains for most publishers little more than a tool for squeezing a little extra revenue out of “sub-par” inventory, and for most advertisers a tactic for generating higher response rates. Worthy goals– but hardly paradigm shifting.”


First of all, I think it is important to point out that this interview sets up what I believe to be the front-end of what BT has to offer.  As a prospecting tool BT sets up an advertiser with the opportunity to draw forward individuals who have been primed by preferred events that increase their potential to respond to future advertising.  Now I have been strong in the past with my arguments that the ability to predict people’s responses to advertisements based on event-based targeting is mediocre at best, but I do admit it is stronger than not deploying BT at all.  Cost-determining should make this a decision worthy of evaluation.


But this interview introduces more that is worth your consideration.  When BT and CRM begin to come together, we are looking at much more than simply increasing an advertiser’s ability to drive prospects at a higher rate.  We are talking about what we do with higher-valued prospects after we have acquired them.  And that get’s pretty interesting.


The article defines the event-based targeting on Undertone as follows:


By placing a pixel on the home page, advertisers can track how customers or would-be customers engage with the brand, segmenting customers with as much granularity as they wish in terms of what and how much, or how often, they buy; what types of content they browse; the intensity or casualness of their interest; and how short or how long their sales purchase cycle tends to be. They can then follow these customers anywhere on our network and serve them ads based on their customer profiles.”


This is does not sound altogether much different than BT on TACODA, or other networks.  Dave Morgan’s recent blog post, The Ad Network Resurgence talks about how there are going to be more and more networks over time.  I asked him what happens when BT becomes the commonly offered by each network and represents less of a differentiator.  Undertone’s BT sounds like a solid representation of what is becoming more commonly expected by what was originally brought to market by networks like TACODA.  I guess to cover basis, over time, advertisers that see BT as being core to their strategy will begin to buy on more and more networks that offer BT and perhaps buy on less and less sites and networks that don’t make this available.


So the only limitation of this is of course that you have to advertise on the specific network to reach that browser.  There are some advertisers out that that may advertise on more than one BT network and then pixel their sites with more than one BT network’s pixels so that they can track and target people from each network but there is no cross-over tracking and targeting. 


Think about that.  I can be seeing the same person on the same networks, have had targeted three separate times and never known it.


Say I use TACODA, and Undertone and pixel the same five pages on my site and then I advertise on all three networks, if I encounter the same individual on my site I have just tracked her by all three BT networks at the same time.  Good thing insomuch that if that individual goes to any of those networks I will hit her with a targeted ad.  But what happens with the sequence of ads?  What happens when she goes to each network 3 times and then on the fourth time she clicks on an ad on one of the networks.  I don’t know that its actually the 10th time I’ve seen her, only the fourth according to the data provided by the network that acquired her.


The interview with Mike Cassidy talks about post-acquisition integration capabilities with CRM.  I have not heard much about BT integration possibilities with event-based targeting.  Anonymous click-stream data doesn’t really offer that much integration opportunity.  And there is even less opportunity when the data format is associated with the network’s third-party cookie.


Cassidy says that an advertiser can “…evolve and refine both their advertising messaging (for greater relevancy and timeliness) and their customer profiling over time, based on a potentially far richer data set. A whole new universe of possibilities opens up for more efficient up-selling, cross-selling and closing the sales loop in the sales cycle.” 


Nothing more than that is said, but I think that it’s worth exploring here.


A lead that is acquired through a BT network initially comes through like any other lead from any other network ad.  He will have come through a unique click-thru that an advertiser will presumably setup that will tell what network they came from.  Then the network will provide reporting that will report on the pixel tracking so that should report the pixels, ads and sites that are associated with the lead.  Now I have advertiser tell me that certain popular BT networks can not report to them the navigational pathway of the pixel-tracking.  So if an advertiser pixels a lot of pages, and a browser can bounce around the site a bit, there is no way to know the pathway of that navigation.  But of course, BT is not a site analysis tool.


So the advertiser gets the data they normally get.  If they use an ad server they will get a little more data, ad rotations, etc. and then of course they get the data that I have described that the network provides.  But there is no integration of this data.


When the lead lands on their web site, the lead can get tagged by a CRM system with a first party cookie for the first time.  Now the browser can be tagged, the tag can be associated with the source and the lead can now be tracked by the site analysis system (Webside Story, Omniture, Web Trends, etc.) and any one of the numerous CRM tools) as a lead converts to a customer, etc..  All of the acquisition marketing data associated with BT stays with the BT network and all of the CRM data stays with the CRM system.


Complete isolation of acquisition marketing data and customer data.


CAN THIS BE DONE DIFFERENTLY?  SEE MY NEXT POST (tomorrow/Monday): Marrying Behavioral Marketing and CRM with First Party Ad Serving

_uacct = “UA-980395-1”;

Maximize Return with a Marketing Model

Blow me away Charles Haggerty!  Your post on iMedia Connection, Maximize Return with a Marketing Model written in the style of John Stuart Mills, utopian and inspiring.  As I read the article I kept wondering what agency you hailed from and was only disappointed to track back and see that you were with iProspect, a premium SEM company.  As I read your article I thought to myself, if this guy can do what he is talking about, this is the agency for my clients!


Charles described the ultimate multi-channel marketing analysis process, all hail-the consolidated, holistic view into all aspects of a marketing campaign.  Some of what Charles describes does exist.  He describes 800-number analysis, direct-mail tracking and of course online tracking.  Interactive as the best capabilities as most of us already know.  Search, banner campaigns and email all have great insight into what is effective and what is not.  Integration of site analytics like Omniture, Webside Story and WenTrends with Ad Serving is the next step (see my post on Let’s Talk About Technical Extensibility – Making Things Better).  This is what is coming next and I will write more on it soon.  DirectServe technology, first party ad serving from any partner, can bleed log file data to a site analytics provider and stream data about acquisition marketing to customer analytics.  This will close the loop in the online space.


Multi-channel marketing tool sets are on the market.  Blackfoot Analytix built on an Oracle platform comes close to doing it on many levels and Theorem is another one that incorporates human and systematic analysis to create a holistic view into multichannel marketing.  There are others out there but like Charles said, there is not a complete toolset, yet.


Of course to cost of analysis is an issue.  Being able to have a clear view of how someone became a customer where they saw an ad in a magazine, heard about a product on the radio, saw an ad online and then clicked on a search term is difficult to measure CPA.  We may never get there.  My recent post, Search and Networks: Better Together – I Think So! suggests a mechanism of leveraging first party ad serving to combine search and banner advertising with behavioral targeting to get an accurate CPA measurement.  So at least there is a stronger view in the online space.  Couple that with what I describe above, a web site analytics tool, and the holistic interactive view is there. 

_uacct = “UA-980395-1”;

Search and Networks: Better Together – I Think So!


Mollie Spilman,’s Chief Sales and Marketing Officer interestingly suggested a holistic media approach in her iMediaConnect article, Search and Networks: Better Together.  She urges an advertiser to combine search and network advertising together to create a more powerful, cohesive campaign.  Her position is that with the rising costs of search (see my post Banners vs. Search), banner advertising can be a good offset to balance the investment.  But her really convincing argument was found in the following statement:


“…while search is limited to generic text listings, behavioral targeting enables you to follow up with a more compelling sales message, using ads that are tailored to the user’s online activity. Rather than simply hoping that the consumer will return to your site after researching or comparing prices across the net, you can take action– serving up your most powerful message or promotion all across the network.”


So if you combine BT with search you can tag someone the first time they come through from search and then target them in the future based on that search.  Provided that you are strategic enough to couple both the cost of the search and the cost of the BT back to the eventual sale, measuring the CPA accordingly, you may find the approach to be more effective than just one or the other on their own. 


Now, Mollie’s shameful plug of a network as the Chief Sales and Marketing Office of is totally acceptable.  But I would love to see some data behind this idea as it is compelling.  It would be hard for most advertisers – let alone many agencies – to track and calculate the CPA under this method, but if someone is tagged from the initial landing page based on the search term, recognized later through the BT recognition process, retagged, and then tracked through a conversion process you could have a pretty solid argument.  Would it be a cost effective acquisition?  It would certainly be an accurate measurement of the acquisition.  It would be a more accurate depiction of the holistic investment then just looking at search or just banner advertising with or w/o BT.


You see I have always said that the technology is here.  My blog is committed to finding the technologies and then proposing other ways to using them to do more.  So here goes….  First party ad serving can do this too, but we may be able to eliminate a step or two in the process. 


Let’s assume that when someone lands on the site from the search term they are cookied with a first party cookie rather than a third party cookie – like the cookie.  Then let’s use first party ad serving, like DirectServe to do behavioral targeting, using the first party cookie instead of the third party cookie.  What will happen is that when the browser is recognized the next time they are encountered, the cookie recognition will be based on the advertiser’s own first party cookie and the ad served will still be event-based.  So far things are pretty much the same.  But when the individual clicks on the ad and is driven to the site, the advertiser can read their own cookie and will know the search term that generated the lead, the banner that generated the click and the site that generated the lead.  So when it comes to calculating the CPA, all of the data will be aggregated into one place and will be readily available.


If we build off of Mollie’s model – which I originally proposed, not Mollie, so don’t shoot her – you would have to calculate the ROI from the search campaign, calculate the ROI from the network banner campaigns and then synchronize the two with some kind of algorithm.


I am liking this idea a lot.  I think that Mollie is right here.  I think that a great way to bring down the rising cost of search is in fact to combine it with BT banner advertising.  And maybe using a network would be an affective medium since the inventory will be vast and the CPMs are lower.  Premium networks also do get some good inventory as I have mentioned in the past.  But we definitely need to be able to have a way to calculate the combined CPA of the lead which comes first through search and subsequently through BT and the banner.  I’ve got one easy way to do it.

_uacct = “UA-980395-1”;