Marketing Groups: Closing the Great Divide

Ted Shergalis is chief product officer and founder of [x+1], and he contributed Marketing Groups: Closing the Great Divide to iMediaConnection this morning.


Ted’s experience in working with marketers should be significant and therefore I would guess has relevance to the topic.  What concerns me, however, is the generalization with which he describes the silo organizational structure between his clients’ external marketing (media buying and advertising) and customer marketing (web site management, etc.).  Not only does Ted confirm that the teams working on these two functions are usually physically separated but so too are the technologies they use.


External online efforts – media planning, buying, ad serving, email marketing, mobile, search and analytics – are all operating independently from site-side efforts –  like landing page optimization, content management, eCRM, site analytics. 


First, let’s gain a little perspective here.  Ted is from [X+1].  Their whole gig is about optimizing conversions and customer penetration within a site.  Furthermore, they also tout their skills at connecting these two silos together.  Their Media+1 and Site+1 products connect Ad Serving and Site-Side optimization together like an adhesive to offer marketers a cohesive view from the external efforts through to the internal efforts.


I am not going to dive into those two products here much.  Media+1 is basically the former Poindexter ad server, a tier-two player with a couple of marquee clients that has been folded into their primary core competency which is what the Site+1 product is all about.  The rebranding of the company from Poindexter to [x+1] has enabled them to carve this great niche in the industry and now they partner with tier-1 ad servers like DoubleClick when strong ad serving is required or when major clients are on the table.


Anyway, I know I bitch and moan when people get on iMediaConnection and self-promote, so I can’t criticize ted here for not mentioning [x+1], but I like it when people also give us some direction.  In other words my narrow rules say its okay to mention your company so long as you do it in context with other companies as well.  Serve as a resource and not a self-promotional artist.  In this case, however, maybe Ted didn’t feel he could come up with anyone else that could do it like [x+1] J


One thing that comes to mind, however, when I read his characterization of the outward and inward marketing silos is how the head of marketing in those organizations must be failing.  Online is a component of marketing.  If the org is big enough to have a head of interactive – s/he is failing.  If it is not that big and it has a head of marketing alone, then s/he must be failing.  I say this because in this day and age there are too many different ways to pull these two efforts together and if they are not talking to each other the problems are obvious, the tension will be thick as butter and the questions that can’t be answered about the performance of the organization will be more significant than the performance that can be measured.  Intelligence will recognize that there is a major problem.  So I wonder either, (a) if Ted has really screwed-up clients or (b) he is using his worst clients as examples in his articles or, (c) the type of opportunities that I am encountering represent more of what is out there than what is not.


Is it really that screwed up on the back end of the curve?


External online marketing needs to tag web sites and calculate data.  So internal marketing has to get curious about what is going on.  Internal marketing is using analytics to track internal behavioral and CMS to maximize conversions.  A Director-level person who oversees these two units has to be gathering data from both groups and must begin to get curious about the relationships between the two – this would represent common sense intelligence.  If not, then stupid people are running a lot of marketing organizations.  Maybe that is a truth.  But I am meeting a lot of intelligent people.  I work on the front of the curve too … so maybe I work with smarter people … but I think our industry as a whole is comprised of people on the top and front-end of the curve.  I think that a lot of people struggle with these problems, but I also think that the technologies are in place or are being put in place to take maximize.  As always, time is the limited resource.


Anyway, placing these two efforts together is just common sense.  This is why behavioral targeting has become so popular.  This is why lead generation advertising is becoming so popular.  This is why landing-page A/B testing with companies like CoreMetrics is gaining so much attention.  None of these initiatives can happen without internal marketing being at least engaged.


First party ad serving requires the marriage of internal and external marketing.  Maybe that is part of what is so unique about where my projects have taken me.  I sit in meetings with people who know each other, and look at each other and we work together to figure out ownership.  eCRM or site-side analytics will set first party cookies for external marketing to target with the ad server.  Media Planning and buying will set strategy based on the customer profiles that internal marketing establishes.  Creative is built accordingly.  Ad serving targets new and existing customers in real-time.  Leads and prospects and existing customers are all driven back to the site(s).  Internal web site management receives users and pushes them into different directions based on cookie variables and eCRM records transactional patterns while site analytics records behavioral patterns and sets new cookies for future targeting.  New customer profiles are created and new segments are built for future re-targeting and the cycle continues.  With first party ad serving and the marriage of first party ad serving and site side analytics, you have the integration of internal and external marketing within an advertiser.  Everyone works together with a product like DirectServe™ and WebSideStory.


But there are other ways to do this too.  If internal and external are coordinated by a single leadership role, they should be made aware of the benefits of each other’s efforts.  And in my experience they usually are.  Ted could have shed some light on how different technologies can be used to do this in his article, because I think he did a good job at challenging us to question whether our organizations are functioning properly or not.  If you are falling prey to the problems ted describes, what do you do about it?  I guess you can call Ted.  But first you should have some idea as to how you should diagnose your problems.  Then you should have some directive as to who you should call, in addition to Ted, for some insight.  You can’t get all of that from one article I know.  But I’ve given you some thoughts.


Evaluate your chain of command.  If you are the head of the organization, challenge your people to construct an information flow chart to see what they each can capture and then line the two groups up and see where they connect.  Ultimately this is about the acquisition of new leads, conversions and the growth of customers. 


Your external marketing team needs to be empowered to attack the market with tools that will enable them to generate new leads and re-target existing customers simultaneously, since both will exist within any pool (website) upon which they advertise. 


Internal marketing needs to have the capacity to capture both audiences when they come in, continue the messaging strategy, leverage CMS to position the appropriate content and leverage the knowledge gained by the ad serving process (what worked and what did not work) to maximize the conversion rates on prospects and the recurring revenue opportunities on existing customers. 


Finally internal marketing needs to convert the knowledge it gains through its conversion processes into media decision-making recommendations for external marketing so that the cycle can continue specifically with regard to re-targeting existing customers.


Reactionary with insight

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3 Steps to Targeting Nirvana, Bennett Zucker Gives Us Open Market Benefits that will Improve BT

Go-Bennett, a great article in iMediaConnection on Thursday.  Three Steps to Targeting Nirvana defines behavioral targeting today and outlines an open marketplace, an open technology platform and what he characterizes as ‘an open mind.’


Up front, Bennett makes the argument that the onus of responsibility for accurate and aggressive BT should not fall on publishers.  Efforts results in wasted inventory, poor performance and lack of attention that should truly benefit the advertiser.  Advertiser-directed BT is where it’s at.  We have the technology and the science is far more impactful.  In fact, Bennett does a great job of presenting an example of a car-buying scenario which illustrates how advertiser-driven BT better serves publishers.


In the section on open market place, Bennett tries to present a clean argument.  Advertisers ideally should have the opportunity to cherry pick the inventory they buy, so as to promote the opportunity to select the inventory that will meet their BT needs.  I know that Bennett has struggled with the “I don’t want to be a self-promoting author” and so kudos for giving us several examples in your story.  Right Media is clearly the leading auction exchange model in the space.  But AdBrite is a solid player and a good alternative for people to be looking at, especially if they want to have an alternative to Right Media or want to investigate options before jumping into bed with a specific vendor (if you can even call RM a vendor, more like a facilitator). 


Anyway, Bennett is trying to paint the utopian picture for us here – advertisers cherry picking inventory.  I know that in theory that is what the auction model enables you to do – bid on the inventory that you want and forego that which you don’t want.  But most of the inventory on the Right Media Exchange is network  inventory so you really can’t be so laser targeted.  The RM Direct Exchange, however, may be something to look at in terms of publisher-specific inventory.


Bennett is honest to himself and us insomuch that he acknowledges that networks are inherently limited by the design of only being able to offer BT within their own network.  So even if you could cherry pick the inventory you wanted, you could only deploy BT on that network.  Using an ad server with BT would overcome that, if the ad server BT can be deployed across the networks.  Bennett surprisingly does not go into this in his article.


Here is where I think the article could use a fourth and maybe even a fifth section.


Requirement 4 – Ad serving that Re-targets With BT Agnostically


Several ad server offer BT that can extend across multiple networks.  Event-based BT like Boomerang by DoubleClick for example can enable and advertiser to track behavioral of people who have been on their site and then target them across the web – including across networks.  If an advertiser were to deploy event-based BT in conjunction with selective inventory buys on an auction exchange, they could be deploying BT with far more refinement.


Deploying first party ad serving by TruEffect is a second alternative.  With first party ad serving, the inventory acquired through the auction can be targeted using re-targeting methods of the first party cookie and any existing customer can be recognized and re-targeted in real-time.  Treated like any other inventory, all inventory bought through the network could easily be re-targeted using a DirectServe™ implementation.


Requirement 5Ad Serving that Integrates


A final consideration today, and a growing requirement is a concept that I have heard advertisers call a ‘universal’ or ‘megapixel.’  In the days where sites are getting tagged by ad servers, publishers, networks, site-side analytics and pretty much any other tracking mechanisms, there is a need for a single pixel that can shoulder other tracking beacons.


Dynamic Logic’s Universal Tag is one example of this kind of technology.  Shouldering multiple tags, this universal pixel enables an advertiser to tag the site one time.  DoubleClick has an alliance with DL so that they can offer this solution to their clients.  TruEffect has a similar technology called TruTags™ whereby they have one tag that is placed on the site and through it, multiple tags can be managed so that an advertiser only has to tag the site one time and any other tags can be added or removed through a single common interface.  The piggy-backing enables the advertiser or agency to eliminate the need to go back and keep tagging the site eveytime a new netrok buy comes into play.


The great benefit of these megapixels is that with Bennett’s story, one could buy inventory at auction – which will almost always be network inventory – use an ad sever that deploys BT like event-based or First Party DirectServe™ and then use a universal tag or megapixel to reduce tagging requirements as each new network is bought.  Snazzy.  Good article Bennett.


Reactionary with Insight.

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Want to Start a Behavioral Targeting Network? Here’s One Way

As I sit on a plane tonight, I look around and think to myself about all of the people with me.  I think about the things they are doing to occupy themselves and the places that they will go after the plane arrives.  I am not the first person to ponder these questions while in this situation, I know, but I am still asking them in my head while I am here. 


Some of these people will get on another plane – and I’m not concerned with them.  They have a longer night ahead of them than I do.  Sorry for them.  But others will head home or to some other venue and, eventually, whenever, will find themselves to a computer.  That’s who I am always the most interested in. 


But how many of the people on this plane are thinking about the things they need to get done when they get off of this plane.  Who is still “engaged?”  Probably a few.  How many of them are thinking about the emails they didn’t get to before they left.  The unfinished business.  More than a few of them if they’re anything like me.  Those are the people that have time left to log after this plane arrives.  Those are the business-minded people that are still mentally engaged and a 6pm flight out of Denver to anywhere is full of people who have been working all day.


And then there are the rest of the people onboard.  The disengaged business people who have unplugged while they are on a flight.  Go-figure.  They read a book, look at the SkyMall magazine, watch a movie on their laptop or take a nap.  I can’t relate.  Well, I do like the SkyMall magazine!  And of course then there is the “vacationer” if you will.  This individual is off to visit someone or someplace and is far less stressed by something that needs to get done en route than they were about what to pack for the trip.


I’ve just described at least 3 distinct, different personality types among probably 20 more categorical behavioral types all sharing the same recycled air on board this cramped Boeing 777. 


These 3 types of people are behaviorally predictable as well.  The engaged business person will whip-out the laptop and keep going.  She will write emails that will go out later.  She will read articles that were downloaded in preparation for the flight.  And she will work on the old PowerPoint deck.  Meanwhile, the disengaged business person and vacationer will look to be entertained or relax to pass the time.


Side-note:


There is nothing worse than sitting on a plane, and looking over that guy’s shoulder and figuring out who he’s pitching to in the morning based on his slide deck.  As the head of a sales team it curdles the food in my belly to think that someone I manage could be out there exposing my company that way.


So here’s a hint: leave the names of your “clients” or “prospects” off of your PowerPoint decks while you work on them when you are on a plane.  Nobody should be seeing your projections, pitches and deal-points in conjunction with the companies you are intending on working with, or with whom you are already working with while you are onboard a flight.  If you can work on a blank slide too, without your branded template that’s even better.  Don’t let people see who YOU are either.  Anonymous flying is safe when you’re doing your business.  SO many people act like they are sitting at their desk while they work on their presentations on a flight, never figuring that a competitor, partner or other industry-player is sitting next to or behind them.  Think people.


Back to this flight.  United Airlines plays it’s “made for in-flight” programming, which includes paid-for commercials.  And it is obvious how these three behavioral types get targeted on the plane too.  Each commercial is looking to reach one of the groups I’ve described.  They have tried to catch the business person who was still “in business mode” with business-level frequent-flyer messages that highlight loyalty benefits; and they showed some technology-related ads that could be useful to a frequent business traveler.  If she was listening in, they were on-message with her state of mind. 


The ‘checked-out’ passenger – who could be engaged with the things that might matter later, when they returned to home or work – might have liked the information on great business venues in multiple cities. 


And then there were the ads for the vacationer; destination ads, vacation ads, ads about products, etc. 


Each of the three segments is being targeted on board this two and half hour flight.  But there was nothing people can do with these messages in the moment.  It’s worse than sitting in front of a TV at home.  There is an inability to take action when you are on a plane.  Nobody is writing down the information they see in an ad on a plane?  An awareness campaign has to wear off by the time the flight lands.  At least that’s my perspective. Although the behaviors are targeted, the results are really not going to amount to much.  In the end, it’s just paid advert-ainment if you ask me.


So what about the business person who has time left to log when he gets to his destination?  Will he catch-up on the events of his day, finish the emails and just get out of there?


For a lot of us, we have to get online and check our email through a web-app (or maybe a VPN) if we’re not at home.  We need to go check what happened with the market.  We need to read a few key trade sites to make sure we know what happened during the day and see what people like Tom Hespos or Brad Berens had to say.  And we need to basically unwind with some online time.  J


What’s my point of all of this?  Let’s think about the business traveler, engaged and disengaged, once they get to their destination.


Think about the value that there is in knowing that someone has just undergone this huge experience?  How do you capture the fact that someone has just visited at least two airports, sat on a plane, breathed re-circulated air, dealt with delays, cabs, parking lots, traffic jams, deadlines, hotels and the pressures and annoyances of travel?  Anyone of those experiences can be used for behavioral targeting over the next 12 to 24 hours with a HUGE possibility of advertisements.  Knowledge of a person’s travel itinerary opens the door to targeting capabilities like nothing you could ever imagine.


This is an idea that I have had while sitting on a plane, so if you want to do this, call me and we’ll make this happen together.  Essentially, a travel site can become its own behavioral targeting network.  And it would be worth a lot of money to an advertiser.


Follow me closely.


DoubleClick sells behavioral targeting based on the DC cookie.  Over time they have written their cookie on browser across the web, tracked people’s behavior and used categorized browsers based on the sites they visit for targeting.  This is third party ad serving targeting.  Atlas does it pretty well too.  If DC or Atlas encountered someone on the web who has their cookie already, they can interpret the classification of that cookie and target the user with the best-fit advertiser and campaign.


Okay, TruEffect is a first party ad server, with the patent-pending DirectServe™ right?  Under this technology, TruEffect can serve ads out of any domain and can write cookies under any domain name.  So whereas, DC can read and write the DC cookie, TruEffect can read and write any advertiser’s cookie.  The benefit is that when an advertiser is writing their own cookie, TruEffect can target their cookie with ads anywhere on the web.  With DC, DC has to have written the cookie in order to target it.


Now, let’s take a travel site, like Expedia for example who can write their own first party cookies to a user’s browser at the time that they buy their trip.  That cookie can correlate to an anonymous segmentation scheme such as trip type, destination, travel date, presumption of business travel or pleasure, etc.  With travelers tagged, they can now go off onto the internet to be later recognized and targeted by an ad server that can read that travel site’s cookie.  TruEffect’s DirectServe™ is able to do that.


Any advertiser that would be interested in targeting someone that fits an Expedia profile user on the Web, could use DirectServe™ to manage their campaign while advertising online.  They might not always encounter a business traveler, but when they do they will be able to target that user based on the information written to the cookie.


But how would an advertiser gain access to Expedia’s anonymous customer profiles?  If Expedia were to launch their own “behavioral network” they would basically enable an advertiser to reach any user anywhere on the web who matched an Expedia profile.   Advertiser’s could pay Expedia a stipend target travelers while advertising online.  Say United Airlines wanted to advertise on Expedia’s Web site.  For a premium, Expedia could sell UAL the ability to target Expedia customers everywhere on the Web behaviorally according to buying profiles.  Expedia could sell the advertising on its own site and sell the ad serving to UAL across the web at the same time.  Using TruEffect’s DirectServe™, UAL could target Expedia customers all across the Internet behaviorally in addition to on the Expedia site.


Any travel site could do this.  Any transactional site could do this too.  Advertisers could do it too.  So sticking with the UAL model, when someone buys a ticket on UAL.com, UAL could sell the ability to target those individuals to advertise online across the web.  When they sell those in-flight video placements, they could also sell online ad serving capabilities that would target those passengers for when they get off the plane and next logon to a computer.  Anonymous passenger profile segments could be recognized across the web and targeted with suitable products and promotions.  If you sell advertising, and you sell B2C like the two examples I’ve just provided, you could build your own behavioral targeting network that could rival the value of some of the large more generic networks based on the customer segment behavior of your users. 


Again, think about how valuable it would be to an advertiser to be able to target someone who just got off of a plane within the last 24 hours.

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Why Does Google Analytics Report Values That Are So Different Than Ad Servers and Site Analytics Counts?

I had a client call me today and ask, “Why do we need to use an ad server when we have Google Analytics?”  Actually, he was redirecting a client’s question and asking for ammunition, but the question was legitimate.  He wasn’t talking about ad serving per se, but reporting.


 


Google analytics enables an advertiser to measure counts like an ad server and site analytics software and yet the measurements yield very different results.  In fact, the results are always lower, enabling the client to conclude that they must be more accurate.


 


Hold the phones!  Wasn’t it just like up to four months ago that Google was guilty of 20-30% click fraud rates with its Adwords program?  Advertisers started complaining and dollars started shifting away from Google and towards MSN and Yahoo!.  When Marketing Pilgram broke the story in December 2006 the word “Click Fraud” was changed to “Invalid Clicks” and Google demonstrated that they had miraculously instituted a change that resulted in the double-digit error rates dropping to less than 2%.


 


So why are we trusting Google’s counts?  It would seem that Google has simply put some major filtering in place to cover their asses so that Advertisers aren’t getting overcharged any longer.  And now they are the more accurate source of counts? 


 


In the end, however, what Google counts and what the rest of the industry counts when it comes to banner advertising and site-side traffic has to be inherently different.  Just as it is with click-traffic.


 


According to Google: “Different web analytics products may use a variety of methods to track visits to your web site. Therefore, it is normal to see discrepancies between reports created by various products. However, we generally believe that the best way to think of metrics across different web analytics programs is to think in terms of trends, as opposed to numbers by themselves.”


 


Google presents that their tracking methods can introduce a difference in reporting values: Cookie-based tracking vs. IP + User Agent tracking.


 


Cookie-based tracking relies on a browser setting the cookie. If cookies are disabled, cookie-based analytics programs (such as Google Analytics) will not count the visit.


 


IP + User Agent tracking typically uses log file analysis for its data. Ad servers rely on this methodology. 


 


Another discrepancy that Google talks about is a resultant of first party vs. third party cookies.  “Because 3rd party cookies are set by a source other than the website being visited, they’re often blocked by browsers and security software. Google Analytics uses 1st party cookies.” 


 


Ad servers use third party cookies and therefore these may be getting blocked by Google Analytics.  That would represent a huge discrepancy between the ad server counts and the Google counts.


 


So Google and ad server and site analytics do it differently.  That makes sense.  Now back to my client’s question.  Why would you use an ad server when you have Google Analytics? 


 


For one thing, Google limits a site visit per user to one time every 30 minutes.  Ad servers, by comparison, would not filter such behavior, but would recognize the fact it is a unique visitor (using a cookie) coming to the page more than once.  So impressions would be counted separately from unique impressions.  Google would simply filter the multiple impressions out and give the unique impression.


 


My suggestion to my client was to convince their client to deploy a site analytics toolset so that there would be two third-party validations in place to offset Google.  People don’t seem to get the idea that even Google is proposing that “…the best way to think of metrics across different web analytics programs is to think in terms of trends.”  Especially when it comes to Google.  You get what you pay for … and you don’t pay for Google analytics.


 


Here is something else that we discussed.  If you synchronize your ad server and your site analytics you will get accurate – or actually identical counts.  For example, deploy a DirectServe™ Technology using First Party ad serving with a WebSideStory first party cookie and you will have a seamless pass through of data.  Impressions and clicks will go through to the site and the site will read the ad serving data – actually WWS will receive the data using the first party cookie – and the reporting will match up perfectly. 


 


Remember, DirectServe™ is a patent-pending capability of TruEffect and we are partnered with WebSideStory to implement this kind of solution so that was a plug.  But seriously if you want to put together the pieces this is how to do it.


 


The client also asked about bid optimization.  Hmm, another variable.  Love it.  Well WSS has Bid Opp and so that can easily be brought into the picture as well.  Using a first party cookie, the ad server can lay the cookie down on the user when they click on the keyword and associate the keyword and search engine with that user.  If that user is already carrying the cookie from the client, the ad server can add to the cookie the search variables that regenerated the visit.  Then the site analytics software can receive the data using the first party cookie.  Done.


 


Re-targeting is a wonderfully versatile capability.  My favorite part of the conversation was when he said, “oh…we’re already testing targeting with TACODA.”  Love it.  Obviously we discussed the event-based targeting aspects of TACODA and how it is based on anonymous occurrences.  He agreed that while the solution works well it is limited to their network and does not have the ability to leverage client data like what DirectServe™ has to offer – site agnostic, web-wide capacity that leverages client knowledge about customers for re-targeting.  He got it and agreed that we were talking about complimentary solutions … for now.


 


Anyway, back to Google.  I think it is key to understand that ad serving has all of its benefits from the perspective of campaign management.  And site analytics has all of its benefits from web site trafficking, modeling and analysis.  But what was at conflict here was ignorance of a client’s client.  If a client is going to use Google, they need to be educated as to why they are using and what they are using it for.  It’s kind of like using fuzzy glasses to read a book.  Or a better example is using your hand to feel your kid’s forehead to see if they have a fever.  It is a trending tool that gives you a relative indication, not an exact measurement. 


 


Google Analytics is great for the advertiser who wants to log in at 3am and see what’s happening.  I do that sometimes with my blog when I write a particularly contentious article – just to see if it’s triggered some reactions.  But my server logs are far more accurate than Google Analytics.  The counts are always 30%+ off.  Same with ad server reports and site analytics. 


 


Educate your client with the tools that are going to demonstrate real accuracy.  Use sales reports and revenue reports – post-click analysis – to demonstrate further discrepancies that translate into real value to the client.  It is possible to show the client where the diversion points in the direction of the ad server and site analytics favor.  Go the extra step and you will prevail.  If you have more than one client that will bring this up, prepare a document that you can use over and over again.  This problem is not going away soon.


 


Reactionary with Insight.

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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.

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3 Steps to Customized Landing Pages, and 3 More to Holistic Online Marketing Integration

3 Steps to Customized Landing Pages, and 3 More to Holistic Online Marketing Integration


 


So this was funny.  Very often I will go into iMediaConnection and read an article without paying attention to the author first.  I do this intentionally so that I don’t have a bias to the topic or position but rather allow myself to take the reactionary approach as objectively as possible.


 


Jamie Roche’s piece in today’s iMediaConnection, 3 Steps to Customized Landing Pages was a great example.  Jamie describes: “…how to customize your website pages so that even when making a keyword buy of thousands, you still maximize conversions.”  He does this by presenting a three-step process:


 


Step 1: Look at keyword groups by intention


Step 2: Break out landing pages types and create templates


Step 3: Test templates for general effectiveness


 


Jamie does a great job of presenting how to leverage landing pages to increase conversion potential following search marketing campaigns.  As I was reading his article, I was thinking to myself, what technologies would help to accomplish these tasks?  What can people use to manage their dynamic content-serving on landing pages, what tokens could be placed on browsers at the time of the search-term click-thru to associate the keyword group with a landing page topic?  What site-side analytics software could track and report the metrics to evidence the performance.  What cookie-related perspective would promote the ability to integrate with other forms of e-marketing media?


 


As I was reading, I was thinking about Offermatica.  Figures that would be the case, Offermatica is perfect for dynamic landing-page creation, content testing and doing just what Jamie was talking about.  So after I read the article, and went to see who the author was I start to laugh out loud because of course I know that Jamie Roche is the President of Offermatica!


 


So let’s talk about how the picture can be put together.


 


Offermatica is a great solution for doing everything Jamie describes – it’s actually an eloquent pitch and not too bias if you want to read the article.  But it really represents a piece of the bigger puzzle that we try to explore today.  Holistic online marketing aims to couple the outside advertising with the site-side advertising.  Offermatica is the site-side solution.  Once someone arrives at your site, Offermatica will help you put the right offer in front of the right person based on how you go them there.  Perfect! 


 


So how do you provide a solution like Offermatica with the information that they require to make the best decisions that they can?


 


The out-of-the-box solution (sort of) is to provide Offermatica with the selection criteria for testing various landing pages so that they can be rapid testing on-the-fly as your campaigns are running.  On a performance basis, you can improve acquisition rates by leveraging landing page selections over time.  But how do you hook-in the information so that you are producing the landing pages?


 


Jamie uses search campaigns as his example.  What is unclear is how to determine the landing page content.  Presumably it’s not on the fly.  He suggests creating buckets of search term groups and then creating landing pages that correlate to those groups, probably multiple pages for each group for A/B testing. 


 


But how about banner advertising.  Also possible.  The topic or creative group association of an ad can be passed through in the click-thru URL the same way and all of this can be accomplished as well.


 


Okay, next step…how do we leverage advancing technologies and push site-side content rendering to the next level. 


 


But what about dynamic pages that are reacting to the search campaign?


 


Why can’t we leverage knowledge about previously viewed ads and the search campaign to better select landing pages?  If the search term is captured in the click-thru URL and passed through to the advertiser, and knowledge about banner campaigns can be captured by cookies leveraged during the ad serving process, they should each be able to be incorporated into the rendering of a landing page.  Product selection and content placement can be that much more targeted, and accurate.  Not only can you line up the product placement based on the search term that a person used to get to the advertiser’s site, but you can also leverage knowledge about ads and offers that individual has seen with respect to products and offers.  Ads they may have reacted to in the past as well as ads that they have not reacted to.


 


Offermatica can be leveraged to read the cookie in the browser as they arrive to the advertiser’s web page and react to the information stored in their browser.  More valuable than the click-thru URL of the landing page, the cookie can instruct Offermatica on how to create the landing page too.  Simultaneously the cookie can also share information with the advertiser’s eCRM system and site-side analytics system.  We’ve been through this before.


 


First party cookies are obviously the way to go here.  So if you talk to Jamie and his team and suggest that he accept a first party cookie – say the advertiser’s cookie, or the Offermatica cookie, then he can leverage information in that cookie to make even better decisions for you.  Of course you can get in touch with me through Trueffect if you want me to better explain how TruEffect and Offermatica do this.  Anyway, the first party cookie can pass through information about the banner campaign, search campaign – oooh – even an email marketing campaign.  That’s right, holistic integration of the advertiser’s online marketing effort.


 


Landing pages can be rendered on the fly based on how someone became a lead as well as how they did not become a lead – what ads and search terms generated a response (whether they came through a banner or a search click) as well as what ads did not generate a response.


 


Now, when that person becomes a customer, registrant or other “known” member of your database, DirectServe™ can kick in.  Now that person can be segmented for future re-targeting through all of the same channels using that initial first party cookie. 


 


If the individual conducts a subsequent search, they will be identified upon the click-thru and the knowledge about that user will be passed through to Offermatic, who can render an appropriate landing page that is customer-specific.  Offermatica can further test landing pages that are designed for returning customers.  The eCRM system will capture recurring sales information about returning customers.  And the site-side analytics software – say WebSideStory – will capture the entire cycle as it goes around and around: from search term to sale and from banner ad to sale, over and over, in it’s reports.


 


Reactionary with Insight. 

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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, Advertising.com 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.

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In Search of the Magical Blend, Turn.com

Phil Leggiere interviewed Jim Barnett, CEO of Turn.com in an article posted in MediaPosts Behavioral Insider.  It caught my eye as it boasts itself as the next generation of behavioral targeting.  Actually what caught my eye most is the Jim is a fellow critic of the current ad networks targeting models.


 


Turn.com makes some powerful claims of elusive algorithms that offer far more targeted capabilities than other behavioral networks which make it capable of delivering ads to individuals on a wider range of parameters than just the simple single event or demographic or other anonymous segment profile.  I love the word algorithm.  It’s the new buzz word in our space.  It conveys a sense of complexity, technical innovation and secrecy all wrapped up into one elusive word.  In the end it simply means we do something with data that we’re not going to tell you about regardless of how simple or complex it may be and then we spit something out that results in something we deem to be our product or service!


 


Anyway, so turn is advancing behavioral targeting.  I am going to dig deeper into this one.  Maybe Jim will talk with me about this technology and help me understand how it advances our space.  I would love to get an understanding of how the customer profiling capabilities exist.  When you read the article he said: “the network will recognize the user based on profiles advertisers have provided about what type of users and what type of results they’re looking for.”  So if that is accurate, that would imply that an advertiser can share customer profiles data and then Turn can use those profiles to recognize individuals.  Other behavioral targeting networks and ad servers (Boomerang for example) can do this provided that the advertiser wants to go through the process of having the third party assign a cookie to the customer segments as the customers interact with the advertiser’s site.  For example, when a customer conducts an event – i.e., buys something, the advertiser can route that customer to a specific page that correlates to a segment property and then the third party vendor can cookie that user to associate the user with a new segment.  Then the third party can target that user as a member of a segment.  But those events have to have occurred and that advertiser has to be willing to setup those specific pathways on their site and be willing to behold a third party responsible for maintaining the cookie properties of their customer segments.  A lot of “ifs.”  Maybe Jim over at Turn has another way.  Or maybe I am giving him more targeting credit than it all deserves.


 


From this perspective I am all ears on looking for what would advance the event-based targeting technologies.  Obviously I am an advocate of the customer re-targeting technology that DirectServe unique offers the market through its patent-pending technology, but that is only one side of the coin.  Prospect generation still has to rely on behavioral targeting.  The TACODA, Advertising.com, Datomi’s and other network models of the world have their place in the industry and when it comes to driving new users forth new behavioral targeting technologies that advance the ability to identify and target suitable prospects is worthy of investigation.  Turn may be it.  TACODA has been dominating.  Revenue Science has been a player, but recent news shows they are losing marquee clients to TACODA.  For example the recent Dow Jones steal.  Dave Morgan talks about how the industry has plenty of room for more networks.  But I believe that there has to be differentiation or else the tipping point will come fast and consolidation will follow in the space.  Obviously Turn is looking to come forth with something different.  Time will tell if they have it.  Customer reaction will be the proof.


 


Reactionary with Insight

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Apply Direct Mail Knowledge to Online, and Then Do it


Dave Wilson, president of Wilson Relationship Marketing Services wrote in iMediaconnection today bout extending offline direct mail practices to the online world.  His incite about the established world of customer segmentation and modeling in the offline world stimulates the mind about the possibilities online but then he only scratches the surface with regard to what’s out there.


 


Dave says that unlike offline, “…in the online world marketing activities are geared towards “pulling” prospects from an audience of identified potential customers. To understand and identify the right targets, marketers need to know the key attributes of prospects and customers online just like in the offline world. As a result, customer segmentation becomes imperative online, whether the media channel is search engine marketing (SEM), banner ads on portals or email campaigns.”


 


So media selection is a key component of segmentation.  That is common practice today.  Vertical sites, networks and search are all widely accepted.  Dave talks about subject-matter verticals like news or entertainment-rich content sites being capable of delivering a specific demographic while specific networks may be capable of delivering another demographic type.  Search engines can deliver keyword targets and some even go so far as provide vertical search on a site-by-site basis.  LookSmart is a vertical search engine provider for example.  This is all good when you are looking to drive traffic which, of course, is a huge component of online advertising.  But with online marketing – like offline direct marketing – there is more.


 


The web is the newest greatest one-to-one communication mechanism of our time right?  The greatest thing since the TV, only now you can communicate and not just broadcast.  So segmenting an audience is about generating a response.  Segmenting prospects is about generating customers.  Segmenting customers is about driving repeat business.  Direct marketing covers both.  Not just one.  When we examine the direct to consumer communication capabilities of online marketing we have to go beyond the geo-targeting, day-part targeting and demographic preferences of a site, search engine or email list.  We have to also look at behavioral targeting.  We have to look at psychographic segmentation.  We have to look at cross-channel customer knowledge and segmentation data.


 


Okay-okay.  Where is the lunatic going?  First of all behavioral targeting.  My good friends at TACODA and Advertising.com offer healthy targeting capabilities based on event-based behaviors.  Pixel your advertisers’ sites and you can target users across their networks based on people who have been on your site in the past.  Or, can you do it better?  Yup – but that way works well if you are targeting their network.  You can use an ad server to pixel your web pages and target users web-wide, including users across a network who have conducted specific events on your advertisers’ sites.  So if they have seen a product page in the past and then you encounter them on the web, you can target them with specific ads.  Better prospecting.  The network model works great is you are primarily advertising on the network.  The ad server model works better if you are casting a wider net across the internet.  Check out DoubleClick’s Boomerang or TruEffect’s DirectServe for basic behavioral target prospecting.


 


Now, direct marketing is also about going after existing customers too.  Catalogers don’t just go after prospects, they hit the hell out of existing shoppers.  And so should you.  Creating customer segments of your online customers is vital.  Remember I said cross-channel segmentation?  If your business has an offline component and an online component like – say Target or LL Bean – then you should be marrying your offline and online data.  The deeper your customer database the more you can segment your customers for online direct marketing.


 


Online direct marketing should be conducted in two places simultaneously, site-side and web-wide.  Site-side is customer targeting while they are on your web site.  Using first-party cookies in conjunction with user logins is paramount.  Know your customers and leverage that information to guide them through to buy-buy-buy.  Okay, maybe not that aggressive, but your content management system should be geared towards displaying optimized products based on the segment membership buckets you have placed them.  Categorized behavior and predictive modeling should enable you to increase the likelihood to buy and to increase the amount per purchase per visit.  Once someone logs-on you can access their account and user personally identifiable information.  Prior to logging on you can use first party cookies and anonymous profile data.  Both are very powerful.


 


And here it is, my little plug.  Web-wide direct marketing to existing customers may be accomplished through customer re-targeting through your online advertising campaigns.  If you are advertising online, and you frequently advertise on the same sites because you perform well on those publisher sites you have to know that your customers frequent those sites too.  That means that you are paying to re-prospect your existing customers.  What % of your advertising audience is comprised of existing audience.  How many impressions are you wasting on people who already shop with you?  Would your dollars be better utilized direct marketing to existing customers on those sites while you simultaneously prospect-message to non-customers?  Then read anyone of my many posts that talk about DirectServe and first party ad serving.  Because that technology will tie it altogether for you.


 


One last tid-bit.  TruEffect offers something called TruTags™.  Neat little patent-protected item they threw out for 2007.  It is a site tag that you put on advertiser web pages that will simultaneously fire other tags.  So you only need to tag your advertiser’s web pages one time and you can add as many other tags as you need to the TruTag™ repository.  Its really nice for those advertisers who are difficult when it comes time to adding tags to their web pages for additional tracking mechanisms.  You simply TruTag™ their site and then as an agency you control the addition of extra tracking tags.  So you can use behavioral targeting of other providers and things like that without having to re-tag.  Nice.


 


Reactionary with Insight.

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The First Party Ad Serving Rabbit Hole

Many customers who first begin to investigate DirectServe technology and the value proposition of customer re-targeting get that “wow” moment in their eyes when I speak with them.  People who read this blog contact me to learn more about the fundamental differences between traditional event-based behavioral targeting and customer-centric re-marketing.  When they get the premise of recognizing someone you know online through an ad campaign, gaining the capability to distinguish them based on a set of parameters that you set so that you can message to them uniquely, the “wow” expression rears its pretty face.


 


The value proposition conversation is what follows.


 



  1. No longer prospecting existing customers.  With first party ad serving, customers and prospects are distinguished so that you don’t prospect your existing customers but rather cross-promote products and up-sell to them, increasing recurring revenue opportunities

 



  1. Insight into Advertising Audience composition. For the first time, DirectServe enables an advertiser to measure the composition of their advertising audience – what % of the audience reach is comprised of existing customers and what % is comprised of prospects.  Being able to identify when it is time to move on from a site if prospecting is the primary objective becomes easy to quantify with first party ad serving.  Determining that a specific site is ripe for re-targeting is easy to determine as well if you find that the audience is largely comprised of your repeat-visiting customers.

 



  1. Target customer segment profiles that you set.  With first party ad serving, the cookie’s targeted by the ad server are set by the advertiser and are correlated to the advertiser’s customer segmentation model.  As that model grows, expands or evolves so too does the targeting reach of the ad server.  The ad serve does not need to even know the meaning of the cookie value, only what creative group to associate with a particular cookie value.  The advertiser maintains complete control over their messaging strategy.  With third party implementations of behavioral targeting – like the one referenced in Tom Hepos’ recent iMediaConnection article – the third party ad server would be keenly aware of the value and meaning of the cookie targets which exposes customer knowledge to a third party.  This can open Sarbanes Oxley doors or other privacy issues.

 



  1. Write ad serving data to your cookie that is relevant to your site.  With first party ad serving the ad server can write to your first party cookie values that reflect banners and site sequences that reflect that acquisition marketing campaign that ultimately produced the visit.  This data can be integrated with site-side analytics software or CRM solutions to create an entirely new class of customer profile data.

 


Now back to the rabbit hole.  I’ve talked about the 80/20 rule.  With DirectServe its more like 90/10.  Most of our clients engage DirectServe for re-targeting.  They write cookies reflecting customer segment values and we target those values with unique banners intended to reach those customer segment groups.  These clients are most frequently represented by ad agencies who do not look to expand the DirectServe capability into the data realm, and who don’t need to.  The benefits of DirectServe re-targeting are huge and so that is why we focus so heavily on it with out GTM.


 


The rabbit hole for DirectServe has to do with both Re-Targeting and the rest of DirectServe, what we can Analytcs.  From here on out I will just talk about the Re-targeting.


 


When you look at a traditional online ad campaign, you buy media across X number of sites with Y number of banner sizes to create Z number of placements represented by banner size and site-sitesection combinations.  With me?  10 sites with 2 different sizes demands a minimum of 2 creative.  But to optimize a campaign you will likely have three creative in rotation, so that’s 6 creative total to start. 


 


With DirectServe you will be targeting customer segments in addition to prospecting.  So the campaign plan described above is appended by the following:


 


If there are 3 customer segments (High Value Shopper, Low Value Shopper, Has not shopped in 6 mos), than there is the need to create 3 messages to each of these groups as well just like with the prospecting campaign so that you can optimize the campaign.  So that is 3 creative x 3 segments = 9 creative.  Add that to the prospecting campaign and you are up to 15 creative for just the two sizes that you will be running on the 10 sites that you have bought advertising on.


 


In summary:


 


Prospect Campaign:


·          Messaging – 3 creative


·          2 creative sizes


·          6 creative total


Re-Targeting Campaign:


·          Messaging – 3 messages x 3 groups = 9


·          2 creative sizes


·          18 creative total


Campaign Total:


·          12 unique messages


·          24 unique creative


·          (10 sites, 2 sizes=20 spots) = 240 placements


 


In the end, DirectServe introduces a great opportunity to dissect your audience up so that you can message exclusively to different customer segments and drive home specific results.  But the planning and creative requirements need to be kept in check too.  Out clients start off small on the level of something like the example described about just to begin to experience impact – results that are impressive and significant.  Then they begin to determine and test whether multiple customer segments is where they want to diversify or creative messaging or a combination of both.  The budget drain on message planning and creative is the variable that requires management with DirectServe.  But we have clients that are seeing 15-20% improvement in recurring revenue opportunities and that more than justifies the cost of additional creative!

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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, Cars.com, 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 Cars.com.  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.

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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 Advertising.com.  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, Advertising.com 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.

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