Unlock the power of location data (part II – sample case study)


In August of this year, LocationInsight rebranded as Placeable to strategically align the mission of the company with driving enterprise advertisers to become placeable. Following suit, we have released several case studies that demonstrate the results that enterprise advertisers have experienced after becoming placeable.

A national consumer insurance company client had a huge problem with citation conflict and low search engine confidence. They were experiencing poor ranking for all of their locations. Continue reading

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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“What If We Don’t Get Digital Advertising to Scale”: Eric Picard Thinks That It is Time to Grow Up and Run Agencies Efficiently

A-ha!  A call to action that makes me scream hallelujah!  Eric Picard is the director of advertising strategy and emerging media planning at Microsoft Digital Advertising Solutions and wrote “What If We Don’t Get Digital Advertising to Scale? in ClickZ this mering.


Eric is reiterating the same set of complaints that he issued in a 2005 article.  Technology is not being properly leveraged to automate the management of online advertising so that we can be efficient!  “Digital advertising, both on the Internet and in traditional media, isn’t scaling. The buy and sell sides (advertisers and publishers) have neglected to get their platforms right in the advertising industry,” Eric Says. 


And is he right. 


Publisher tools do not effectively enable sellers of media to know what they have to sell and so they are leaving revenue on the table.  Inventory management is antiquated.  Sellers don’t know what is available to sell with respect to what other agents have reserved on their team.  Multiple proposals can’t properly reserve space with supervisory control over allocation the holding of available inventory.  Many of the major publishers are dissatisfied with their current vendors – i.e., everyone knows that AOL has never been happy with the DoubleClick relationship since its inception.


Advertiser tools fall short on many, many levels.  I have 20-30 postings on this blog alone that talk about inefficient workflow, the manual tasks of an ad server, the lack of integration with accounting tools, the single-entry steps of creating placements, the incongruence of ad server workflow and agency workflow, the monotony of a trafficker’s job and so on.


Managing online advertising is a rabbit hole that you pour money into if you are an agency.  The reason for this, online advertising has no infrastructure at most agencies.  It was never developed on a foundation upon which it could grow properly.


“There should be no reason for the vast number of agency or publisher staffers required to handle ad operations. There should be significantly more process automation and many fewer bodies to get the job done.”  Eric argues that out-sourced companies like “…Operative and Ad Operations Interactive exist because ad platforms don’t automate everything they can.”


In Maximize your Ad Traffickers’ Value, Re-Evaluate Their Time I argue that “…online advertising operations are comprised of band-aided techniques that have been slapped together over time, never organized or operationalized into an efficient set of procedures that maximize time and resources.”  In that article I present a product that automates the entire media planning, RFP, I/O, creative management, placement scheduling and reporting process.  It’s a self-promoting discussion I know.  TruAdvertiser.xls is a vendor solution that works.  It’s also built on Microsoft Excel which Eric Picard should like!  Maybe that article should have been called “Maximize Your Ad Traffickers Value with a Workflow Tool That Automates Their Job!


Anyway, while Eric’s sky is falling position is important.  The fact that he doesn’t even know about a Certified Microsoft Partner like TruEffect, that has a qualified solution to his stated issue is my problem.  But the problem itself is bigger than that.


Ad agencies are not addressing their problems of inefficient operations.  They are pushing the problem under the rug.  Well not quite.  They are outsourcing it and “…throwing bodies at the problem, [and having clients] …pay the bills,” as Eric put it.  That is not good business. 


Ad agencies should turn around and look at how they conduct their business and manage it better. 


Or maybe it is the client who should take the long hard look.  Maybe the client needs to stop and take the time to examine how their agency conducts itself.  Maybe if clients asked questions about how their agencies managed themselves, and their businesses, it would force the agency to look within and take action. 


Imagine if a mega-advertise took an audit of its agency’s operation?


If I have a $5M budget (small I know) I would want as much of that to go to media and the rest to go to my agencies profit so that they are rewarded.  I would want us both to win.  I would want to know that I am working with a smart partner.  If they manage their business well then I can have confidence that they will manage my business well.  If they take 15% of my budget for their fee and then pile on additional fees for outsourcing services, which they should be capable of handling, I would consider an agency with more competent capabilities.  I would expect an agency that can manage my business holistically, and efficiently.  This is not 2000, its 2007.  It’s time to grow up and run our businesses like it.  Online advertising is no longer new.


Reactionary with Insight.

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Becoming an Ad-Server Power User

Great stuff Tom Hespos.  Become an Ad-Serving Power User does a great job in iMediaConnection today of painting an accurate picture of how few agencies take full advantage of their ad serving technologies.

Tom focused on the training aspects of using your ad server.  “All it takes is a minimal investment of time and perhaps some cash. Even if your ad management contract calls for some nominal fee for planners to attend advanced training sessions, the expense in time and money is well worth it.”

Check out How to Pick an Ad Server – Part V: Training.  In this post I talked about finding out training within a ‘sandbox’ verses training on your actual campaigns a data.  There is something inherently more interesting about something that is relevant.  When going through training, such as a Webex.  It is hard to sit through imaginary data and think about how you will have to go back and do everything you are watching all over again on your own.  Elementary training is one thing.  But advanced training is something else.  If you are going to sit through training – especially is you are going to get charged for training – you should be getting more out of it than just knowledge.  You should be getting accomplishment.

“When you get trained, ask to get trained with a campaign that you need to get setup so that you kill two birds with one stone.”  This was a big point that I was making in the post I referenced above.  The “How to Pick and Ad Server…” series of posts that this comes from looks at ad server selection from a number of angles: (1) Evaluating the Interface, (2) Rich Media, Targeting and Optimization, (3) Price, (4) Training, and (5) Customer Service and Support. 

Your training experience should offer you the opportunity to include the setting up of actual campaigns.  The relevant experience will stick with you while simultaneously accomplish something for you.  You can go farther in terms of applying more aspects of the technology when you are doing so with real-world clients.  Even if there are features that you would not be using with a client, you can set them up in training and then turn them off afterward.  The experience of training with a real client will stick with you.

Furthermore, if you are training on an actual campaign, it has to be done differently then in a presentation format.  Webex is a great tool as it can go both ways.  For example, a presenter can show you how to do something with a sandbox environment and then give you control and have you do it with one of your campaigns while they watch.  We do that with our clients, pass control of Webex back and forth.  That way we can see what clients are doing and guide them through the process.  Learning by doing rather than learning by watching.  Teach a man or woman to fish right?

Reactionary with Insight

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Improve Your Stats, Don’t Over Analyze, Make Decisions and Execute

WOW!  Range Online Media’s President, Misty Locke’s article in iMedia Connection today is fantastic.  Think Like a Coach to Improve Your Stats – Bravo!  It’s a must read.  Rarely do you find someone who can lay it all out there in a way that an advertiser might actually understand.  I would say the only thing wrong is that Dawn Anafuso didn’t put it at the top of the home page on iMedia Connection or run it for two days so that it gets higher readership!


Misty talks about the integration of campaign mediums but she talks about the use of data and the cross channel analysis of a campaign to figure out how the impact of one channel may be affecting the response rate of another.  


Last year David Smith (www.mediasmith.com) challenged the industry to create a digital dashboard of all of his advertising channels so that he could easily see the performance of all of his campaigns.  I remember this article, not just because iMediaConnection ran it again in there string of reruns during the holidays, but because I called David and talked with him about his challenge and needs.


TruEffect built an ad server, TruAdvertiser.xls™ that functions entirely within Microsoft Excel.  A user manages planning, proposals, creative, scheduling, trafficking, optimization and reporting all from within Microsoft Excel.  <IMG src="/images/44768-40810/CreativeDialog.jpg”>  <IMG src="/images/44768-40810/CampaignReportView2___02.jpg”>
It is a thin-client application that connects over the web to the ad server infrastructure at TruEffect and allows an agency or advertiser complete access to all of the expected advanced features of an ad server right from their desktop.  As a Microsoft Office-integrated solution, all of the reporting data streams in XML right into pivot tables and graphs and charts that a user formats one time.  They build their reports and then simply refresh whenever they want the updated data, never having to reformat a report again.


What’s the point of this plug?


David and I talked about how we could use TruAdvertiser.xls as a platform for his multi-channel dashboard.  It is desktop-based and is highly flexible when it comes to reporting capabilities.  Our product roadmap at the time already included integration with search engines like Google, MSN and Yahoo so not only would he have the ad server reports but the Google and Overture reports too for cross-analysis.  Additionally we were working with accounting integration so that he would be able to have that benefit too.  Email marketing data could easily be ported in as could other XML-driven feeds.  But in the end it represented a lot of custom work and David was going down the path of building something on his own. 


Back to Misty’s fabulous article (I really liked it).  Misty inspires one to dive in with both feet and, well if not careful, eyes closed.  Cross-channel reporting comes in many different forms.  There is realistically no platform for seeing every channel in a consolidated format and no perfect way to measure the impact of print on email or walk-ins or direct mail on view-thrus (now there is two hops, a skip and a jump).  You can try but at some point you have to allow things to fall into separate buckets and make assumptions.


But what is possible is great consolidation of online data.  I have been talking about acquisition marketing data – banners, search and email – with site analytics and will talk about it more.  Behavioral targeting’s next generation of customer re-targeting with DirectServe or first party ad serving can fully integrate data that could never be captured before, like measuring the composition of an advertising audience.  Now you can know what % of your audience represents existing customers!


Make sure that your technology allows you to get three dimensional views into the performance of your campaigns.  Misty is encouraging you to get aggressive and be proactive.  Data builds knowledge and that knowledge will make your decision-making powerful.  Since my conversations with David, we have proven integration capabilities with a number of unique platforms and data sources.  Other companies are doing it too.  Find a way to pull together at least your interactive channels so that you can see how they come together. 


If you acquire someone through search and they land on a web page and register, make sure that your advertiser cookies that individual so that when you encounter them again you can re-target them as an existing customer through first party ad serving and message to them with relevance to their previous search behavior and customer preferences to maximize future response rates.  You can do this stuff! 


Behavioral targeting will get you better prospects.  Pull that data into a consolidated interface – use XML feeds and build a data repository if you have to or call me and I will point you in the right direction.


Your email marketing will spew out ton’s of response rate data that can be easily ported into a consolidated interface.


I already covered search.


And ad serving data is clear.


Get a consolidated view as to how you acquire people, and then make sure that you are tagging them – or that your clients are tagging them – so that you can continue to target them as customers on an ongoing basis.  The worst thing you can do is to waste money re-prospecting and not getting credit for someone who you drove in twice.  If an existing customer clicks on a banner and comes to a site, you will not be getting credit for that customer’s return.  You could if you were re-targeting.  And if they click on a search term and land on the customer’s web page, you could be site-based targeting using first-party ad serving to re-target and product-promote based on preference and known behavior.


Get the data, consolidate it and then make decisions.  But most of all, deploy technologies that will enable you to effectively use the data to become strategic in your decision making and execution.  The end-game purpose is campaign improvement.  My focus is to show that the technology is there to do it.

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5 Signs its Time to Fire Your Ad Network – But First Push Them To Work for You

When Melissa Gluck Published her November 20th article 5 Signs its Time to Fire Your Ad Network in iMediaConnection, I was sure we would hear about some of the recent big block debacles like when a major advertiser’s ads, which were run across TACODA’s network, showed up on YouTube in association with racey content.  This scenario resulted in the major advertiser having their high quality ads displayed in conjunction with tasteless consumer generated media.  Not to say that everything on YouTube is tasteless, because it isn’t.  But these instances were associated with racy content and TACODA apparently did not exercise any controls when running their clients’ ads across the YouTube network when they first introduced YouTube into the TACODA network.  The point is that when running on a network, an advertiser does not always have control over where their messages will appear.  In this instance the advertiser found out after the fact and, of course, the ad was later pulled.


Revenue doesn’t correlate


Melissa begins to introduce the idea of revenue based on performance factors like CPA, CPA, lead-gen and post-click results.  In an earlier post, Make Your Media Buy More Effective – But How? I discussed Brad Bender’s iMediaConnection article on Make Your Media Buy More Effective in which he presents the idea of sharing your media goals with a site or network.  Perhaps what Melissa is missing is the concept of shoring up your goals.  If you can define a set of goals and then communicate to the network what your defined metrics of success are, then the network knows where they need to be to perform.  At least then if they don’t hit the mark, you have a baseline for discussion in terms of ‘firing them.’


International Traffic


When you conduct media buying on a network, treat it for what it is … secondary and tertiary inventory.  You are not buying on a site directly and therefore you need to exercise some strategy to acquire the better, of less-quality inventory.  The lower-dollar CPMs can be balanced with some targeting – GEO for one is a simple means to keep in domestic.  Insist on it.  Then use something simple like Google Analytics to track and confirm it.


Uneven Delivery


I think Melissa is making a good and obvious point.  Networks need to be closely monitored.  You are dealing with the redistributors here and therefore need to look over their shoulders.  When you require counter measures like GEO, frequency caps, Behavioral targeting, storyboarding, etc, check your CPMs.  You may be better off buying on sites directly where you get the better inventory.  Not all networks pay off.  Granted the top-tiers like Bluestreak, TribalFusion and 24/7 will perform for you, but there are plenty of lower-tier networks that are really meant for the CPC, CPA buys.


Lack of Transparency and Accountability


There is a very simply solution to this problem.  And it is one that seems to only be practiced by smaller more aggressive firms.  Negotiate your buys based off of your ad server’s numbers.  Make it your agency’s policy and stick with it.  You will get flack for it but plenty of agencies get away with it all of the time.  Networks will require testing of the ad server but it happens all of the time.  For example, Burst network insisted on testing TruEffect because an agency insisted on paying off our numbers.  They said that DoubleClick was within 6% of their numbers and that the average was less than 10%.  At the end of the test, TruEffect deviated by 1.79%.  Now that agency pays Burst all of its bills off of TruEffect’s numbers.  Give that a shot.


Improper Click Attribution


This is tougher, but also possible to overcome.  An ad server can assign a unique tag to each network and site that displays an ad or has a click-tag.  This will allow for a unique identifier for the subsequent cookie which will track back to the lead.


If the advertiser user DirectServe, first party ad serving from TruEffect, then each time a banner is served the site and banner serve can be written into the cookie in sequential order and then, when the unique user arrives on the home page by direct means as a view-through (i.e. they come through the home page on their own) they can be attributed back to the last banner they saw on the last site they visited)  The last site responsible for touching the user is the one that will get credit for the lead using DirectServe.


You see Melissa’s article did a great job for setting up five evaluative criteria for determining when a network should be fired.  But what needs to be taken into consideration is why people are using networks.  Networks should be aggressively managed not held to a test and left out to dry or fired.  They need to be told how to perform and most of them will – especially if you budget warrants response. 


Agencies and advertiser generally use networks for two reasons.  (1) to get direct response results (CPC, CPA leads) under which case they are less concerned with inventory quality and more concerned with lead volume, or (2) low dollar high volume impressions advertising.  The former is not what Melissa was addressing.  The latter is what she was focusing.  When you look at those people you have to ask yourself why they are buying on a network. 


Bottom line it is a matter of efficiency and speed.  Network buys for impressions is budget-filler and not primary to the buy initiative.  It is not intended to be primary strategy of a media campaign.  At least it shouldn’t be.  Direct buys are where the thoughtful buyer will focus and networks are where the secondary effort will go to fill in the gaps. 


Melissa’s comments and the additional information provided to you in this post should be taken as a good way to plan, utilize and evaluate your network relationship in context.

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The Ideal Online Advertising Campaign, Direct Response with Behavioral Customer Re-Targeting. How to Get a Greater Share of Your Advertiser’s Budget

Okay, so it’s a mouthful.  But all of my previous posts which have distinguished customer re-targeting from behavioral targeting, redefined BT as event-based targeting and attempted to diffuse the FTC complaint have led to this.  I am going to describe the workflow that puts first party ad serving, customer re-targeting and direct response online advertising into practice.  Re-targeting generates recurring revenue, decreases the CPA of online advertising campaigns and demonstrates significant reasons for increasing the online advertising spend by allocating direct marketing budgets to re-targeting initiatives.


The first step happens outside the realm of the online advertising campaign.  It takes place before the planning or strategy sessions or even before the budget is set.  The first step is first-party cookie writing.  As I described in my last post, How Does Re-Targeting Work? an advertiser has to segment its existing audience and set cookies to distinguish users for the re-targeting process.  


This sounds complicated but most often it is already done.  A retailer like an LL Bean will have already done this.  It knows who its customers are and has modeled them out by various types.  Amazon.com has you pegged by preferences.  Yahoo has you cookied if you maintain your stock portfolio on their web site so that they can recognize you when you return.  Forget about Microsoft!  Your bank does it too.  Pretty much anyone that you interact with online, with whom you have identified yourself, sets a cookie to further classify you.  Classification helps a site recognize you when you return so you don’t have to login, they pre-populate the user field, they dynamically serve content to you that is more suitable to your preferences, they optimize your experience so that your time is not wasted.  Are being tracked?  Yes but it is not invasive.


But there are other reasons to set first party cookies as well.  If you are going through a multi-step registration or application process, a first-party cookie can be set at each stage to indicate how far you have gone in the process.  That way if you leave, and later return, you can be ear-marked and taken back to where you left off.


So the first-party cookie writing process has to be in effect and, depending on the universe to be targeted, the cookie must be propagated out on to the Internet so that it may be effectively recognized through the re-targeting campaign.  This is usually about a 30-day lead time on the ad campaign. 


The traditional media planning process has to be conducted.  Sites have to be selected, negotiated and buys need to be made.  That’s all good.


Then there is the strategic media planning portion.  Unlike with traditional online advertising – and/or Direct Response online advertising – it is no longer just about prospecting, branding, messaging and generating leads and opportunities.  Re-targeting introduces an order of magnitude of complexity to the planning process because you have to think about messaging to existing customers in addition to the traditional planning you do involving prospecting.


Think for a minute about a three-month campaign that involves 10 core sites.  You renew on each site each month because those sites consistently perform well.  Popular sites get repeat visits.  Therefore if a site consistently generates strong leads for you, your previously acquired leads are also returning to those sites.  But while you are continuing to advertise there you are paying to re-prospect your previously acquired leads at the same time.  A portion of your message is falling on deaf ears.  Existing customers, previously acquired leads that bailed on you and people that have seen all of your ads and have never responded continue to see your ads over time.  You pay to continue to re-prospect them.  What is the composition of that audience?  The longer you advertise there, the higher it gets.  Maybe its starts off at 5% but it grows and could become 25% or higher over a few short months.


So with re-targeting you now have the opportunity to say something to your previously acquired leads, your customers and any audience that you can identify. 


For the sake of an example, and as we usually do with most of our DirectServe clients at TruEffect when they first start working with re-targeting, let’s just say that you create three segment types of a known audience for re-targeting.


  1. Frequent shopper (weekly)
  2. Moderate shopper (monthly)
  3. One-time shopper


So in addition to the campaign planning that will take place for acquiring new leads, which may have a number of messaging strategies and associated creative, we now must also do the same for each of these three audiences.  Multiple messages and creative must be planned and tested for optimization throughout the campaign to maximize response.


When the campaign is finally setup there will be four simultaneous campaigns going on across the same set of inventory.  The three segment types listed above, plus the prospecting type for unknown users who are not already carrying the advertiser’s first party cookie.  If you decide to use behavioral targeting to pinpoint events to drive more specific prospects you may have additional campaigns as well.


What will you see when you execute on a campaign with re-targeting?


(1) Audience composition


First of all, and for the first time, you will be able to measure the percent of your advertising audience composition.  You will now know who of the people that you are showing banners to are existing customers and who are prospects.  Not only that, but you will know what kinds of customers they are.  Ads will be displayed according to the cookies that exist.  So cookie type #1 (Frequency Shopper) will see creative group #1 (Targeting Frequent Shoppers) and so on.  And your impression reports will tell you not only how many times each banner was played but based on banner plays, what percent of your advertising audience is comprised of each type of person.  Overall, what percent of your advertising audience is comprised of existing customers vs. non-customers across every web site and network that you advertise on will become clear. 


This is very compelling information as the longer you advertise, audience composition may become a factor that impacts your media buying decisions.


(2) Re-target vs. Non-Re-Target Click-thru Rate


You will be able to distinguish the click-thru rate results of each customer segment type as well as prospect types.  What you will find is that like with your traditional online advertising campaign, you will be able to optimize click-thrus over time.  You will also be able to do the same with your re-targeting.  At TruEffect, we have consistently found re-targeting tends to have an incrementally higher click-thru rate than prospecting response rates.  If you think about this, it is pretty logical.  You are messaging offers to existing customers to drive repeat business.  It is a lot easier to get an existing customer to come back and do something than it is to get a new customer.  So the click-thru rate comparison will be a strong indication of re-targeting success.


(3) Post-Click Results of Re-targeting vs. Non-Re-Target


Here is where things really matter.  If the direct response campaign has a post-click success metric that is about generating a sale or action, then revenue is the success metric and the CPA is calculated based on that amount.  Generating recurring revenue or generating new revenue hits the cash flow statement the same way.  But when you can take your online advertising campaign and convert a portion of it into a customer penetration campaign you will please a lot of people in the marketing department at the advertiser. 


Dollars spent re-prospecting a deaf audience will now go towards driving recurring opportunities, cross-promoting and up-selling products and bringing customers back to the transaction cycle.  The CPA for the online advertising campaign will drop significantly because the revenue attainment of the campaign will go up incrementally. 


Is it a lot of work?  It takes brain power to figure out what you are going to say to three different customer segment types.  It takes strategic thinking to come up with multiple messaging strategies to motivate customers to re-transact.  But marketers do this everyday.  Direct Marketing is a huge initiative.  And the internet is already a massive DM medium.  Re-targeting introduces DM to online advertising and offers the opportunity to expand campaign budgets exponentially.  Think about that as an agency.  If you can prove to an advertiser that you can drive recurring revenue, you can demonstrate that you should have a greater share of the direct marketing budget!



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Make Your Media Buy More Effective – But How?

Brad Bender published an article to in iMedia Connection entitled: “Make your Media Buy more Effective” that unfortunately gets a C+.  Brad starts off real strong as he is talking to advertisers about expecting more out of publishers for the dollars you spend, but he fails to give us the practical tools or insight to empower us to do that.

Brad talks about the fact that publishers have optimization capabilities – capabilities that should make our campaigns more effective.  Brad is the VP of Optimization Solutions at DoubleClick and yet he does not bother to share what those solutions are.  Presumably his role is associated with DART for Publishers (DFP) which is the ad serving platform that publishers use to manage the ad serving on their web sites. SO if anyone knows what a web site is capable of doing for advertisers, Brad should know it.

Brad talks to us about sharing the objectives of a campaign with publishers with the hope that the publishers will know how to better maximize the spend we make with them.  But unless our spend is significant how can we really expect that the publisher will put forth the effort.  Publishers work for themselves.  Their motivation is the bigger picture.  Sure they will optimize your campaign performance insomuch to assert that they can get your spend on the next campaign, but is that optimal?

I think that someone like Brad is in the unique position to share his insight with us about what a publisher is actually capable of doing.  Empower you as a buyer so that you can know what to ask for rather than telling you to share your needs with a publisher and see what they offer. 

The only take away that you can get from this article is that it is a sellers market and therefore if you can overcome that, you get power, and power will get you results.  So if smaller buyers band together to represent significant spend, they will get power in the buy – like a significant spender has.  Aggregators of spend.  Folks like
CPA Empire and Memolink work for direct response advertisers and buy in bulk to generate leads and acquisitions.  There are a lot of these bulk buyers out there.  Having stronger spend power is one way to force a publisher to pay attention to your campaign.  When Yahoo buys advertising; when AOL buys advertising; when American Express Buys advertising, publishers are responsive provided that the agencies that represent them know what they are asking for.

Buyer knowledge is key to a transaction.  A publisher is looking to secure your business, keep your business and then preserve high value inventory for the next client and repeat the process.  Optimization burns high value inventory and reduces revenue potential.  So don’t expect it to be volunteered.  You will have to know what you are asking for.

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Behavioral Marketing: In Focus – Targeting Success Stories and The Upcoming Holiday Season

Robert Moskowitz published an article today in iMediaConnection entitled: “Behavioral Marketing: In Focus – 5 Targeting Success Stories.”  Two of the stories have some relevance to a topic that I cover on this blog – equating behavioral targeting to event-based targeting and the opening the door to what behavioral targeting can mean when we consider customer re-targeting.

The first story I would like to talk about is Ecommerce – Sequencing Ads.  In this piece he describes your basic storyboarding of banner rotations with a twist.  The first time someone sees a banner, they see a full price ad.  If they click on that banner and visit the site they get cookied and are considered having experienced an ‘event’ (my definition not Robert’s).  Subsequently if that individual is encountered on the Web again through an ad campaign, s/he is shown a discounted ad upon being recognized as being someone that has been through the event.

So it is a spin on storyboarding insomuch that storyboarding deals with prospect-targeting and rotating ads in sequence without the event of having visited the advertiser’s web page(s).  But this pretty basic event-based targeting example is hardly what I would characterize as behavioral targeting.  We know next to nothing about this user other then the fact that they once clicked on an ad and visited the advertiser’s web page.  They could be a customer already, they could be a prospect.  Who knows.

Like other examples of what people consider “behavioral targeting,” all we have here is someone that has seen a web page before.  Had this person registered, logged on or somehow identified themselves through some incentive, and then left, and we later recognized them through an ad campaign, then we could consider it behavioral targeting.  We would know something about them and could target them based on some behavior or customer segment model.

The statistical results cited in this article were impressive, re-messaged leads represented 25% of the traffic and 50% of the revenue.  But only 7% of the banner impressions served were re-targets.  That means that only 7% of the audience composition was the same audience.  So all of the effort made in capturing people from the event, cookieing them and then getting setup for the re-target reached that audience 7% of the time.  This means that the media buy was not effective in getting to where the audience repeat-visits.  A lot of wasted effort.

When we work with people on customer re-targeting, we help them recognize that when there are sites – more so than networks – that consistently perform well month over month, there is a high likelihood that those sites are visited repeatedly by existing customers as well.  DirectServe campaigns can potentially find audience compositions of pre-existing customers to be as high as 25% or more when implemented.  So when you execute a campaign designed to capture people who have been through an event before, you should be media buying where they will repeat-visit.  Networks are a hard place to do that due to shear size and broadness of the networks composition.  Whereas sites that consistently perform well will likely be sites that are also visited repeatedly by your customers in addition to prospects to it is a win-win for customer acquisition and re-acquisition.

Customer re-targeting is a lot closer to behavioral targeting than event-based targeting is.  But I dare not confuse you by changing the definition for fear of getting lopped in with what is a failure-to-meet-expectation offering.  Customer re-targeting can be customer, registrant or applicant re-targeting.  It is the re-targeting of any known individual.  So if someone clicks on an ad, visits a site and identifies themselves, you can re-target them later based on information you now know about them.  How?  You build user segment groups for your targeting.

The second Story of Roberts that I think is relevant is Seasonal Retailers – Extra Incentives.  This example comes very close to what I am talking about, only it is confined to the 24/7 network.  Again it is event-based as it tags users who have been to a flower shop web site, makes the assumptions that they have shopped and then later targets them with ads following the assumption that they were previous customers.

Had this been true customer re-targeting rather than event-based targeting, the flower shop would have already tagged its customers with cookies at the time of the initial transaction.  Then when it came time to serve ads, they could recognize its existing customers – segmented based on a model of customer profiles – and message to its audience accordingly.  Instead of assuming someone is a customer, you could know they are a customer.  Furthermore, if the individual does not carry the cookie tag, meaning they are not a customer (or they deleted the cookie), then you can easily distinguish them and message to them as a prospect!

How does all of this become relevant to the holiday season?

Now is the time that people will be getting ready to shop online in droves.  A storm is coming to the e-tailers and they are scrambling to get ready.  If e-tailers can create a customer segmentation scheme now – such as a 5 or 10-point schema that describes customer preferences – and cookie customers as they shop between November 1st and December 1st, they could use those cookies for re-targeting online through their online ad campaigns from December 1st through December 24th.  Furthermore, all of the cookies that get written during the holiday season that segment customers for each e-tailer could be leveraged by the online ad campaigns for these advertisers throughout the rest of the year. 

Sounds simple doesn’t it?  It really is.  An ad server targets cookies.  If the cookies are written to reflect a customer segment target then they can be recognized and targeted.  If the advertiser writes the cookies and the ad server can read the cookies, then BOOM you have the integration of online ad serving and online marketing.  That is DirectServe.

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