Accepting the BIAKelsey GOLOCAL Award

go-local-logo-agendaThis past week, at The BIAKelsey Leading in Local conference in Atlanta, Kelsey distributed its new GOLOCAL awards in three categories – Sales/ Revenue, Innovation and Strategic use of digital marketing.  Nearly forty entrants were considered for these three categories and three finalists in each category were brought to Atlanta for the announcement of the winners.

Placeable was a finalist in the Strategic use of digital marketing for the successful partnership with AAA CarolinasHeather Mcbrien of AAA Carolinas and I represented the team and I presented an overview of what we had accomplished together to the audience, which included empowering AAA Carolinas to emerge as a fierce competitor in their local markets across all three of their primary business units (car care, travel and insurance).  These results included:

  • Indexing some 1200 authoritative local landing pages for 230 locations
  • Generating 800% increase in organic traffic
  • Producing 35K new visitors per month
  • 25% conversion rate on all unique visits to phone calls, registrations and appointments

Included in Heather’s description of some of the softer benefits that have been generated by our campaigns together was that of the decrease in the number of tire kickers that have been generated.  Specifically, Heather described that the quality of leads generated are now far more qualified and in active transaction mode as opposed to window-shopping. Continue reading

Local Retailers Win When They Optimize for Local Search

modifiedA related article entitled “Local Search Marketing, Accuracy Trumps Distribution” may be viewed on

Retail success has long been largely dependent on physical location. Selecting commercial space requires consideration of many factors including demographics, socio-economics, competitive proximity, traffic patterns and more.  Multi-location retailers apply a great deal of strategy when opening a store.  Mall retailers will swap locations when premium space becomes available so that they are more visible to consumers passing by.

Today, however, location means more than capturing the passer-by.  Location also means being found by the digital searcher.  70% of consumers research local products and services on a desktop and then use their mobile device to get where they want to go.  A consumer that has decided to visit your store is in buy-mode.  Will they find you?  Did you take steps to ensure that a consumer would know that you changed locations in the mall?  Will your store be located where the “X” marked the spot?  Is the premium location really premium if a consumer shows up at the doorstep of another business instead of yours?  How much revenue will you miss out on?

Continue reading

Unlock the power of location data (part IV – 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.

The third case study example is a global financial transaction company with an inadequate conversion rate of online to offline customers at the location. With more than a half-million locations, this was a significant problem. Continue reading

David Smith and The Medium is the Metric for Online Ads

Fantastic!  When David Smith steps up and writes an article, people should listen.  If you have the opportunity to attend a venue where he is speaking, you should make it your business to sit in on his session.


Earlier I posted an entry about when to blog and when to publish.  David should always, always publish.  He is not about self-promotion but rather call-to-action.  Although he never admits it, MediaSmith strives to meet or exceed all the demands that he places on us as agencies, advertisers and vendors servicing the industry.


In today’s iMediaConnection, David wrote “The Medium is the Metric for Online Adsand he pulled out all the stops. 


He gave us illustrations for why digital research is taking a quantum leap with Quantcast.  Dwarfing what ComScore and NetRatings have to offer, Quantcast provides insight into millions of websites.  Forget @Plan which is a front to DoubleClick’s publisher database.  Quantcast is considered to be the next, new and potentially most accurate source of secondary publishers in the industry.  Ad servers should be integrating with them, and agencies should be taking a long hard look at providing access to it for their media planners.  Currently, they measure 20 million web sites and growing exponentially.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting that you abandon Comscore, not yet.  Soon they will not just be about the secondary web sites, but the primaries too.  Their model is primary about getting publishers to post tags on their sites so they get tracked, but if they continue to get traction that won’t be an issue.  Watch these guys.  I am. 


David also brings up Blackfoot several times.  David has been working with Martin Wesley and the team at Blackfoot for a couple of years.  I have known Blackfoot and have watched them grow-up from a one-room office to the organization that they are today.  Blackfoot offers cutting-edge analytics software and people like David Smith have been experimenting with it from the days when it was based entirely on processes.  While still involving teams of analysts, Blackfoot’s Analytix is a composite compilation of disparate sources of data.  Accomplished through a team of manual processes, this service model produces analysis capabilities that rival the comprehension capacity of the top-5% intellect in the industry.  Dumb-it-down and you still have huge insight into the holistic marketing initiatives for an advertiser.  A lot of data for making decisions.


The call for dashboard views has been David’s MO since I first met him last year.  As I mentioned in my January 10th, 2007 post, Improve Your Stats, Don’t Over Analyze, Make Decisions and Execute I have not been in contact with David in quite some time.  But when we last spoke, it was about his search for a holistic digital dashboard that provided a top-down view over every aspect of an advertiser’s campaign.  David has a vision for how an agency should be managed, and if you are a client I sincerely believe that you will benefit from his desire to control every aspect of the campaign – if not personally then as an agency.  A need to see how each medium correlates together into a series of results helps David determine the interaction between them.  And he is confident that those relationships can be seen and subsequently decisions can be made that will be affected by that insight.


In this article, David glosses over the utilization of site-side analytics, Coremetrics, WebSideStory, WebTrends and Omniture.  I think this is where the insight falls short.  Perhaps David is unaware of what we’re doing with first party integrations of first party ad serving and first party site-side analytics.  Other ad servers are conducting cookie synchronizations.  DoubleClick and Omniture for example is the best example that I can think of.  It’s historical and laborious.  A DoubleClick ad serving cookie and the data associated with the acquisition marketing campaign can be synchronized with the site side analytics third party cookie in the rears.  Real-time decision-making is not achieved but insight into navigation patterns, entry points that extend to the advertising campaign and placement to eCommerce patterns are measurable.


TruEffect’s patent-pending DirectServe™ offers first party cookie synchronization with the WebSideStory first party cookie.  So in fact it is real-time and is a direct pass through, and not a synchronization at all.  Poor choice of words on my part.  It is an integration of commonly-threaded technologies.  The ad serving knowledge flows through to the site side analytics engine.  Both use the clients first party cookie and so decisions are made in real-time.  Reactionary. 


So listen up David, this aspect of your challenge to the industry has already met.  And we’re working with the other companies mentioned to complete the offering across the industry.


Funny, a year ago David wrote an article entitled “Where’s My Dashboard? and I contacted him to introduce him to TruAdvertiser.xls™ the holistic ad server built within Microsoft Excel.  It integratable with accounting platforms and pulls in disparate sources of data.  We didn’t move forward together but it was a great series of conversations.  Maybe it is time for us to chat again and introduce the topic of DirectServe™.  I think that we’re doing things that he is unaware of.  Hey David, give me a call.


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 ( 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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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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Banners vs Search

Here’s a big one for you, which one is bigger, better and generates a better ROI.  Don’t answer it too quickly and don’t jump to the first conclusion that crosses your mind because the answer is more complicated than you think.

Search advertising has certainly come into its hey-day.  Get the terms right, optimize right and bring all of the stars into alignment and you are generating the responses right-on.  The fees are there and they mount higher and higher as the campaign ensues but the performance is there.  But what is the ROI and how does it fair?  Agencies look at this differently than advertisers as they usually do.  The net CPA has a ceiling for an Agency whereas it has a floor for an advertiser.  Not exceeding the ceiling vs. driving it to the floor.  With search the more you do it, the more likely the costs rise.  Whether it is because Google and Yahoo incrementally raise the stakes or its because greed pushes you to add terms and drive increasing yield.  The net result is the CPA creeps and the ROI drops.

Now what about banner advertising?  We’ve discussed banner advertising before, some would say we’ve been discussing it a fair amount.  I am a fan of it and believe that it has its rightful place in the mix.  I also believe that banner advertising is not getting the continued attention it deserves, does not get managed properly, get optimized or has the application of available technologies to further drive yield and ROI up and costs down.

Advertisers and agencies can push banner advertising to better perform by strategically managing campaigns and optimizing actively.  See my post: Site Optimization and Ad Serving.  If done right, a campaign can improve exponentially over time with rapid improvement in performance.  I have mentioned that I have watched clients drive Click-thru rates by 50% or more over a two-month period, increase revenue by 25% or more all while decreasing their spend by 15%.  How do they do this?  They simply drop low-performing sites and stick with what works all while rotating in new creative and bumping up placements that work – active optimization.

Optimization with Search means increased cost.  Terms that work well mean that you raise your maximum bid and your CPA goes up.  It is the opposite to display advertising.  So banners vs. search introduce a very interesting paradigm.  To do better in search you have to pay more.  To do better in banner advertising you can pay less!

I have also talked about re-targeting with banner advertising.  Recognition, distinguishment and messaging to distinct audiences in real-time.  Not event-based targeting like Boomerang, Tacoda and  DirectServe Technology like TruEffect.  This is customer database targeting through ad serving and drives recurring revenue opportunities through ad campaigns.  In comparison to search, re-targeting can drive recurring opportunities by as much as an additional 15-20%, effectively blowing search out of the water.

Direct Response advertisers that rely heavily on search today are starting to look for alternatives.  They are looking forward at video  They are re-testing rich media.  They are pushing email and thinking about mobile.  But what they need to do, if someone has not already rang the bell, is go back and see how they can become better at display advertising.  It is still the most effective, ROI-efficient mechanism model if the management is proactive and the technologies are properly leveraged.  Call me if you can’t figure it out and I will explain it to you.  Half of the people I talk to don’t do business with me after I educate them first, but I educate them anyway.  The smarter people become about all of this, the better decisions they will make.  Whether it is to work with me and my company or not.  Reacting with Insight.

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How to Measure Video Performance – I inspire People

Bradley Werner took a chapter from my blog in his article How to Measure Video Performance today.  I guess he, like me, is trying to see where the light is with video.

The article highlights the basics of measurement.  Did we reach the right people?  Did we affect the audience the way we wanted to?  He asks the esoteric questions correctly but then only gives us the most basic concepts of impressions as clicks to define them.  Blah.  We need more power Scotty!

Bradly does talk about percentages of video views which is more interesting, but that is a whole lot like an impression.  The advanced measurement is the “…Interaction Rate. IR is the sum of all the interactions, divided by the number of impressions. These interactions include the click-thru’s, replays clicks, unmute clicks, clicks on all the add-on features (submit info, download, watch video 2), clicks within a game, rollovers, etc.”  This is the only meat we get from the article.

So my inspiration brought on a flounder.  I will keep looking for you, but for now the search goes on.  If video is to cross the chasm and bring us the next great thing, we need to see measurement capabilities that are a fusion of broadcast and display.  It has to be rich media to the nth degree.  Interactions plus playtimes plus the ability to place a marker on the user so that we can later recognize, distinguish them and target them in the future as with display advertising.  The golden nugget.  We’ll find it.  Java calls it a muffin.  I wonder if video will call it a scone?

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Site Optimization and Ad Serving

It amazes me how infrequently agencies and advertisers – but especially agencies – don’t take advantage of the tools that are readily available and at their fingertips. 

Online advertising implies the management of campaigns with the intent of improving performance over time.  With that, media teams acquire tools to make it easier to manage the process and improve performance.  Ad servers come to mind.  But so do network-buys.  You might argue that network-buys are intended to reach an audience or a specific grouping of inventory but really its about convenience of the media buy, bang for the buck.  Networks optimize for the agency so there is very little to be done.  Search is a well-performing convenience too.  Buy a LOT of terms and off you go.  Deploy SEO and it runs itself (sort of).  

Back to ad servers.  It seems to me that what was once a heavily used tool as fallen off with regard to how it is leveraged and applied.  Agencies rely more and more on auto-optimization rather than actively analyzing and optimizing campaigns.  The fast and dirty mechanisms of network-advertising and Search have seeped their way back into display.  Auto-optimization is a tool intended to run the steady course, like an auto-pilot, once the smart decisions have been made.  But it seems that more people just turn it on from the beginning.

An ad server offers an advertiser or its agency the opportunity to measure the performance of an ad by site and section down to the hour.  Changes can be made on the fly and the performance of the campaign can be incrementally improved over the course of the campaign.  Advertisers, who’s bottom-line is more dear to their hearts, utilize the tools more aggressively than agencies.  Agencies more often review performance once or twice a week and course correct accordingly.  But there is the opportunity to do so much more!  A lot of money is being left on the table! 

I have watched an advertiser decrease its spend incrementally by as much as 15% over the course of a couple of months while its revenue shot up by 25% or more and its click-through rate went up by as much as half by using optimization techniques.   You can’t do that with auto-optimization.  You have to thoughtfully be applying principles of analyzing data and making decisions that result in better ad serving.  But agencies just don’t usually put the effort in.

Now, maybe I have overgeneralized.  Because there are agencies out there that do put in the effort.  Direct Response agencies that work toward the bottom-line, are result-oriented and apply the techniques to incrementally improve performance will do it.  These are the aggressive players that are systematically acquiring more of the online spend over other less adaptive players.  These are not all small agencies by the way.  There are some very large firms out there that have gotten their act together and it would be in my best interest to leave everyone out of my blog since I am in the space.  But my advice to you is this.  Make sure that if you are working with an agency that you take an interest in how your campaigns are managed.  Know how they use these tools.  If you are selecting an agency, find out how much effort will be put towards the utilization of technology in managing your campaigns.  And if you are an agency, think about how much time you spend improving the ROI for your client leveraging technology.  Because whether you see it or not, there is always someone whispering in their ear that they can do it better than you can and for less money, more efficiently.

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How Does YouTube, Google, Yahoo and the Next 5 Years Play Out? What Will We Measure?

So the buzz of the week is the big Google buy.  Everyone is talking about it, writing about it, speculating about it, gesticulating about it.  I would be remiss to let the week pass without adding my penny-sense.  But my perspective is a little difference, as usual.

Consider how video advertising comes into play.  When Google dominates the next mechanism of the web beyond search, and figures out how to monetize it, will we see the same level of measurement?  Google bought Urchin, called it Google Analytics and gave it away.  But it does not come close to the reporting capability that one gets from display advertising.  No where near as granular.  Bottom line, you don’t know impressions so you can’t know effectiveness of messaging.  Big whole in analysis there.

So what happens with video when you can’t measure impressions, or if you can but you can’t measure uniques.  Booyah Network’s SpotXchange is a new concept video advertising ad server that demonstrates how to insert ads into video on sites like YourTube.  A publisher can pull ads via tags, attach them to the front of the video and force the viewer to watch a spot before running the desired video.  But there is no measurement, just the play.  There is no click-thru, or post-click analysis measurement that I have been made aware of that rivals what one can gain from display advertising.  So if this is the next great thing, how can it come to the market without doing so with what the market expects in analytical knowledge of campaign performance?  Maybe they can’t.

Great research that I have come across: Mary Meeker from Merrill Lynch’s “Sector Wrap: Web Ad Spend to Spike.”  In this report, she forecasts that Internet ad spending will grow 20% a year to $32B by 2010.  Yahooooo!  Great numbers, best yet.  Of course, Merrill’s numbers are usually the highest.  You can dig out this report on your own so I’m not going to give you all the stats here.  But what was interesting was her insight into video advertising.  She described that video, as the up and coming, would not likely rival search or display advertising as its own new source of revenue in the near future but would rather generate a new stream of revenue as a wrap-around medium.  Running 10-20-30sec spots in front of video will steal budget from broadcast not necessarily from Internet advertising because Internet advertising has a different set of metric driven behind it.  Usually direct response driven.  Think about that.  The Internet is the largest 1:1 capable medium in existant.  There is one of my consistent messages!  Speak to each person differently through an ad campaign.  So the wrap-around banners, contextual placements, keyword and text link opportunities that video will create is where the real nearer-term revenue will come from.  Interesting.

Maybe we need not be so concerned about video’s ability to track, measure and report the way web advertising does right now.  More importantly, let’s focus on how it can be leveraged to create more high-valued inventory for traditional Internet advertising.  Plenty of people will be working on monetizing the video ad.  Google for one thing.  But there are a lot of people with a lot to gain who should be working on evolving the display mechanisms to incorporate video advertising so that we evolve with it….

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Direct Response Advertising Online – Different From Lead-Generation and What’s Next

Who represents the largest segment of buyers online today?  Aside from the data that tells us financial services, adult content and retail?  It’s Direct Response advertisers.  Companies looking to generate leads, sell specific products or specifically promote a desired result are the ones that buy up the greatest amount of inventory online.  One caveat, they buy it at the lowest price.  They buy all the remnant space and that is a lot of inventory.

Network-buys, cost-per-lead, cost-per-acquisition, cost-per-action – whatever you want to call it – is everything but CPM.  Direct Response advertisers are looking for the end result only.  The problem is that the mechanism that produces these results, network-buys, CPC, CPL, CPA does not enable the advertiser to measure or determine which message worked better than others.  All they can do is optimize based on the site or network’s performance in contrast to another site or network.  They have no way of knowing is a banner working well or not, because they do not know the impression or click-thru rates.

Some Direct Response advertisers have begun to care about optimization of campaigns, however, because they have nailed the sites and networks that perform well, they have reached a demand generation plateau.  Now they need to figure out how to better message to the audiences that they reach if they want to pull greater numbers. 

Enter the ad server.  How does a direct response advertiser, who has no idea how many impressions they have been receiving, budget and plan for the use of an ad server who will charge on a CPM basis?  Ad servers can’t change their pricing model and charge on a CPA because that model is based on bandwidth costs, which is a per-ad-served overhead.  So what do direct response advertisers do?

Here is where some Direct Response advertisers actually become differentiated from lead-generators.  I have not described this classification up until now.  Lead generators stay at this level.  They continue to look for more places to buy leads, actions or acquisitions and forgo ever learning which messages actually work better than others and forgo gaining the ability to optimize campaign messaging.

Direct Reponse advertisers, however, move forward.  These advertiser cross the line and venture on to, or back to, testing CPM advertising.  But when they do so they look for specific placements that will offer them higher return opportunities.  This is where we once again get into the realm of targeting.  Behavioral target-ors are pouncing on these direct response advertisers like vendors flocking to tourists getting off of a cruise ship.  They promise superior response rates and the ability to reach specialized audiences through event-based targeting technologies.  The networks are big on this.  It’s their upsell to the Direct Reponse advertiser.  Tacoda and are the leaders of the pack. 

But how good is the inventory to begin with?  I know major advertisers that experiment and even include these networks in their media buys because its the best they can find.  Because there is nothing better out there.  When it comes down to it, however, event-based targeting has not proven to be a cost-effective alternative.  See some of my earlier posts on behavioral targeting as the limitations are obvious.  And there is better.  Direct Response advertiser therefore continue to test CPM markets cautiously to see if they can find niche placements that will perform.

The newest thing on the block is customer re-targeting.  Direct Response advertisers are beginning to appreciate that while they advertise to acquire new business, they are simultaneously advertising in front of their existing customers.  So if given the opportunity to message to their existing customers at the same time, they have the opportunity to increase demand by cross-selling, up-selling and driving existing customers to transact again.  Event-based targeting attempts to do this, but it does not leverage the knowledge that a marketer has about its customers.  TruEffect’s DirectServe Technology does. 

This post is not about product promotion so I will leave it for another time.  But in short, DirectServe leverages an advertiser’s database of customer knowledge to re-target customers through online advertising.  So an advertiser can recognize its existing customers through an online ad campaign, distinguish them from non-customers and message to each audience differently in real-time.  Pretty cool.

So for the Direct Response advertiser looking to leverage CPMs, customer re-targeting becomes an attractive option.  Lead-gen brings in new opportunities.  And customer re-targeting can be used to re-engage existing customers and drive recurring revenue.

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Is it Engagement or Advertising Audience Composition That We Should Measure?

Jim Meskauskus argues in his iMedia Connection (10/10/2006) article, Can Anybody Really Measure Engagement, that the theory of engagement has less of a practical application to online advertising than the more commonly applied reach and frequency.  While commonly accepted, his article goes on to define the theory of engagement but falls short of demonstrating why reach and frequency are applicably valuable to the online advertising initiative.

More importantly, however, is to remind ourselves that online advertising is, and always will be the most advance 1:1 direct marketing medium-capable advertising platform.  Branding is a surface capability, but it is the direct response advertisers that are killing it online.  Brand advertisers who have created a blended response-generating model have developed an approach to online advertising that generates positive, measurable results as well.  At the end of the day, the web enables us to communicate to an individual.  If you can recognize someone, distinguish them from someone else, you can message to them specifically.  The technology is there for us to use.

Reach and frequency tells us how many people we can touch and how often.  But moving beyond that is composition.  Who do we reach through our ad campaigns can become more important than the gross numbers.  What percent of the audience we touch is comprised of an existing customer base would be more valuable to an advertiser than how many people are touched.  Are we reprospecting existing customers?  If so, should we speak to them differently?  The technology is there for us to do so.

I think that engagement is an umbrella concept that encompasses what is possible online.  Reach and frequency is within the hierarcy.  The subset now, however is composition of the advertising audience and driving known individuals towards specific actions.  You want to measure engagement, even on a branding basis, personalize the message to the indivudal because its possible, measurable and necessary online.

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