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Understanding campaign management

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You don’t need an MBA to understand campaign management. Simply put, online campaign management tools help marketers plan, execute and analyze an online media buy, making sure they get the highest return for their marketing dollars.

Some suites handle all three of these tasks; others claim to be best of breed at one function. For example, there are some tools that only handle planning, and others, such as ad servers, that focus solely on execution. The fastest growing segment in campaign management—and the one that can bring the quickest results—is the optimization and analysis segment.

Different analysis systems track different kinds of data, but almost all of the systems still focus on an old online advertising favorite: click-through. Today, though, the management tools go beyond simple conversion. It’s no longer enough to know that someone clicked on an ad. Now, marketers want to know how many times Web surfers see a particular ad, how long they stay on a site once they’ve clicked on the ad, and whether that conversion resulted in a sales action.

"Did they purchase something? Did they use online help instead of calling a customer service rep? Did they register for a database? Campaign management makes marketers more accountable," said Seth Segel, senior VP with Jupiter Media Metrix, a New York-based provider of campaign analysis services.

Newer tools also assess the performance of non-traditional online ad formats such as e-mail.

The benefits are significant. In the case of online banner ads, users can assess a particular ad on the basis of content and location. If an ad isn’t doing well enough, they can swap it out immediately and avoid wasting advertising dollars.

Marketers are taking analysis even further by linking ad performance and conversion with existing customer relationship management. If a company knows what type of ad prompted a new customer to make a first purchase, they can use that information to get the customer to a second purchase, too.

"When every part of a marketing program is integrated effectively, the customer gets better attention," said Carol Meyers, VP-marketing for Lincoln, Mass.-based marketing management software vendor Unica Corp.

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