Marketers tweak efforts on fly

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When the U.S. Army changed its slogan from the 20-year-veteran "Be All You Can Be" to "An Army of One" in 2001, marketing materials needed to be quickly adjusted in recruitment offices from Tuscaloosa to Trenton. Moreover, the Army wanted to ensure local offices would retain the quality of the integrated marketing campaign in grass-roots efforts.

Working with prepress agency Capps Digital, a unit of Publicis Groupe's Leo Burnett, the Army established MOPS, the Media Online Placement System. Housing all Army creative digitally in Capps' "Datahive," the system allows recruiters to order customized ads and materials for local events, said Capt. Carl Fehrenbacher, local advertising project officer with U.S. Army Recruiting Command. Print, radio, outdoor and collateral displays are routed automatically to the Burnett account team and the media team at Starcom Worldwide, and are published or produced in a matter of days. The process can be monitored as it happens, he said.

"What used to take eight weeks now takes five days, and with that we have been able to maintain our brand integrity," he said. Cost per ad was also reduced from $250 to $60, saving the Army $7 million in its local advertising budget.

emerging technologies

The "Army of One" isn't alone. Other marketers are seeking out emerging technologies to manage integrated campaigns, said Roy Ralston. Mr. Ralston, a VP in Rapp Collins' Dallas office, played a primary role in developing a media optimization analysis program for online travel client Travelocity.

Travelocity was able to leverage three years of historical sales and marketing data to uncover how current media choices affect its bottom line with the system developed by the Omnicom Group agency. The result was a model that suggests optimum timing, spending and media mix to achieve quarterly goals.

Using the tagline "Go Virtually Anywhere," Travelocity relies on radio as the basis for campaigns, but also includes cable TV, online, print and direct in its mix, using The Richards Group, Dallas, on creative and Omnicom's OMD for media buying, said Karla Rowland, Travelocity's senior marketing manager. "We want to reach customers at each point in the buying process," she said.

After working with the system for over a year, Travelocity has slashed its cost-per-site-visit by 20% via the model, which provides the company with weekly progress reports and allows it to tweak media plans as they unfold.

"It has totally changed the way we buy media and has really stretched our ad dollars," said Ms. Rowland. "We can better understand the difference in impact between a 30- and 60-second spot, and it has helped us pare down to make our newspaper buys more efficient."

With online systems, "[Marketers] can see how all transactions take place, no matter what media or how it is used," said Capps' Datahive manager Bob LeBoeuf. "And the only way to get rid of costs is to know they're there."

Capps' digital consulting group is working with clients like Dow Chemical and Gateway on similar online programs to streamline local efforts and spending.