Campaign management

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Managing multiple online advertising campaigns had become something of a juggling act for Tim McHale, chief media officer with advertising agency Tribal DDB, New York. So last summer, McHale, who oversees as many as 10 client campaigns at once, went looking for some help, in the form of a new campaign management program.

At the time, Tribal DDB was using DoubleClick Inc.’s ad-serving technology, which has some management capabilities. But McHale wanted something that could handle online advertising planning and analysis—allowing his agency to measure the behavior of visitors on its clients’ Web sites.

"We want to help our clients better understand who is using their sites and then make inferences on some of the things we see," McHale said.

McHale didn’t have to look too long or hard. One of his clients introduced him to Atlas DMT, a Seattle-based marketing technology company. After assessing Atlas DMT’s Digital Marketing Suite, McHale felt comfortable signing up for the service.

All of the software is hosted by Atlas, which also receives the ad tracking information into a database. Tribal, along with other Atlas customers, logs into the Atlas service remotely for results and information. Today, McHale is using the application service provider (ASP), along with the DoubleClick technology, to get what he believes are the best ad buys for his customers at the lowest costs.

Campaign management tools have been around since the mid-’90s, but rapid growth within the past 18 months has brought new vendors and offerings into the mix. The average advertiser, agency or publisher now has dozens of options to choose from—something that’s both a blessing and a curse.

The majority of campaign management tools fall into one of two categories: those that are folded into customer relationship management (CRM) or marketing automation systems, or those that are targeted, stand-alone campaign management products.

Enhanced CRM packages are among the newest campaign management offerings, growing out of more traditional CRM products from PeopleSoft Inc., E.phiphany Inc., Oracle Corp. and Siebel Systems Inc. These new entries are a confirmation of a larger trend: integrating campaign management with CRM and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems.

CRM-based campaign management is focused on merging existing customer relationships with online advertising. The programs, which usually are software-based, allow companies to capture leads generated by online ads and market to these prospects more effectively.

They also help advertisers figure out which ad buys are the most effective. By analyzing where existing customers came from, companies can target specific types of Web sites or online marketing programs.
In addition, vendors say CRM-based campaign
management allows users to create unified marketing programs, merging direct mail, e-mail campaigns and online advertising.

Stand-alone campaign management tools or those that are part of larger marketing automation software systems usually are modular. End users can buy just a planning tool, for example, or just a campaign analysis service. These programs also capture leads, but they often go farther, executing media buys, measuring click-through, and analyzing leads and traffic.

ROI in common

Both CRM and stand-alone packages have one thing in common: They are tied to a campaign’s return on investment (ROI), a feature that becomes even more important in an economic downturn.

Companies can track exactly how they’re spending their money, said Rob McLaughlin, co-founder and general manager of marketing software provider Aprimo Inc., based in Indianapolis.

"A company may have committed to introducing three new products and growing that business by X percent, but when they do analysis, they see that 60% of their marketing dollars are funneled into legacy products," McLaughlin said. "That’s not good marcom."

Software for today’s campaign management tools can cost between $500,000 and $2 million to install and manage a campaign in-house. The ASP model may cost less, depending on the size and scope of the ad campaign. Generally, ASP models charge between a few pennies to a few dollars per impression, based on volume.

"You’re only paying for the service when you use it, either per month or per lead," said Russell G. Hill, president of Ultimate Lead Systems, based in Berea, Ohio. "If you cut your advertising budget, your cost drops."

In addition, companies pay less for ASP programs because they avoid hiring extra IT people to manage the systems.

Impressive cost benefits

The cost benefits seem to have made an impression on users. Today, ASPs comprise the bulk of campaign management implementations, garnering 70% of the market, according to analysts.

But that’s starting to change. "It’s getting to be more like 50-50 or even 60-40 for licensed models over ASPs," said Bill Chambers, principal analyst with Doculabs, a research firm in Chicago. "A lot of companies are looking to capture more control."

Still, even with the benefits, analysts and vendors warn customers that they still need strong people in place to analyze the results of campaign management software and make appropriate business moves based on these findings. Unfortunately, everyone isn’t following that advice.

"Some of the people who purchased tools feel a bit betrayed," said Ro King, VP-customer solutions for Quaero, a CRM research and consulting company based in New York. "They haven’t gotten what they expected. In some ways, campaign management tool vendors set the bar too high."

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