Answer: The measurements traditionally used for online marketing—clicks and views—aren't really that relevant. Particularly for b-to-b marketers, what does a click really mean to long-term marketing goals? Instead, marketers should focus on placement, messaging and benchmarking.
First, tackle placement. Because you will likely be using smaller, niche sites to distribute your message (to save on cost, waste and because many businesses block usage of the large portals during business), you'll need to apply a layer of polling or additional surveys to see if your ad is really being recognized and absorbed. Many of these smaller sites don't necessarily have reliable data or sophisticated internal systems to help you understand if the placement is working, so take this step out of their hands and ask the audience base directly.
Next, because of the long consideration and greater cash investment in a b-to-b sale, your messaging will need to deliver multiple persuasion points with each successive viewing. Most consumer campaigns concentrate on the top- and bottom-most points on the funnel, and push one value proposition or brand truth over and over. But in this environment you need to concentrate more broadly and tell the potential client multiple reasons to believe throughout the campaign. Measure effectiveness by leading users to a microsite dedicated to expanding on those points and pulling them through to an action, such as a registration, call or sales meeting.
As for benchmarking, because you will likely be pushing an assortment of ad units, each with unique differentiation points—and because the habits, behaviors and needs of your customer are much more aligned than in the consumer world—leverage the dedicated microsites to reinforce what pulled the customer in. Then, connect these microsites to benchmark the interest points that are most compelling to the users, shifting your ad placements and messages on the fly using these data. I've seen too many good campaigns fail because they pushed a potential client to the company's Web site, which isn't tactical enough to deliver a result.
Dan Dooley is VP-client services at Spunlogic (www.spunlogic.com), an Atlanta-based interactive marketing and technology agency.