Meaningful measures beyond the 'big click'

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J. G. Sandom heard about Jupiter Media Metrix’s Campaign Analysis tools at an industry conference six months ago. At the time, Sandom, president of New York-based interactive marketing company RappDigital, was only casually looking for a campaign management product. The company does a fair amount of ad placement on portals, and Sandom wanted to see if the buys he was making for customers were actually delivering on their promises.

"We’re particularly obsessed with developing programs that give measurable results," Sandom said. "The only way to test that is not just looking at the big click but what customers do when they get to a site all the way up to when they reach a shopping cart."

At the time, RappDigital used analysis tools from companies such as DoubleClick and WebTrends to assess click-through activity. Although these services were useful, Sandom said, their data were slightly flawed.

"Basically, ad networks or an off-the-shelf software tool such as WebTrends are server-based," Sandom said. "That means you put code on the [ad or Web] server and it maps what you’re serving; you’re seeing everything that has been served. Unfortunately, it doesn’t mean that everything served is actually seen [by Web surfers]. In reality, there’s a big difference between what is served and what is seen."

In other words, if a customer clicks on an ad but leaves the site before a page loads, it’s still counted as a click-through—even though the customer didn’t experience it. If you’re paying for placement on a cost-per-thousand (CPM) basis, which most online advertisers are, you can potentially spend money on click-throughs that never happened.

Sandom was interested in JMM’s Campaign Analysis tool because it is inherently different than server-based tools, he said. Instead of placing code on the server, Campaign Analysis uses transparent .gif technology to mark every page or ad related to a campaign. The tool, which is available via an application service provider (ASP) model, reports impressions only when a page or ad actually loads.

So far, JMM’s advantage, which instantly gave Sandom better insight into his media buys, has also been a stumbling block for RappDigital. Because JMM’s analysis tools require users to include a piece of unique code on every ad, Web page or e-mail, RappDigital needs to persuade publishers and clients to accept the code—something that isn’t easy, Sandom said.

And the task is even more daunting when Rapp-Digital’s customers contract with third-party e-commerce providers. Because RappDigital wants to follow its customers’ customers all the way from a site’s entry point until the exit point, which is often a shopping cart, the code needs placement in the e-commerce back-end.

Once this obstacle is overcome, however, clients and publishers benefit. Campaign analysis lets users know which ads are working and which aren’t.

"There might be a banner that has low click-through but higher sales generation," Sandom said. "Without a management tool, clients might pull an ad off just because it has low click-through. In truth, click-through means very little. Lead optimization is the real key."

Although pleased with the JMM management solution so far, Sandom said it’s too early in the implementation cycle to forecast when he’ll see a return on Rapp-Digital’s investment.

"It’s really going to end up being less about JMM’s technology and more about what we’re going to do with the data anyway," he said. "They have given us the telescope to look at the stars. Now it’s up to us to interpret what we see."

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