How Rally Software merges search, online display ad efforts

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Rally Software, Boulder, Colo., markets “agile” software designed to help software development teams. Its target audience includes chief information officers, chief technology officers and other executives charged with software development.

Dru Jacobs, Rally's director-demand management, is charged with generating leads from this market, using a variety of methods from the traditional to the innovative. (Rally Software has about 2,000 customers in 60 countries.)

Like many companies, especially those in the technology sector, Rally generates a lot of custom content—such as white papers syndicated by TechTarget—that explain how its software is used and what productivity gains it can provide. Rally generates leads by placing marketing messages in a number of media to drive traffic to its custom content and Web site.

In addition to ads in print publications and display ads on Web sites, Rally also uses search marketing through Google and other search engines.

One method the company has been using more frequently is to combine the targeting power of search marketing with the visual attractiveness of online display ads. “We've been using AdReady for about three years now, from about the time they started,” Jacobs said.

AdReady provides an online, self-service platform similar to Google's AdWords program. On the platform (available at, an advertiser sets a monthly budget, chooses appropriate keywords then creates an online display ad. Marketers can choose among display ad templates and sizes or use their own existing ads.

Under partnerships with Google and Yahoo, AdReady places these ads on pages that feature search keywords the marketers select. AdReady also supplies tools to help marketers analyze and optimize their advertising's effectiveness, as well as offering a premium package with more account management to help marketers optimize their campaigns.

AdReady founder and Chairman Aaron Finn is a big believer in the power of online display advertising. He points out that about 95% of time online is spent on sites that carry display advertising as opposed to search engine sites.

AdReady addresses the difficulties that “small and midsize advertisers face since agencies are mostly out of reach and not a good fit,” said Chuck Richard, VP-lead analyst at research firm Outsell.

The end result for Rally has been extremely effective advertising. “As a result of the targeting, performance visibility and optimization capability we have with our banner ads that we run through AdReady, we see nearly double the conversion rate for inquiries over banner advertising through other channels,” Jacobs said.

Because of this, Rally has continually boosted its spending using the system. “Campaign spend through AdReady has represented a significant portion of our paid search budget over the last 18 months,” Jacobs said.

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