Go Beyond the Creative to Data Analysis

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By Susan Bratton


Advertisers are investing more of their Internet marketing dollars to develop rich-media banner ads that bring deep messages and interactivity into the banner space.


While these interactive capabilities are sexy and essential, it is the level of data you can gather that's really valuable for advertisers. Central to any rich-media campaign is the ability to gather, mine, manage and analyze consumer-interaction data, both during and after the campaign run. When consumers can click on different elements within an ad, request information, enter their own information, play games and print coupons or collateral, advertisers can track this user interaction across all sites of the media buy. Analysis of this information allows advertisers to better track their return on investment.


The first step in mining data from a rich-media ad is the same as for any marketing initiative: Plan your goals ahead of time and know what action you want consumers to take once they see the ad. Too often, advertisers focus primarily on the creative capabilities. This can result in a campaign with a high interaction rate but little insight into how the advertiser can better meet the needs of the consumer.


To track consumers' product or service preferences as they interact with a banner, a special event is assigned to different assets within the ad. For example, an automobile manufacturer may offer specs for three models within its rich-media ad. To choose which ones they want to see, consumers merely need to click on an image of the vehicle that interests them most. By assigning special-event tags to each image, the advertiser can track which model was the most popular and emphasize that vehicle in future campaigns.


Perhaps a manufacturer wants to create interest in a new product. Its rich-media ad prints various coupons for that product, such as "Buy one, get one free." Using special-event data, the advertiser can see which offer is the most compelling and use that data for their next campaign or alter the creative so the ad only offers the most popular coupon.


Beyond special-event data, there are numerous rich-media reporting capabilities to track your campaign's success. Data such as interaction rate and time spent interacting within the ad can all be used to measure the depth of the consumer's interaction with your ad. Fewer clicks and less time spent interacting are good indicators that the offer, message, or creative isn't connecting. The effectiveness of this data depends on how well you outline the campaign's goal prior to designing the creative.


Imagine how much more useful that data could be if you not only knew the demographics of consumers looking at the ad, but knew their age range, region of the country they live in and whether they have children in the household. Advanced anonymous profiling and targeting technologies enable you to learn more about your online target audience. With this knowledge, you can send ads customized to the consumer, resulting in a greater likelihood of reaching the right consumer with the right offer.


Incremental value can be derived from tracking post-click user behavior. Whereas the standard click-through report only shows how many consumers clicked through your ad, cookie technology enables you to follow consumers from their first exposure to an ad to the final online transaction, even if days elapse between.


With cookies, you know which audience segment has seen and acted on a campaign without sacrificing consumer privacy. Such anonymous profiling allows advertisers to collect audience data without requiring them to fill out online registration forms.


A sporting goods manufacturer, for example, develops a campaign for a new line of skis. The campaign automatically logs when a consumer interacts with the ad via a cookie on its browser. When the campaign is complete, the manufacturer can see if its ad exhibited the desired response from their target demographic, or if certain segments performed better than expected.


Using centralized ad serving and tracking tools that take advantage of anonymous profile databases can also track consumers who see your ad but don't interact with it. This lets you more effectively measure the impact of online branding and tailor future campaigns to speak directly to those consumer needs and interests.


By leveraging rich media's interactivity, special-event and post-click behavioral data and reporting, advertisers can achieve a greater understanding of what message attracts which type of audience and which sites that audience frequents. This leads to a much more intelligent approach toward campaign creation and implementation, and to better relationships with your consumers. And knowing that you're delivering what the consumer wants is the best information of all.
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