Overture Moves Beyond Search With Measurement Tool

Overture Services is expected to launch a marketing measurement tool today designed to introduce its 100,000 mostly small-scale advertisers to a more sophisticated analysis of their ad campaigns.

The Marketing Console, released by the performance marketing unit of Overture, Pasadena, CA, gives businesses a snapshot of what in their marketing campaigns is working, what is not and what is making the most money.

The hosted solution measures everything from banner to e-mail to search campaigns, giving advertisers performance data in regular marketing metrics such as cost per acquisition and return on advertising spend. Advertisers also can gauge things such as how leads convert to sales and how long it took to close a sale. All data are displayed in a Web-accessed dashboard.

The product marks Overture's first foray beyond the search world, where it pioneered the paid listings business that has driven a recovery in the online advertising industry. Now part of Yahoo, Overture has expanded its portfolio to helping small businesses better evaluate and allocate their marketing budgets.

While direct and brand marketers long have used sophisticated technology to parse their activities, their smaller counterparts largely have operated in the dark, said Stuart Schaffer, vice president of Overture's performance marketing division.

“We do have the capacity of bringing in larger businesses, but the lion's share of business out there is small businesses,” he said. “They don't get the tools that enable them to measure their business.”

Web site analytics has emerged from a provenance of techies to a key tool for marketers. Jupiter Research expects analytics to be a $1 billion market in 2006. Marketing Console developed from Overture's $9.5 million acquisition in January of smallish Carlsbad, CA-based analytics company Keylime Software.

Marketing Console does not offer the deep analytics e-commerce giants get from analytics companies like Coremetrics, but it does not come with the steep price tag, either. Marketing Console's pricing begins at less than $150 a month for tracking 40,000 leads; Coremetrics starts at $3,000 and can run up to $45,000 per month. Instead, Marketing Console will compete for small businesses' attention from offerings such as NetIQ's WebTrends, which has a small business edition that begins at $35 per month.

“It's getting more and more complex for an advertiser to manage their online marketing,” Schaffer said. “We're looking to help answer some very simple but direct questions.”

To appeal to what he calls the “right-brain folks,” Schaffer prefers to term the product “marketing intelligence” to convey that it is not about impenetrable reports but information to drive more sales.

“Our goal is to help make key business decisions, not just give them large reams of data,” he said.

Overture hopes Marketing Console gives small businesses a deeper, more complete view of their operating activities than that provided for free by search engines. Google, Overture and FindWhat.com offer free conversion tools. GoToast offers a search campaign optimization product that not only tracks what is working but shifts money to it.

“It's getting more and more complex, so you need some help to get it done,” said Gary Stein, an analyst with Jupiter Research.

Though Overture's initial plans are to sell Marketing Console to its advertiser base, it eventually could add it to Yahoo's varied small business offerings, which run from Web hosting to Internet storefronts. Yahoo's small business unit has a range of marketing services including the ability to run paid search and e-mail campaigns and list products in Yahoo Shopping.

“Clearly there's room to move this forward,” Schaffer said.

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