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Target Marketing

Analytics Options

April 2006

A search expert breaks down marketers' SEM tracking tool options

To help you navigate your way through the various online analytics reporting options, Target Marketing spoke with Sara Holoubek, a free agent who serves the interactive advertising industry and its investors, and who sits on the SEMPO (Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization) board of directors.

Target Marketing: What options do marketers have when it comes to tracking SEM performance?

Sara Holoubek: When working with an SEM agency, it's very common to use that firm's tool. Some charge a monthly fee, while others bundle it into the package. Third-party tools for bidding, tracking and reporting are also available, whether you're using an SEM agency or not. In this category are the Web analytics tools that have incorporated media tracking over time. Finally, I have seen a few major online marketers with their own homegrown reporting tools, but this requires serious investment.

TM: What factors affect SEM reporting tool selection?

SH: Before entertaining any sales pitch, make sure you understand how search will be judged within your own organization. Be honest about your firm's needs in advertising tracking. Is your CMO metrics- hungry? Or does she simply want a singular, consistently formatted report? Prioritize the specific metrics and how they might change in the future. Perhaps you have solid, natural and paid programs today, but will you engage in pay-per-call or video search tomorrow? Will e- mail, banners and search all need to be reported, side by side?

After outlining your dashboard needs, have a frank internal conversationabout budget. This is a good check-and-balance as to how important budget is, and prepares you to go shopping.

The relationship with your vendors also will affect your decision. If you have a good relationship with your SEM [agency], but feel that the reporting tools are not as robust as they could be, a delicate conversation is in order. Likewise, if you are bringing an SEM [agency] into the picture, your Web analytics firm might feel rebuffed.

Finally, the tech resources required on your end should be considered. In most cases, implementation is relatively easy. That being said, clarity on who is responsible for "outages" [the times when search reporting operations are down due to Web server failures, etc.] should he detailed early on.

TM: What are the benefits of the different reporting tool options?

SH: The henefit of using an SEM agency's tool is that the entire team is well-versed and the developers are close at hand. For top- tier SEM firms, there is likely to he more customization, or the ability to resolve a technical glitch.

The primary benefit of using a third-party tool would be confidence in the tool's robustness. These are well-capitalized product firms, whereas SEM agencies are primarily service firms. Almost all third-parry tiwls will measure search along with other online advertising metrics, resulting in a seamless report.

TM: Any disadvantages?

SH: While the SEM agencies' tools are definitely sufficient, they are designed for search and search alone. If you are shopping for a singular, comprehensive tracking tool for Web analytics and online advertising metrics, it might make more sense to go with a third- party tool.

On the other hand, if you need a high level of confidence in search hidding, tracking and reporting, it would he wise to select a tool from a company that is dedicated to fine-tuning its [product]. Remember that every change to a paid search provider's program will need to he incorporated into the tool.

Copyright North American Publishing Company Apr 2006

(c) 2006 Target Marketing. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.

Source: Target Marketing