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Metrics, Meet Online Marketing

I was recently in a meeting with the franchise advisory committee of a major child care company that was discussing how to reallocate funds for the second half of 2007. In an unsolicited straw poll nine of the ten participants, whose entire marketing experience up to that point had been with print media, suggested that their company cut print advertising by at least 60% and put it into online media. It was an amazing expression of how much the conventional wisdom on current advertising has changed. But where to put that online spend, and what skills are needed to make it work?

Successful Internet marketing requires applying a broad array of skills and technologies across an ever expanding choice of channel and media. These include, of course, Web Browsers, but has expanded to Mobile Phone Advertising, podcasts, email campaigns, Vlogs and Video ads, DVRs like TiVo and Apple TV. With the upcoming release of Zattoo, a peer-to-peer content delivery system that will compete directly with cable television through broadband, the delivery and tracking of user information will become more and more integrated with internet marketing.

What all of these tools have in common is the existence of aggressive metrics that can be used to draw real conclusions about visitor behavior in ways that were only dreamed of on Madison Avenue. It is a common understanding among advertisers that what people DO is far more important than what they SAY. The internet, at its core, is the ultimate measure of the true actions of a computer user.

Google Analytics is only the first step in this trend. Analytics gives us great data about specific behavior during individual sessions, but the next trend will be to measure behavior of a profile and infer behavior accordingly. Amazon, Netflix, and some other companies are already doing this, but they have done it using custom-designed internal frameworks. The develoment of a relatively simple out-of-the-box solution that allows companies to start collecting multi-session profile data — and analyze it effectively — will be the next step forward in analytics.

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