Mark Patron was
chief executive of RedEye in November last year. He talks to us about trends in the web analytics sector…
What’s the latest on the integration of Optimum Web and e-relationship marketing into the RedEye business? Any plans to move into new areas?
The e-RM business and its brand has now been fully integrated into the RedEye brand (see attached press release). We now have significantly greater capabilities, with a considerably larger platform enabling us to broadcast much higher volumes of emails than ever before. We currently send 50 million emails a month making us one of the largest email broadcasters in the UK.
OptimumWeb has also fully integrated into the RedEye business, however there is currency in the Optimum Web brand so we would be silly to lose it. The usability and accessibility expertise they bring is of significant value to our overall offering.
Absorbing these two businesses into RedEye has been incredibly exciting as it has enabled us to significantly extend our skills, knowledge, products and services so that we are no longer simply a web analytics company, but an online behavioural marketing and analysis business. By bringing the three businesses together, we have created a business that that is much greater than the sum of its three parts. This may sound like semantics but we genuinely now have a unique combination of services with which we can help clients to significantly improve their online marketing.
Are your clients taking more of an integrated approach to online marketing? And what advice would you give a firm planning to do so?
There’s definitely more integration from an advertiser point of view going on. They typically want to concentrate their online activities down to a couple of key partners. One trend we see is companies wanting to have a customer acquisition partner and a customer retention supplier. That’s why we’ve started integrating the various services that we offer – getting online marketing to work properly is quite complex.
You can benchmark suppliers by the company they keep – the clients they have in your industry, and talking to people with experience of them.
Also, some companies just need software and some want more of an integrated approach. It’s very much horses or courses. Also, people need good technology, as well as good data and good analysis. Software doesn’t jump out of the page and create value for you. It’s about suppliers and clients getting their heads together and working hard to make your data make money.
Where do you think the analytics industry today in terms of awareness and adoption by businesses?
I think that in online, we are still in the very early days. There’s a long way to go in finding out how to make data work online. If you look at the advent of behavioural targeting and Web 2.0, these things are still very much in their infancy. A lot of companies are making great strides online and that’s fantastic, but it is still very early days.
From your database marketing experience, what more could online/email marketers be doing to increase the effectiveness of their campaigns?
Segmentation is woefully under-utilised online. Companies still tend to blanket email their customers. Email is very cheap to do but it’s critical is to do more segmentation and send emails that are relevant to the recipient, otherwise you get relegated to the junk folder.
Segmentation jumps out at me because it is used fairly maturely offline. Segmentation and targeting really drive the whole industry – whether it’s the direct marketing industry or database marketing. Now, the majority of advertising is below the line direct marketing – you only send mails to the right target audience.
Online, it’s a bit sad, but segmentation and targeting is under-utilised at the moment. I see that changing in the next couple of years.
Which industry sectors do you expect to see the biggest growth in online ad spend over the next couple of years?
Everyone quite rightly says that FMCG is one of the big sectors that hasn’t really started. The way that FMCG tends to work is that things do change and they will become a lot bigger online, but it will take a lot more time than people expect.
How do you see the first click vs last click argument developing and what’s your current approach to the problem?
I think the present approach is simplistic. Where we stand is, as we speak, we are developing deeper analytics so that we can measure the origination, the assisted clicks and the final click that gets it over the line.
At the moment, the norm is last click wins, but if you use Google AdWords/Analytics they will take the credit if they have gone near anything. There is an element of who measures wins.
Whether it’s who measures wins or last click wins, all of it is completely simplistic and needs to be addressed. The way we are addressing it is through transparency – letting our analytics clients see the whole picture. It’s their budget and they can decide how they allocate payment.
To make online marketing work well you use pull techniques. They are not about ramming things down consumers’ throats – it is about getting conversions over a series of very subtle steps. Over time, that process will become longer and more subtle. The approach of last media wins just doesn’t work and will ultimately fall by the wayside.
Smart advertisers will want to reward people properly – not by giving Google their whole customer acquisition budget but by using a combination of different media.
What challenges are being presented by ‘Web 2.0’ for analytics?
I think it’s very early days. We’re really on the wrong side of the fence to understand Web 2.0, to be a bit controversial. In the online jobs market, it wasn’t till I saw the candidates were driving the job market that I began to understand how the market was really moving. We’ll all be playing catch-up – the market is being driven by users, not suppliers or publishers.
In terms of pure analytics, tracking and measuring, again it’s very early days and we track whatever advertiser traffic is being generated. But once the flood gates really open, things will change quite dramatically.
What effects do you expect on traditional metrics?
The traditional metrics still apply, but what will happen is if a particular place is important, like Second Life, and has to own a captive audience, you will need particular metrics for particular sites. From a metrics point of view, it doesn’t really change the traditional metrics people use.
What are your plans for the search division you launched last year?
With search, what we are doing is more from an analytics point of view – helping people work out the balance between their investments in SEO and PPC, for example. We have done PPC right the way through from doing the administration, but I don’t see it as a key strength for the future.