Ad Management Software | 9
[Editor's note: this article was written by Charlie Morris in August of 1998. As such, we cannot insure that information enclosed is up to date as of the time you are reading it. Please contact the vendors discussed for updated information on their individual offerings.]
ClickWise/Focalink, IMGIS AdForce, and various other full-featured packages are offered as "services" rather than as "products" and will not be covered here because they belong only to particular ad networks. I've included Adfinity, although it is priced on a CPM basis (you pay a certain amount per thousand impressions served). A spokesman for Intelligent Interactions Corporation has told me that they are moving toward a "service bureau model" (they were recently bought by ad rep firm 24/7), and Adfinity will probably cease to be offered as a stand-alone product eventually.
Ad networks apparently find it expedient to either buy or make exclusive agreements with the developers of ad-management packages. Several of the most full-featured packages out there are now the exclusive domain of particular ad networks, and not available to Web publishers who want to manage ads in-house. The following list has been limited to full-featured banner ad management packages that are available for purchase and use by individual Web sites.
Central Ad PRO 3.0J
This package offers basic functionality for a tiny price, and runs on NT or Unix. Page targeting and day/time targeting are available.
ADvantage, from CyberOps, Inc.
This one runs only on NT 4.0 servers, but its core Active Server Component claims to "take full advantage of the NT architecture to deliver performance far, far beyond that of standard CGI-style ad solutions." Multiple ads on a page are supported, as is even delivery. Day/time targeting is available, but more complex user targeting is not. No rich banner types, no e-mail reports, and no cache-defeating functionality.
For a comparatively low price, AdJuggler offers much of the functionality of the top-dollar packages. Rich media are not supported, and the delivery options don't work quite as advertised, but otherwise all of the advanced features described previously are present.
Page targeting and day/time targeting are available, but user targeting is not. AdJuggler reports only impressions, click-throughs, and click-through rate, but the user can generate a real-time report for any desired time period, broken down by day, week or month as desired. Unfortunately, there is no way to export, the data to other applications (unless you do some custom programming.)
AdJuggler is one of the few packages that can automatically generate e-mail reports, although it's hard to imagine any advertiser who would be satisfied with them out of the box. The ASCII reports give two sets of figures: "cumulative" and "today." As no precise definition of these terms is offered, the figures are almost meaningless. Advertisers need figures for specific time periods, so that they can compare results from different campaigns. Therefore an ad report needs to specify exactly the dates and times that a figure includes. At The Web Developer's Journal, we were able to craft a workaround using AdJuggler's API. AJ's figures get plugged into an HTML template with our logo and color scheme, and labeled with unambiguous titles like "6/1/98 through 6/30/98 inclusive." The page is then e-mailed to the client as an attachment. This solution required a fair amount of custom programming on our part.
Dynamo Ad Station 3.0, from Art Technology Group, and Radiation AMS, from GlobalMedia Design, are two lesser-known (but powerful) medium-priced products that are worth a look.
Comments are welcome
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Created: Aug. 19, 1998
Revised: Aug. 24, 1998