Ad Management Software | 12
[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.]
Advertisers tend to like nice pretty reports with your logo and some neat formatting, rather than a jumbled column of plain-text figures. They also need precision, as they will be plugging your numbers into spreadsheets and comparing the effectiveness of different banners and different campaigns. Ad reports need to specify exactly what time periods they cover, and they need to be able to show daily, weekly or monthly figures as desired. The ability to export traffic data to external applications such as spreadsheets is obviously a big plus. There are many features you may want in a traffic report, but it really all comes down to this: making your advertisers happy. The key to this is flexibility, as advertisers are getting more persnickety all the time.
Unfortunately for publishers, serving ads is not a set-and-forget proposition. Advertisers need reports showing impressions and click-throughs for each banner, and most will not take the time to retrieve the reports themselves from the Web, but will insist that you send them regular reports by e-mail. Guess what? Out of all the major ad-management packages, only AdManager and AdJuggler can generate e-mail reports automatically, at least out of the box (and AdJuggler's e-mail reports are almost useless, as will be harped upon in greater detail later). This means that most publishers will need either to have a member of their staff prepare a report for each advertiser every week, or do some custom programming to set up automated e-mail reports (actually not as far-fetched as it sounds, as all of the Big Three, Ad Juggler, and several others make their APIs available).
I find it a bit puzzling that, while so many advertisers demand reports by e-mail, so few of the major ad-management packages can generate them (although several simple and cheap shareware solutions can). The answer to the puzzle, I believe, is that the big boys were designed with rep firms and ad networks in mind, rather than publishers. A rep firm's job is to interface between clients and publishers, and they have plenty of grunts who can fish up a report off the Web every Monday morning, and convert it to whatever format the fussy client is hollering for this week. Of course, this is one of the reasons that so many publishers are turning over their ad management to rep firms, or networks.
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Created: Aug. 19, 1998
Revised: Aug. 25, 1998