Riley, Emily I read the recent press release from Havas that they selected RFP and campaign management tool Traffiq to be implemented across their major US media buying offices. The timing for this news is pretty cool. I'm planning some major research around these kinds of technologies next month.

Many of you have read from my and Nate Elliott's reports and blog posts that the interactive marketers we recently surveyed don't rate their measurement capabilities very well. In many cases, we recommend some combination of human and technological expertise in order to get better at things like measurement. So often though, marketers are totally overwhelmed by the "stack" of different technologies they need to master in order to be fully functional. I'm planning to survey interactive marketers about the trouble with the stack, and plan to ask about the following:

  • Ad servers – What exactly are interactive marketers using their ad server for? And what things aren't working very well? (like frequency capping, behavioral targeting, billing, etc.)
  • RFP tools – How well are technologies working to make the RFP process easier? How seamless are they at interacting with ad servers?

  • Inventory management systems – Are interactive marketers and publishers leaving valuable inventory on the table by not using an inventory management system? Or is it more trouble than its worth and it makes more sense to simply use ad networks?

  • Billing and reconciliation – How hard is billing at the end of the month? What tools are typically used for billing?

  • Analytics tools – Are interactive marketers responsible for all of their analytics, or do they have another group or third party helping them? What tools do they use and what needs to they still have?

  • Search and Email tools – How well are these integrated into the rest of the media buying and analytics process? Is measurement, targeting and reconciliation across channels even possible today?

  • Rich media tools – If a marketer serves rich media or video, what technologies do they need to add? Do these campaigns then go into a "dark hole" where they are impossible to compare to media served via more traditional ad servers?

I'd love to hear from you about "the stack" – what kinds of issues you think plague interactive marketers, what additional categories I left out, and what solutions are out there that promise a change for the better. 

Many believe that technology is only be half of the problem, and that marketers simply haven't had to be technically adept in the past. Perhaps it is a matter of hiring for more technical and analytical marketing capabilities, or trusting and relying more heavily on agencies. I hope to have those insights for you by the end of this research process, but I can't do it without you, so please send me comments.