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E-mail Marketing Tool Changes Ads Based on Location, Time

  |  October 18, 2010   |  Comments

Ad creative is compiled dynamically based on where and when a subscriber opens the message.

A New York City startup has developed a service that delivers advertising creative in an e-mail marketing message on the fly - depending on when or where it's opened.

"It gives you the message you are supposed to get right now," Dave Hendricks, chief operating officer, LiveIntent, said in an interview. "If the offer or message was for one thing [product or service] on Tuesday and it's invalid by Thursday, we're not going to send you creative" for Tuesday's offer, he said.

E-mail marketers also have the option to deliver advertising creative based on a subscriber's location when she opens an e-mail. LiveIntent's geo-targeting service uses the subscriber's IP address to identify location, according to Hendricks. "Geo targeting is not as accurate today as say, GPS. It works really well at the DMA level, not at the Zip+4 level," he explained in a follow up e-mail, referring to designated market areas.

Here's how LiveIntent delivers an ad: "We place HTML5 tags in the message and the tags look to our servers on open. At that time other things occur, such as frequency control, creative confirmation, can-spam processing and suppression matching. The server also looks for any specific cookies or geo information at that time," Hendricks stated. An e-mail service provider, publisher, or another designated party would insert the tags in a message.

"If this helps marketers offer customized experiences, this a big help," said Stephanie Miller, a ClickZ Experts contributor and VP, digital messaging at Aprimo. "It's definitely cool and part of a trend where marketers want everything to be about engagement."

Marketers who plan to integrate LiveIntent's service with their e-mail systems are optimistic it will eliminate some manual processes associated with delivering different ad creative to subscribers.

Beth-Ann Eason, chief operating officer at Beliefnet.com, a spiritual website, plans to use LiveIntent's service, starting with its most popular newsletters. With 24 newsletters and 15 million subscriptions, Beliefnet.com delivers 750 million newsletters each month.

"This is the first we've seen a company target [e-mail] creative from advertisers to readers in real time. That's very much a distinguishing factor," Eason said. "We think it will result in a better customer experience and yield more revenue as a result."

Marketing consultancy Camelot Communications will also deploy LiveIntent on behalf of clients, said Alyssa Opella, director of customer relationship management. The geo-locator capabilities attracted her to the service. "Having a map showing where your local store is [in an e-mail] can be very beneficial for many of our clients," she said.

Relevancy Group CEO David Daniels, who was briefed on LiveIntent's service, also said he's intrigued by the geo-locator feature. Another potential benefit: LiveIntent creates an automated marketplace for advertisers and publishers. "It puts the brand in control of where they are going to appear…it reduces the advertising barrier to enter the e-mail channel," he said.

Over the years, e-mail marketers have had limited options for updating advertising creative. "Once a message is sent, there is no way to recall it or change it," Miller explained in an e-mail interview with ClickZ News. "You can change only the images by serving an alternate image from the same link. Many email broadcast vendors can host and dynamically place alternate images, which is used to change the offer when a sale ends, for example."

She said Microsoft and Yahoo appear to be taking a technically different approach to solve the same problem. These companies have tested "active inbox" features, where they change the entire message at the subscriber inbox. 8Seconds, a Belgium company, offers another approach to optimize images that e-mail recipients see: the first recipients see varied ad creative and then, based on recipients' clicking behavior, the system identifies the most successful content and sends that to subsequent recipients.


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Anna Maria Virzi

Anna Maria Virzi, ClickZ's executive editor from 2007 until 2012, covered Internet business and technology since 1996. She was on the launch team for Ziff Davis Media's Baseline and also worked at Forbes.com, Web Week, Internet World, and the Connecticut Post.

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