Blackfoot: Reporting Ease

The online medium is a results-driven business. Intended results vary for different campaigns, of course, but all campaigns are created with a customer action in mind; an impression, a click, or a transaction. Once we get results, we’ve got to show those results. And that means reporting. Reporting on performance by site and placement. By keyword and creative execution. Statistical modeling. The list goes on.

Reporting and modeling can be time intensive. If you’re an aggressive online advertiser, you want to show results and react to them. Your client wants you to act on them. Chances are, you pull and organize reports frequently, perhaps even daily. Considering some efforts can have dozens of creative executions, hundreds of sites, and thousands of sections, reports can be a nightmare. Even monthly reports at a high level of sophistication can become monsters.

Many interactive media departments have become whizzes at pulling reports from in-house systems and various third-party ad-serving solutions. Some moved to data feeds from third-party ad servers to save time. Honing skills in spreadsheets with macros and pivot tables has made the job somewhat easier. And for a few lucky agencies, analytical software solutions have been implemented with some success. For many others, reporting is simply overwhelming.

If only there were a tool available that could help…

Enter Blackfoot

Blackfoot is a relatively new company specializing in helping agencies, advertisers, and publishers aggregate and organize marketing data, even from disparate sources. This makes Blackfoot an extremely attractive potential partner if your search marketing is handled by one agency using DoubleClick for performance tracking; online advertising is at another agency using Atlas; and email management happens at yet another company. Even if you just have one source for all your data streams, trying to manage sophisticated reports and analysis in house can be inefficient.

Blackfoot is partnered with a company called Theorem. Blackfoot handles sales and marketing, account management, and consulting. Theorem handles data collection and trafficking. Together, they offer a really great Web-based solution that can increase your efficiency, improve campaign performance, and reduce human error in campaign performance tracking and analysis.

I spoke with Martin Wesley, president and founder of Blackfoot, about what his company can offer.

“Many agencies spend a majority of their staff time on low-value functions, like collection, cleansing, and normalization of data, sometimes from different sources,” Wesley said. “This leaves little time for the high-value functions, like determining optimal reach and frequency and deciding the best mix of branding versus direct response.”

Blackfoot allows agencies to focus on those high-value functions. Instead of spending four hours generating a report, you can take the time to study that report and make informed recommendations for your client.

Features

Some tasks Blackfoot and Theorem make easier for online marketers:

  • Generate standard reports. Track performance by site, section, creative, keyword, and more. These are the same type of reports you receive from a third party in its standard tool. However, Blackfoot and Theorem can also use daily site feeds (when provided) to get more accurate cost data, instead of using ad-serving numbers. They also color code the data presentation, which allows an agency to provide optimization recommendations even more quickly.

  • Customize reports. Easily take any standard report and slice the data in all kinds of ways. You can, for example, pull only those placements that fall within certain performance parameters. You can also generate reports that look specifically at things such as time lag and site frequency-to-conversion metrics.
  • Do statistical modeling and algorithms. You don’t need to be a statistician (thank goodness) to use this system. Point-and-click wizards allow you to run segmentation, correlation, and predictive models in no time.
  • Create charts. A variety of graphs are offered. Toggle between pie charts, bar charts, and line graphs to determine which format best illustrates your point.

All reports can be saved and exported to PDF, Excel, or HTML formats. In addition, reports can be emailed directly to you and your clients on a predetermined basis.

Have you used Blackfoot and Theorem or a similar system in your business? If so, I’d love to hear about your experiences.

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