DoubleClick Beefs Up DARTmail

Online ad technology and network player DoubleClick is rolling out an enhanced version of its DARTmail email ASP, designed to help clients better leverage their consumer data.

New elements of the DARTmail 3.5 upgrade center on tools that provide advertisers and publishers more advanced customer segmentation tools, translating into better-targeted (and ideally, more effective) mailings.

Specifically, marketers using DARTmail can segment customers based on demographic, interest and behavioral data — such as whether recipients made a purchase after receiving an email. The system also integrates with offline databases, enabling marketers to tailor online mailings to real-world activity. Campaign results reporting, too, can be joined with offline records.

“DARTmail 3.5 now offers marketers a robust email solution to seamlessly integrate their own offline demographic data with email response data for a complete view of the customer, which in turn allows them to improve response rates for future mailings,” said DoubleClick’s Court Cunningham, who is vice president and general manager of DARTmail Technology Solutions at the New York-based firm.

The new version also includes built-in merge/purge features, which help clients avoid accidents like duplicate mailings, which can annoy recipients. Previously, DARTmail users had to rely on a third-party offering.

Additionally, the enhanced DARTmail includes automatic detection and support for various email client formats. For instance, DARTmail 3.5 now distinguishes between AOL 6.0+ and earlier AOL clients, and automatically delivers the appropriate message format.

DoubleClick said the suite of upgrades represented DARTmail’s most important changes since its launch in October 2000.

The enhancements comes as part of DoubleClick’s expanded efforts to add data integration capabilities to its products. For instance, the new version of its online ad server, DART, includes support for XML — theoretically letting users sync the server to customer databases. Its offline subsidiary Abacus also offers a tool for clients to integrate campaign data from multiple channels.

Behind DoubleClick’s moves lie a greater, industry-wide push to encourage cash-strapped marketers to spend money online. One way is through cross-media integration capabilities, which help multi-channel marketers derive a better return on investment from online tools, and better capitalize on the business of multi-channel customers — who in many cases are more valuable than single-channel buyers.

Other players expanding their database integration and customer segmentation abilities include Responsys and Tacoda Systems.

Online ad firms also are seeking ways to increase the efficacy of email marketing, as rising levels of unwanted mail cuts at the medium’s credibility with consumers. In addition to targeting and merge/purge tools — designed to keep a tight reign on campaign quality control — some marketing players are getting behind the idea of industry and legal standards to stamp out spam.

The Direct Marketing Association, for instance, recently introduced guidelines designed to curb unwanted email (though critics charge that the rules are too weak to be effective). Last month, nonprofit group TRUSTe, working with consultancy ePrivacy Group and industry testers including DoubleClick, unveiled a seal of approval for email messages, which guarantees that a sender isn’t spamming and that it provides support for opting out.

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