Apr 08, 2011 (08:04 PM EDT)
IT And Marketing: How Digital Media's Changing The Relationship

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Modern marketers don't make emotional decisions in the kinds of boozy, smoke-filled rooms seen on Mad Men. They want some statistical assurances before they spend one red cent, for which they're relying on technology tools and expertise.

Here's the latest formula: Add social, mobile, Web, and email to conventional marketing channels, including print and broadcast advertising, billboards, telemarketing, and direct-mail campaigns. Target and test desired segments, like most-profitable customers. Measure results across all channels. Spend accordingly.

That's a gross simplification, and the basic approach isn't new. Marketers have been targeting, testing, and measuring direct mail and telemarketing for decades, and online advertising and email campaigns for a dozen years.

But there are new channels. Social networks, for example, have introduced direct customer interaction, and they're making it easier to measure broadcast campaigns. Agencies and advertisers, for example, now routinely monitor YouTube and Hulu activity to see which ads are most popular and which moments within those ads are being replayed. They also monitor Facebook and Twitter to get a sense of positive and negative sentiments. And the latest smartphones add the dimension of location awareness to Web and email advertising.

The thing that has changed most in recent years is that marketers want a more comprehensive, cross-channel examination of campaign results, and they expect more detailed analyses. It's now all about the data, so there are good employment prospects for IT pros who know how to manage and analyze that data. Some of the biggest IT vendors see this opportunity, and are snapping up marketing software specialists.

The bad news is that marketers are still frustrated by gaps in measurability across channels. And while they're trying to fill those gaps by buying software to manage and analyze advertising efforts, marketing execs don't necessarily trust their own IT departments to implement it.

It's high time for IT pros to be working more closely with their marketing colleagues to understand marketing's needs and goals. If IT can't deliver the requisite data management and analytic modeling, the work will end up moving to the marketing team or to a third-party service provider.

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