WebSideStory launches university for online marketing

Online marketers need to do a better job of tracking campaigns they launch on the Internet, so WebSideStory is starting an educational program to teach that skill.

The Web analytics provider on Tuesday announced its Digital Marketing University, with classes aimed at employees and executives from e-commerce, media, support and lead-generation companies. Classes will focus on how to effectively track responses to marketing campaigns, said Pelin Wood, vice president of product marketing. The first classes will coincide with the company's biannual user forum on April 28 at its headquarters in San Diego.

A lot of Internet technology available today isn't properly used to improve online marketing, said Erik Bratt, the company's director of corporate communications. "Page-tag and cookies programs track Web site visitor behavior through methodology based on quick-stream and funnel analysis, and from this we can see how people travel through Web sites," Bratt said. By utilizing such technology, companies can understand user behavior on their Web sites and target what their customers are looking at, when they are looking at it and what sites they are coming from.

Besides user behavior analysis, there are many underused online marketing tools, like frequency capping and interactive advertisements, said Jim Nail, principal analyst at Forrester Research. Frequency capping allows marketers to set a parameter on online advertisements limiting the number of times a single user will encounter an ad. This ensures that an advertisement will not be overexposed, and therefore diminish its effectiveness, said Nail.

Additionally, interactive ads have shown a high success rate. "Interactivity of ads is underused right now -- the hottest thing right now is video, because it's more like TV, which people are used to," he said.

Many marketers are not using video advertising online in the most effective way, research has shown. While many companies use the same 30-second advertisement on both TV and online, analysts warn that TV ads do not translate well to the internet, and the result is an ineffective ad.

"Thirty seconds is an eternity online, so you need to be shorter, get to the point, move on," Nail said. Marketers are also warned to stay away from using pop-up advertisements, which are seeing a decrease in clicking-rate effectiveness due to the widespread use of blocking programs.

Such lessons are likely to be part of the Digital Marketing University, which is having its curriculum developed. The classes will aim to lead online marketers to better decisions about their campaigns and to better customer analysis, WebSideStory spokespeople said.

Classes at first will be available to current customers of WebSideStory's analysis and reporting services, but will be expanded to non-customers by the second quarter of this year and go online by the fourth quarter. The company plans to expand the courses it offers in the future.

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