Monday, December 17, 2007

Keeping Eyes on the Road - Nucleus' Marketing Dashboard


Pondering once again on how agencies are battling for ownership in the digital world, I caught up with Chris Van Buskirk, VP of Consulting Services and Co-Founder of Net-Ways to learn more about dashboards and how they will play a major role in capturing ROI, operational complexities and ultimately, client satisfaction.

Net-Ways launched their Nucleus product in 2003. Originally focused on managing client side marketing activity, the product has come a long way to centralize marketing intelligence for big brands like Dell, Mars, Nestlewaters, Quick, Gefco, Kia, Printemps, and Carrefour France. The 2007 version allows marketers to centralize all marketing activity making it accessible to multiple layers of management as well as outside agencies. The system captures marketing budgets, strategies, correspondence and any related data and works as a flexible intranet with on the fly reporting helping to flatten the world of international marketing powerhouses.

To date, marketing initiatives have been for the most part, handled manually. It seems that every new Marketing Director enters their role with a “system” (usually an excel spreadsheet) to manage budgets, create media blocking charts and measure return on investment. The reality today is that the average tenure of a Marketing Director is 18 months making it near impossible to streamline historical data and optimize media activity through historical data.

The use of MOMs (Marketing Operations Management), MRMs (Marketing Resource Management), EMMs (Enterprise Marketing Management and DAMs (Digital Asset Management) is not necessarily new. With major players like Unica and Aprimo competing in the space, the advancements are fast moving.

The difficulty in the past has been the ease of use and customization of the systems. Taking the time to map out workflow and adopting new processes for well-established brands is difficult and expensive. As opposed to its competitors, Nucleus was built from the ground up as an ASP making the implementation and customization quicker and more intuitive. Although every business has different structures and requirements, these advantages have gone a long way to positioning Nucleus as a leader in its field.

Chris alluded to the value he is able to generate for his clients. The ability to optimize globally and to gain insight into performance on an extremely focused basis is well worth the investment. I was taken through a demo that showed the ability to measure the performance of initiatives on a number of levels. The ability to see highly effective direct mail campaigns by product, by market, by target and by individual brand manager are only a few of the obvious benefits to consolidating marketing intelligence. APIs can capture online media, unique phone numbers and any other measurable media.

Perhaps one of the most interesting developments is the system’s ability to services franchisee and agent networks. An example of this is in the use of the web-based system for Quick, a Belgian restaurant chain that has implemented the system and uses it to give local franchisees the ability to access existing media campaigns so that they can customize the messages and translate from French to Flemish and vice versa. After customizing their print campaigns, they are given high-resolution professional grade, ready-for-print files to execute in their local markets. This localized activity is later tied back to the centralized sales performance plan. Chris says that this is only the tip of the iceberg. As video becomes mainstream in the local landscape, the API is set to handle TV spots as well as any other rich media applications.

The biggest challenge faced by all providers in this space is the adoption of the new system. As with any other technology, it’s only as good as the user’s ability to harness it’s full potential. Changing the way large corporations think about performance driven marketing is one thing but changing habits is a whole other story.

Centralizing fragmented activity is the name of the game. It’s clear that implementation of a MOM, MRM, EMM, DAM or any combination of said acronyms, is the direction marketers need to move in to get an edge of performance based marketing. With large brands coming on board, we may see a major shift in agency adoption of one or a number of systems.

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