Reinventing Online Profilers
"What we learned as an agency we're using to build tools to serve the agency marketplace," he says. "We're using the technology that wrapped around our previous business. The biggest challenge to advertising is the inefficiency around media buying. There's a lack of uniformity in the industry."
So Burns is creating a standard system. "The problem that we're solving is to be able to communicate with many publishers and email providers simultaneously for our specific customer projects."
The standardization also makes it possible to use fewer people to do the same job. "Statistically, in the online marketing area it takes 10 times more people to make money than offline advertising," says Burns. "We started to look at our business to see how we compared. It did take a lot of people. Our new system saves the research and communication time. We can now plan more efficiently with fewer people."
And Burns says the Encino, California company has downsized to just 15 people, three of which serve clients that include Lucent Technologies, AT&T and Washington Mutual among others, directly. "We'll try to keep it that size while gaining more customers. We learned how hard it was to oversee five to six team members, all with different skills and disciplines to serve customers. And we've increased our business flow by 300-400% in the last 60 days. We're moving toward performance-based commerce, as is the industry."
The database of more than 10,000 websites and other providers are profiled through 85 variables which are matched to the needs of the customer. Those variables include provider type (search engine, email provider, portal, directory, etc.); media type (dedicated email, banners, cost per action, network, etc.); industry type; pricing options; B2C and B2B demos; and geo-targeting among others.
"The request for proposal (RFP) establishes the standards and we can communicate completely electronically, instead of phone calls, fax and email. The standard works for everyone because we looked at all the criteria. The real strength of the system is that it covers all the variables, all of the options for the buy or sale."
Burns says directSynergy MPS is ready to help the industry's growth toward more sophisticated processes including guaranteeing results, leads, sales, or registration, etc.
"This takes the fear out of buying online. There's no other central place to find all these providers. It's hard to grow a business when you don't have all the information on which to base your decisions," adds Burns.
In a sample scenario, say a large auto insurance carrier has a goal to generate 10,000 insurance quotes per month online. And those need to lead to 5,000 policies online per month. "We scan our database to match media providers to the targeting criteria, demographic and geographic criteria, search media planning database, ID providers that fit the criteria, launch a mass RFP to those media providers. They electronically respond (without people --all data driven based on the reliability of profiles which brings them straight to IO process)."
But take heart, the decision to buy still comes down to human interaction. "We make sure standards are met by providers, review responses and select the providers. The more business we're able to conduct this way, will help us build intelligence over time. We'll be able to look at all responses and do a better job of matching buyers/sellers. We plan to bring tracking data into the system to add even more intelligence, i.e. what happened with the campaign, how much sites are able to grow because of it, and all the stats around that which will add more value to the customer over time."
Burns says the company goal is to increase its business 10-fold while making the tools readily available to agencies and direct clients. "We'll have tools ready in a robust form by 2002 and will increase our business through licensing to the industry. We built the system out of direct client need and 75% of our client base is using the system. We're actively loading more intelligence into the database for the other 25%. Our B2B sector, for example, needs more info."