Commentary Implements Ad Targeting Technology

U.S. mothers who had little girls during the 1990s remember the Laura Ashley clothing line. I do. In fact, I still have a mother and daughter matching outfit tucked away as a keepsake in the tall dresser in my bedroom. The 100% cotton outfits, soft and cozy, still remind me of the days when my now-grown daughter spent more time with me then online looking at ads and chatting with friends.

Similar to my daughter, most of Laura Ashley's fashion and home stores have moved online, specifically those in the United States. The U.S. boutique stores, such as the one near me South Coast Plaza, closed. In July 1999, an investor team completed the buy-out of the 94 Laura Ashley stores in the United States and Canada from Laura Ashley Holdings, the publicly traded British parent company.

Earlier this month, Laura Ashley announced it had signed a deal with TagMan to implement behavioral targeting technology at



The TagMan system enables ad tracking tags on a site to be housed and managed through one tag. Laura Ashley will use the technology to reveal the click path of customers purchasing items on the site. The system aims to make campaigns easier to implement and for commission payments to be attributed with greater accuracy

Before making the deal, the company's strategists researched the technology, which meant talking with other marketing professional and similar brands, attending conferences and searching online for information.

"The Tagman name came up on natural search results with the articles on how to save the marketing budget through last-click reporting and other attribution models," says a Laura Ashley spokeswoman. (Thank goodness for search engine optimization.) "It has been almost half a year since our initial research."

The biggest benefit is the "accurate tracking" of various marketing campaigns for impressions, clicks and sales, she says. The one-tag process also reduces the time required to set up a new campaign in Tagman. benefit from the conversion path reports for each order and the reports for keywords used to search for the company's products through natural and paid search. Considerable savings in time and marketing budgets made the technology cost worth it, she says.

Marketers get what they pay for. A study released by the Network Advertising Initiative Wednesday reveals ads targeted by prior Web-surfing behavior can become more valuable and yield higher sales than typical ads. Although the report cautions only five out of 12 ad networks provided data on that point, the conversion rate among users who clicked on a targeted ad was 6.8%, compared to 2.8% for typical ads.

Targeting isn't cheap. The CPM price for behaviorally targeted ads rose to $4.12, up from $1.98 for typical ads.'s  implementation of the Tagman system wasn't challenging, but  took around two months, according to the spokeswoman.  "Most of this time was spent adding TagMan holders, or containers, on the site, gathering retargeting and conversion tags from our online partners and setting up the click and through tags to use for the campaign."

It is the first time has used this type of technology. "We reviewed the results after three months of the relationship and decided to go ahead with a year's contract," she explains.

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