Transparency will drive publishers to create a better experience for consumers visiting their site, but it will also force platform companies like Marin Software, Kenshoo and ReachLocal to increase investments in research and development. It takes financial investments to build features to keep companies honest, arming brands with the data to attribute the correct media to the sale.
Marin on Monday will make Channel Connect available to advertisers that want to incorporate data from multiple publishers. The company is building the platform to give advertisers a better sense of which media -- including mobile, search, social, video or display -- will give them the best return on investment.
In the first six months of 2013, Marin invested $9.9 million on research and development -- up from $6 million in the year-ago months from January through June 2012, according to the company's U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission 10Q filing.
Most marketers are eager to advertise across multiple channels, including networks like AdMarketplace, but lack the time or resources to launch new campaigns. Among the benefits are automating systems. In Marin's case, the platform automates URL revenue tracking -- allowing marketers to launch, manage and optimize campaigns on new channels. Adlux, adMarketplace, AOL, BrightEdge, Conductor, Ask.com-company Sendori, and Yandex are among the certified partners.
As online advertising becomes one transparent marketplace, publishers will be valued for the ROI they deliver to advertisers, says Matt Ackley, Marin CMO. "Publishers will need to invest more in ad products that deliver advertisers true performance," he said.
Marin isn't the only company investing more in product development. Kenshoo invests about half its total operating expenses into research and development, per Aaron Goldman, the company's CMO. More than half of the company's 400 employees focus on technology, R&D and platform infrastructure.
ReachLocal, which supports mostly small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to help them be discovered online, will release on Monday the platform ReachEdge, part of the company's marketing and commerce software-as-a-service suite of products. "For every 1,000 visitors only 70 will contact you, about 21 will turn into a lead, and six into customers," says Kris Barton, ReachLocal chief product officer. "The platform helps marketers keep customers they find."
The company has invested in building the automated marketing system ReachEdge to help marketers optimize campaigns for smartphones and tablets, customize content creation, and support advanced capture technology for tracking phone numbers, including automatic contact information capture.