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Editor's note: Learn how to put your data to work for your cloud, BPM, MDM, and SOA projects right here.

Media departments are no place for guessing. With millions -- even tens or hundreds of millions -- of dollars at stake, clients want hard data showing that their budgets are being well spent.

And yet for too long, media executives have been forced to rely on indirect information to judge a campaign's post-buy effectiveness. If sales or awareness goes up, things must be working (even though dozens of non-advertising factors affect such measurements).  If all GRP goals are fulfilled, the spend is a success (even though it only proves people saw the ads).

To be sure, all these metrics are important. But to complete the picture, it's critical to look at what advertising is meant to impact: consumer behavior. And thanks to the world of cross-media analytics tools, reliable measures finally exist that can calculate true payback of media investments.

In the new world of media analytics, online and offline data are married to create an amazingly accurate picture of what a campaign is accomplishing. Everything from site analytics and competitive media buys to ad server stats and CRM to store sales information and traditional ratings results is integrated with the agency's media purchase data to create multi-source insight into campaign effectiveness.

Dedicated analytics products now exist that let researchers and planners not only evaluate campaigns post-buy, but also monitor them as they unfold using near real-time data. What's more, the same information can be used to model alternatives, demo hypothetical buys, and make changes midstream if a campaign isn't reaching objectives.

Because they are a direct measure of consumer interest, Web analytics play a key role in the new cross-analytics paradigm. But it's not enough to look solely at the client's Web site activity; additional measures need to be included. 

As many as 10 to 20 discrete data sources may be needed to generate the insights necessary to make effective changes.  Additionally, in order to evaluate and determine the drivers of consumer activity within the media mix, advertisers need access to granular data across disparate systems to formulate a perspective on creative and messaging effectiveness.

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