ATG intros new Web development tools

Art Technology Group Inc. (ATG) is adding a pair of tools to its Web development suite designed, respectively, to provide online customer service to consumers and to help companies fine-tune their online marketing initiatives.

The ATG Campaign Optimizer lets companies test the effectiveness of a variety of online promotions, product pricing and Web page formats to see what yields better results. Meanwhile, ATG Adaptive Customer Assistance is an engine that generates answers to questions customers pose via a vendor’s Web site, the Cambridge, Mass-based vendor said.

The two new products are like “icing on the cake” for ATG user Vince Vachio, director of e-business at Newell Rubbermaid Inc., a US$7.7 billion maker of housewares, office supplies and children’s products. “It’s very encouraging to see ATG coming out with these products. They really round our needs,” Vachio said.

Vachio and his team of about 20 staffers are responsible for creating and maintaining Newell Rubbermaid’s Web sites. The company at any given point has between 60 and 75 Web sites up and running, aimed at different audiences — consumers who buy the products, retailers that sell the products, suppliers and employees — and for different purposes, such as promoting a new product, supporting a marketing campaign, providing services to employees and conducting business-to-business transactions with suppliers and retailers.

For a little over three years, Vachio and his team have used ATG’s products to build and maintain Newell Rubbermaid’s Web sites. They have been happy because ATG’s products allow them to build a lot of personalization into the Web sites, he said. “When users log on to our portals, they get personalized content. We know who they are, so we can do more advanced marketing and communications to them,” he said.

The ATG Adaptive Customer Assistance product will allow Newell Rubbermaid to give its Web users “the next generation of customer service,” he said. Meanwhile, the ATG Adaptive Customer Assistance will let the company analyze the effectiveness of its Web sites and refine them accordingly in a much more sophisticated way than with the standard Web analytics tool Newell Rubbermaid uses today, he said. Vachio declined to name the Web analytics tool the company uses currently.

The ATG Adaptive Customer Assistance, which has to be run in conjunction with the existing ATG Adaptive Scenario Engine, features: a natural language search engine; an answer-building application to populate the answer and information bank; a feedback system to track the system’s effectiveness; and a repository integration interface that complements answers with customer-specific data grabbed from various enterprise applications.

The ATG Campaign Optimizer, which has to be run in conjunction with the existing ATG Commerce Package, has a set of features that includes slot testing to rotate products, ads and promotions on a Web page to determine the most effective format; promotion testing to test multiple promotions and determine which one generates more traffic; and location testing to test the most effective placing on a page for specific content and features.

Both products are expected to ship before the end of March. Pricing information wasn’t available.

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