By Mike Ricci, vice president of digital and product marketing at Webtrends.

Thanks to Oreo’s Super Bowl #DunkInTheDark tweet, Taco Bell’s Rockumentary at SXSW, and some short, but eye-catching brand-to-brand Twitter combat (check out the banter between Orbitz and Priceline), real-time marketing has become the hot new trend. Socially savvy brands are turning the heads of marketers, media and consumers alike with their smart, bold campaigns that seem to be put together at lightning speed.

With all this real-time marketing buzz, we’re expecting to see brands attempt to jump on the real-time bandwagon. We saw this happen with social and mobile – marketers started haphazardly throwing resources out to every social media channel and then a few years later decided that they needed an app for everything.

But before we sit back and wait for a flurry of failed campaigns, we should note that a large group of today’s marketers are light years ahead of where they were a few years ago.

We’re seeing that the top digital marketers, especially those having success in the real-time marketing arena, are putting measurement front and center.  In fact, according to a study featured on eMarketer, 68 percent surveyed said they plan to increase their data-related marketing spending in 2013. Measurement needs to be the core of any digital marketing effort and the smart brands pushing out successful real-time campaigns understand this.

Signs of Marketing Sophistication

When the more sophisticated brands we work with dig into their mobile analytics, for example, they’re talking about more than just app downloads. They’re noticing the explosive growth in tablet-driven traffic, and finding that increasing amounts of their overall revenue is stemming from these devices.

Along the same lines, sophisticated brands understand that harnessing social data is paramount. Leveraged correctly, social can create a direct dialogue with customers and provide brands with insights that will help them understand how to stay relevant.

In a recent Econsultancy study, brands identified some of the challenges that they face in getting a better handle on social measurement. To no great surprise, top of the list was a lack of tracking capabilities and analytics. The idea that social analytics are separate from multi-channel analytics and business intelligence was also one of the top challenges identified, showing that brands now understand the need for central, integrated measurement strategies.

Unified Measurement

The brands working through these measurement hurdles are light years ahead of their competition and have the necessary foundation in place to develop real-time marketing campaigns. Our clients at Reebok understand this and have long been a leader in this area.  A couple of years ago, we began working with Reebok to help their marketing team better understand what was unfolding in social. We created a powerful social monitoring center that kept marketers close to key performance indicators for their Facebook, Twitter and YouTube marketing initiatives and helped them better understand brand sentiment and patterns coming out of that data. As the company re-launched the brand, the marketing team was focused intensely on how this change was discussed and reflected in social media. Reebok then used this data to better understand what content was resonating across its entire digital portfolio and optimize their digital advertising spend accordingly. Below is the first generation of the dashboard we created for Reebok and across the top you’ll see that the navigation allows for rapid access to all key channels (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, microsites, and social listening) and all of the KPIs that truly matter for those channels.

Reebok, like many others, is serious about harnessing mobile and social data and has developed integrated measurement systems that inform marketing decisions – especially those made in real-time. In fact, Mondelez International, Oreo’s parent company, built an international network of measurement labs, dubbed “mPulse Lab,” that the marketing teams use to monitor and measure engagement. If you haven’t yet taken this step, you are not alone but you will be soon. If you have developed a measurement system, we applaud you, because you are amongst the enlightened new generation of digital marketers who understand that the proper use of analytics is fundamental to future success. We expect to see great things from you in the real-time marketing arena!

Also Read: Dunking in the Dark: the Technology Behind Oreo’s Super Bowl Tweet