In recent years, as Internet marketing has leapt ahead again and again in terms of new ways to reach consumers, marketers have had to keep up with and learn a host of new technologies.

It is a testament to our flexibility and innovation that we have been able to conceptualize, use and ultimately measure such a variety of different tools – email, search marketing, site search, ad serving, and now Web 2.0 tools, for example – in such a relatively short amount of time.

Such multi-channel marketing strategies have allowed us to understand purchasing habits, to reach our prospects when and where they want to be reached, and to better engage with customers.

But as we’ve rushed to create and implement such a variety of multi-channel tactics, something has occurred that has made it difficult for us to integrate and understand the overall effectiveness of each of the channels: because interactive media is in constant growth, there has, as of yet, been no industry standardization in terms of measurement. That means that interactive marketers have had to work with a variety of technologies and service providers to create order across programs.

This leads to marketers using one set of metrics to look at search marketing, another to look at purchase data, another for email marketing, and yet another for Web 2.0 technologies like social media or video.

The result is a fragmented discipline that has marketers looking at stats from a variety of vendors, trying to compare apples to oranges. Often, in spite of the tremendous strides we have made in reaching new customers, we are left pulling our hair out in frustration.

A recent study by Forrester Research suggests that there is hope for frustrated marketers. Now is the time for the industry to move toward an “online marketing suite,” the report suggests. Such a suite, underpinned by a central hub, “is the eventual destiny for all online marketing technology and will enable a single view of the customer across channels, provide process tools to support collaboration, centralize optimization and support a partner ecosystem,” according to the authors (Suresh Vittal and Shar VanBoskirk) of the study.

The Forrester report explains that today’s solutions for managing interactive marketing across channels fall short for a number of reasons. Enterprise marketing suites lack Web expertise. Current offerings from vendors like Oracle and Unica automate marketing processes through expensive campaign management and marketing resource management applications that need extensive IT support and aren’t tailored to interactive marketers. Specialists, on the other hand, are too focused.

Marketers need a new technology framework to fill interactive marketing’s technology and process shortcomings. Such a framework would lead to interactive marketing organizations finally owning a set of skills standardized around technology, analytics and strategic planning, leading to better accountability and simpler processes. In fact, an online marketing suite – one which supports the end-to-end interactive marketing process from planning through execution and optimization – is inevitable, the report predicts.

I got really excited when I first read the Forrester report on online marketing integration, because it jibes so well with what we at Omniture are doing with Omniture Genesis. Genesis is a product designed to reduce complexity by automating the integration of marketing tools into the Omniture Online Business Optimization Platform. By integrating tools and understanding their impact upon one another, marketing ROI is subsequently increased.

Genesis offers cross-channel, cross-application dashboards that provide marketers with a holistic view needed to measure performance and optimize campaigns across the marketing mix. In this way, marketers can stop comparing apples to oranges and begin to truly understand the sum of the parts.

In upcoming weeks, I plan to launch a series of interviews with some of our 140+ Genesis partners who can share what they’re seeing in trends in terms of integration, the best practices they have identified, and other ideas on the topic. They’ll talk about what it is like to no longer have to sift through disparate reporting systems to make strategic differences, and how that has had an affect on ROI.

Marketers are under more pressure than ever to prove return on investment for their online marketing spend. Advertising spend on the internet is on the rise, up by 30 percent to $12.6 billion, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau. Understanding the value of marketing efforts has never been more important, particularly now, as the cost of investing in new Web 2.0 applications – RSS feeds, blogs, social networking, etc. – is so significant.

Check back in the next week or so for the first interview in the series with with Peter McCormick, Co-Founder and Vice President, Partnerships for ExactTarget. In the meantime, click here to download the Forrester report, Defining the Online Marketing Suite, by Suresh Vittal. And if you have any questions about Genesis, or want to pose some questions of your own to the Genesis partners we will be interviewing, please let us know.