For the past 22 years, Marketing Management Analytics (MMA) has been helping clients understand how to better measure, attribute and allocate their online and offline ad dollars. Doug Brooks, MMA’s global executive vice president, spoke with eMarketer’s Lauren Fisher about current trends and challenges associated with multichannel marketing measurement.
eMarketer: What do you think is the biggest challenge marketers face today with multichannel marketing?
Doug Brooks: Most companies have a group of media planners or a marketing department that has been doing traditional media for a very long time, and they have set metrics, set data and set ways of planning. Apart from that, they also have a digital group that is using newer metrics and newer ways of planning digital.
“The problem is if you measure [channel-specific tactics] in isolation, they don’t account for the fact that they work together.”
The heart and soul of marketing is targeting strategy, and when it comes to digital advertising, that strategy is increasingly data-driven and algorithm-based. Compared with traditional media, digital advertising has the advantages of targeting/personalization, precise performance metrics, and much greater flexibility in terms of reach and cost. These differences also spark two dramatically different views of advertising strategies like two dueling gunfighters in the Wild West.
In the east corner is the shotgun approach: let’s take advantage of the Web’s abundance of low-cost ad impressions and canvas the Web until we land on enough interested users to cover the cost. This is also known as cookie bombing.
In the west corner is the modern day sharpshooter: if the average response rate is around one basis point, only highly-targeted, well-placed ad messages can get the job done effectively. It’s a targeted approach with a well-researched plan (by strategically analyzing data to effectively drive performance), and no collateral damage.
How can something with such tasty connotations be such a source of distaste?
Cookie deletion has long been a blight on digital campaigns, skewing conversion tracking and affecting the validity of reach and frequency metrics. It’s a boundless, borderless issue that affects our industry the world-over (for a breakdown of cookies and how they work, see this recent story on ClickZ Asia).
A recent industry analysis from comScore puts it in sharp perspective: as outlined in its new report, the research group found that current cookie measurement systems overstate the number of users by over 2.5 times. The study looked at a first-party cookie from Yahoo and a third-party ad server persistent cookie from DoubleClick as served to the Australian Internet population to determine the degree to which Internet users were deleting their cookies and causing publishers to deposit new ones.
Several startups are experimenting with technologies that could completely overhaul the way connected devices are targeted and tracked.
Using new products from companies like BlueCava and Ringleader Digital, advertisers will be able to link and track individual consumers on their mobile phones, desktop PCs, tablet devices, games consoles, TVs – even their cars – and serve them ads based on activity across those devices.
They will do so using a process often referred to as device fingerprinting, an emerging device identification technique which could eventually replace the cornerstone of online measurement and data collection, the cookie.
When a connected device accesses content or services, it transmits bits of information about its properties and settings. For example, a smartphone might communicate details of which operating system and browser versions it’s running, its time zone, and which carrier network it’s using, to name but a few.
Budgets are rising, but integrating social media into overall strategies is still a challenge
Over the next several years, social media spending will become a bigger percentage of companies’ overall marketing budgets. Yet CMOs report there are still challenges when it comes to integrating social media into their overall business strategies.
The American Marketing Association and Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business surveyed more than 400 top marketers for the February 2011 CMO Survey. They reported that over the next 12 months, social media spending will jump to 9.8% of marketing budgets, up from the current level of 5.6%. In the next five years, that percentage will increase to 18.1%.
There are four mandates that companies are adopting when they are examining and analyzing the success of their online marketing and social media programs. I recently gave a presentation to the Measured Marketing Roundtable at Techpoint, Indiana’s technology and economic development association, that outlines these new metric must-dos.
We’ve been pretty vocal over the past couple of years about how marketers should define success in social media and (perhaps more importantly) how they shouldn’t define success. To put it bluntly, if you’re focusing on fans and followers then you’re almost certainly doing it wrong.
But saying that raises the question: If the number of fans or followers you have doesn’t tell us whether you’ve succeeded as a company, then what does it tell you? And if your CEO shouldn’t be worried about the number of wall posts you’ve generated, then who should be paying attention to this number?
Since last summer, I’ve been using a structured model to help my clients focus on delivering the right social media marketing data to various stakeholders inside their organization. Social media programs throw off so much data that the key to measuring and managing your programs well is focusing each stakeholder on just the pieces of data that are relevant to helping them do their jobs. If part of your job is measuring the success of your social media marketing programs then you need to start segmenting the stakeholder groups you’re providing that data to, and tailoring the type of metrics, the volume of metrics, and the frequency of reporting you provide them.
Marketers (and many publishers) are wrestling with the problem of cross-channel attribution: understanding what each channel adds to the entire process.
Producing a breadcrumb trail of user paths is too simplistic. The real key is understanding the incremental effect of each unit of media.
“Why do birds suddenly appear,” mused songstress Karen Carpenter, “every time you are near?”
Her hypothesis: that they, like her, wanted to be close to you, is a pretty decent description of the way most online marketing is tracked.
Last click tracking, for a publisher or a media manager, means having your channel as close as possible to the final conversion. There have been winners in this method, notably search and some affiliates, and losers, such as display.
The good news about the Federal Trade Commission’s recent proposal for a Do-Not-Track mechanism is that it could give Web users much needed control over their online data. The bad news: That same proposal threatens to disrupt the delicate value-exchange that’s still emerging between Internet users and content publishers.
In December, when the FTC unveiled its do-not-track proposal as part of a comprehensive privacy report, it asked for public comments on the document.
This morning, ClickZ submitted feedback on behalf of its readers. The document we sent the FTC summarizes the observations of 17 readers, contributors, and experts regarding the feasibility and potential impact of such a mechanism. It was supplemented with our own extensive reporting on online ad tracking, and the industry’s self-regulation efforts.
Interested readers can download our feedback to the FTC in .pdf form at this link. Among the key points: