A Solution to the Marketing Attribution Challenge

The question of marketing attribution – primarily what’s working and what’s not – has plagued businesses and marketers for as long as there has been advertising. Companies know they need to spend money to advertise and promote their brands and products, but determining what media channel is driving the best results has always been a challenge. It’s been a challenge for more than 100 years; so, it’s unlikely we’ll solve it with one blog post. However, we have a few ideas we think will change the way you see marketing attribution and what’s possible with online and offline measurement.

Types of Advertising

Before we begin, let’s consider the two main types of advertising – awareness, and direct response. For the purposes of this post, we’ll define awareness as promotion of a brand, product, or offer without a measureable call-to-action, or CTA. An example of awareness advertising is launching a new product at a special price. Direct response advertising is defined as promotion of a product or offer with a specific CTA that rewards the consumer with an incentive to act. For example, a coupon that offers a $2 discount to try a new product. Both types of advertising can be part of an effective overall marketing strategy, which should have specific goals and success metrics.

An important part of an effective overall marketing strategy is the media mix and key metrics. Depending on your budget, a media mix today may include a mix of online digital advertising, including banner ads, online video, and more; social media advertising, on networks like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram; and offline advertising, as you would see on television, radio, or newspapers. The remainder of this post will focus on direct response advertising.

Media Mix of Channels

Marketing Attribution is Putting Pressure on Media Budgets

Over the past seven years, a flood of advertising dollars has been redirected from traditional media channels to digital or online media. One of the main reasons for this trend is the promise of marketing attribution – the ability for marketers to easily and effectively measure what they are getting in return for their precious advertising dollars. Terms like CPM (cost per 1,000 views) and CTR (click through rate – number of clicks on an ad) have become common for today’s digital marketer. The ability to track, measure, and retarget based on who has seen and interacted with an online ad is great – especially if the ads lead to a purchase that happens entirely online, such as with a flight or clothing purchase. However, most businesses still require customers to interact with them in the real world. In fact, 94% of retail purchases are still generated in store. Brick and mortar businesses are struggling to attribute online activities to offline transactions, breaking the marketing attribution promise.

Marketing Attribution in the Offline World

The two main problems with attribution in the offline world are humans and technology. Humans are unpredictable. For example, when a customer is redeeming a coupon, for it to be attributed, the employee must enter a promo code, push a special button, or scan the coupon at the POS. The problem is that sometimes they forget, enter the wrong information, or find a shortcut that fails to attribute the offer or results accurately. The other problem is technology. It is difficult for marketers who use traditional media to accurately measure how their ads are preforming.

In the past, traditional offline ad measurement was possible, but it took time to plan and track offers by market and channel. It also required unique IDs be assigned to the respective channels to ensure a consistent way to gather and measure the data. This took time and resources and often resulted in marketers forgoing that level of campaign reporting. However, that is all changing with the arrival of scanner technology and the capacity to generate millions of unique IDs that allow seamless reporting of online to offline attribution.

Closing the Attribution Loop

Quick Response (QR) barcodes enable marketers to program valuable information into the barcode image that can be read and provide information to employees at the POS, such as customer’s first name or loyalty status to enhance and personalize the guest experience. These codes then provide attribution data, including redemption and basket-level purchase details. Data related to the customer, offer, location and even channel can be integrated into the master customer data record or other business systems to measure the overall effectiveness of your marketing campaign and spend.

Marketing attribution in the offline world is finally catching up to what has been possible in the digital marketing arena for years. To learn more about what’s possible and how this technology is changing how marketers value attribution data, click here.

Zoë Dixon

Author Zoë Dixon

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