The brick and mortar dilemma
No matter how effective the Hulu ad for it may be, it’s unlikely that anyone is going to buy the 2013 Dodge RAM 1500 online. Despite the continual growth of e-commerce, 9 in every 10 retail dollars are still spent offline. For brands where a significant portion of sales occurs in brick and mortar stores, how can marketers measure the effectiveness of their online campaigns? Unlike their counterparts at online-only outfits such as Zappos and Netflix, marketers with offline conversions can’t fire a conversion pixel in a showroom or at the counter.
While online marketers have long benefited from the insights of clickstream attribution, brands that handle offline transactions are still figuratively in the “dark ages”. Marketers are forced to treat ‘online’ as a monolithic channel together with their TV and Direct Mail advertising, relying on mysterious formulas to perform attribution on each channel in isolation (read more on the pitfalls of swim-lane measurement). A/B testing, control groups and other basic tools that have been available online for years can’t be used when conversions happen offline. Did a customer get the latest Samsung Android phone because they saw the quirky YouTube ad or was it the display campaign? Samsung can’t answer that question without integrating offline data into their attribution model.
Offline attribution – a cutting-edge tool that helps unify offline and online data – brings marketers closer to having a comprehensive overview of their campaign’s performance across all marketing channels.
How offline attribution works
Offline attribution is an extension of data onboarding, and some onboarders now integrate with attribution platforms like Adometry and Convertro to offer the solution in an interface familiar to marketers. How does it work? Let’s say John bought a new cardigan at Banana Republic after seeing a retargeting ad. John’s purchase can be attributed to the ad by “onboarding” the in-store transaction information, tying it to his ad impressions, and completing the attribution cycle – the marketer has access to the complete trail of events from impression to purchase. To onboard offline data, the marketer should have access to email or postal data tied to the in-store transaction. Most retailers can tie purchases to an email or postal address via loyalty cards and similar programs. Companies like Korrelate are building powerful tools to use offline data in attribution.
With offline attribution, in-store transactions become just another data point in your existing stream of events, alongside ad impressions and online conversions. Price, SKU, and other transaction attributes can be accessible in your measurement or advertising platform of choice. Next time your boss claims that YouTube is more effective than display at driving customers to your local branch, you can finally let the data decide.
Accuracy in Attribution
You may want to advertise your new 3D TV to all residents of a particular neighborhood, but you can’t assume that an ad impression one resident saw is responsible for the purchasing decision of their neighbor two blocks down. Make sure your attribution partner uses individual or household-level attribution. Advertise broadly; attribute narrowly.
Why you should get serious about offline attribution
- For most companies, the vast majority of sales still happen offline. In fact, online interactions drive more revenue offline than they do online. There is no guarantee that ads that drive online conversions are good for offline conversions, especially if you optimize for clicks.
- Offline attribution makes A/B and control group testing possible even when transactions happen in-store.
- Offline attribution lets you measure real ROI of online advertising by accurately attributing transactions to the customer’s online interaction with your campaigns – so you can correctly reallocate your spending to reward better performing campaigns and avoid the pitfall of overvaluing mass media campaigns.
If you are serious about analytics and you sell in brick and mortar stores, you should be serious about offline attribution. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can get you started with data onboarding and attribution.