BrainTrust Query: Are Marketers and Media Getting That Synching Feeling?
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is an excerpt of an article from the Joel Rubinson on Marketing Research blog.
The digital clickstream is at the heart of how digital marketing works. When a digital ad impression is served, it places a cookie on the browser that can then be matched to a conversion pixel if that same user buys the advertised brand online. This worked fine when 90 percent or more of internet activity was on the computer. But now, people use multiple screens. As behaviors occur on one screen and transactions on another, it will falsely appear that computer, tablet and smartphone marketing have little effect at driving sales.
The fact is consumers are developing multi-screen media habits that we no longer have the data infrastructure to even understand.
Consider a hypothetical example. Someone uses their computer to search Google for "weekend in Paris," then visits a specialty travel recommendations site, then Googles American airlines and, finally, books the trip on aa.com. However, the user also clicked a display ad link for Trip Advisor on their tablet, searched for flights on the Kayak app on their business smartphone, and Shazammed a commercial that took them to expedia.com on their personal smartphone. Analyzing the computer clickstream would falsely give computer-based search most of the credit. If we look at tablet or smartphone activity, we miss the purchase altogether.
Certain marketing initiatives will become much more important because they help to solve this problem. They not only produce marketing results, they yield data dividends that re-establish knowledge of how brands can efficiently and effectively connect with people in a multi-screen era. Here are two examples of what I mean by this:
Create log-in brand communities across screens. Retailers can induce shoppers to sign up for a loyalty and rewards program that requires a log-in from each screen and use of a card or mobile ID when shopping. This will synch computer, tablet, smartphone (including branded app), frequent shopper data, and a whole bunch of third party databases via e-mail or physical address match. With permission granted, insights can be gained from that customer’s Facebook and/or Twitter profiles. TV viewing can even be synched if that person has certain service providers or is a Tivo household. Coca-Cola’s MyCoke rewards program shows how brands can do this. The research possibilities that come from profiling, surveying, and analyzing clickstream behaviors of such branded communities are mind-boggling.
Research companies begin creating multi-screen tracking. Recruited panels are doing this where people give their permission to have their media behaviors monitored or by anonymized matching of data across big, exhaustive customer files. Both approaches are emerging.
Marketing organizations need to find ways to measure, integrate, and synch all digital behaviors across the screens people choose to use to establish customer understanding. Oh, and please no "lip-synching" — telling everyone how important mobile is without actually putting a plan in place to measure it.
Does online commerce have a serious measurement problem? What solutions do you see for how online shoppers’ paths to purchase can be collected across multiple screens?