Over the last few years, marketing measurement—already a challenging task for advertisers—has been getting harder with policy changes to protect consumer data privacy. Take for example the recent “sky is falling” news of these limitations with headlines such as Apple Just Crippled IDFA, Sending An $80 Billion Industry Into Upheaval and IDFA Apocalypse: What We Know (And Don’t).
The Apple Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) helps digital marketers understand the performance of their mobile advertising programs. In the newest OS release, consumers are asked if they want to opt-in to this tracking versus being opted-in automatically as part of the standard iPhone terms and conditions as in previous versions. IDFA is effectively being replaced by SKAdNetwork which will help “advertisers measure the success of ad campaigns while maintaining user privacy.”
While the new system will not completely kill mobile tracking on Apple devices, according to a recent AdExchanger.com interview with the CEO and co-founder of mobile attribution company AppsFlyer, “There’s no view-through attribution and no information on impressions, creative, remarketing, in-app events, lookback windows, user lifetime value, ROI, retention or cohort analysis – advertisers will be practically blind.”
As I explained in my previous post, Marketing Measurement Was Already Hard When We Had Cookies, Now What? “tracking a full consumer path is critical for valid measurement.” The depreciation of IDFA makes that customer path tracking much harder than before for digital marketers.
Online/offline marketing measurement has been somewhat accepted as a blindspot
While online measurement goes through its evolution, the big blindspot that marketers have had for over twenty-years is the inability to understand the relationship between the two worlds of online and offline advertising investments. There have been some advances here, such as Facebook in-store tracking and coupon codes, but these are mainly isolated parts of the media program—which are helpful in specific situations—but still do not solve the bigger issue at hand.
Anecdotally, if you ask marketers about the online/offline measurement problem, many will tell you that they treat the problem with some complacency, concede that full attribution across the digital divide is simply something they will never really have, and have learned to simply accept this blindspot as something that they need to just workaround.
But, the fact is, online/offline measurement can be done and the industry has had a solution for years. It’s incrementality testing. If you want to know how Online Channel A impacts Offline Sales, you can simply run a split test with a test group that is exposed to the channel, vs the rest of the population that is not. You let the test run and then at the end, you have a pretty good idea of the online/offline impact.
And I use “Online Channel A” in this example, but it could be any online or offline program tactic or element…channel, ad, publisher, bid change, etc. If you want to know how a television commercial affects your paid search program, you can do that. It’s actually not that hard.
Incrementality is the solution, but testing requires more work
As every marketer reading this blog knows, there’s not much left in the day after the most important tasks have been tackled. Marketing measurement has generally been treated as an exercise that gathers the data it needs while a campaign is running.
However, marketing experiments are more of a “windshield” exercise rather than a “rear-view mirror” one. Tests need to be planned, run, and analyzed before the insights can be found. This means the scope of duties that marketers are expected to perform will need to expand, and this is counter-intuitive to the way that most marketing organizations work. But, in order to reap the benefits of knowing how elements of your online/offline campaigns work together to drive business results, a real “test & learn” framework is needed.
New innovations in machine learning and Artificial Intelligence now make running incrementality tests a fairly easy, fast, and inexpensive opportunity for marketers to finally have the online/offline measurement they truly need.
At Skai, I manage our Impact Navigator product which can be the technology centerpiece for test & learn marketing organizations. The platform can be run by any marketer and offers the ability to run tests in as little as two weeks to get real insights that can improve the performance potential of a campaign before it even begins. We also engineered the platform to be able to run simultaneous tests so that marketers can get answers to multiple questions at the same time—which dramatically reduces the time-to-insights (TTI).
How important is online/offline marketing measurement for you?
If this is extremely important to your business, there’s no reason to delay. Build in a test & learn framework for your marketing organization with incrementality testing as the primary methodology.
You don’t have to use Skai’s Impact Navigator, but you should check it out to see how it can benefit you. Contact us for a quick demo to see how it works. It might be just the right solution you need to figure out how to optimally run your online and offline marketing programs holistically.