I smirk when anyone tells me that "branding" is the core of any campaign. Branding is to measurement what superstition is to science. You advertise to do one thing: move product — period. That product is sold either online or offline. Online measurement, while not perfect, is evolving. Offline, up until recently, not so much.
In 2017, advertisers spent $500-plus billion on campaigns that were intended to drive consumers in-store. After all, 85 percent of action still takes place in a location and, yet, measuring the effectiveness of campaigns and vendors in driving consumers into a store is still a black hole of unsubstantiated claims.
As a brand marketer, spending billions of dollars each year on advertising, wouldn’t you want to know if a customer did indeed go to your store as a result of those ads? And, if so, which vendor or channel was responsible?
While data-driven marketing has been a major advantage for measurement, there are still areas, like offline and multitouch attribution, that haven't evolved at the pace they should given the climate of brick-and-mortar. Through these gaps we're missing the most important metric of all: the effectiveness of the ad spend.
To put this into context, a QSR restaurant, for example, spends millions of dollars a year in various channels, across various vendors with the intention of selling more hamburgers. Retailers, more clothes. An auto company, more cars. Yet, after all of this spend, how many more cars, burgers or clothes did they sell? We have no idea.
While brands will spend millions of dollars this year to create advertising paths for online consumers to become offline, most are still without the ability to determine if their campaigns are driving the consumer to these locations. In this highly competitive environment, knowing how, why and when consumers are lured into stores is no longer a luxury; it's imperative for stores to survive the brick-and-mortar evolution.
The Keys to the Kingdom
Mobile offers us the unparalleled ability to know who is where by virtue of the device in our pocket. This information allows brand marketers to target customers close to their stores and, more importantly, to influence those customers to actually go inside. The piece that's often overlooked, and the reason why mobile is the key to ALL media, is not that mobile is better at getting people into stores (open to debate), but rather that you can use mobile, in all of its variations, to measure the effectiveness of advertising within ALL of your media spend. Mobile is the only device that can tie ALL channels (including desktop, search, TV, radio and social) back to a location metric.
Survive or Thrive?
So, who will thrive in the emerging direct brand economy? While established brands are struggling with growth, make no mistake that the customized, data-enriched, consumer-centric brands are indeed thriving. In a world where not a day goes by without an article discussing fraud, viewability, bots, waste, etc., proving your success is essential to maintaining the confidence of everyone in the ecosystem.
As the media landscape continues to evolve, marketers must urgently make ample use of their marketing data. Aligning their organizational strategies around that data will help brands, publishers and their partners compete in a world with agile, tech-focused new market entrants and adapt their businesses to thrive in the 21st century.
Neil Sweeney is the CEO of Freckle IoT, a provider of multitouch offline attribution.