Whatever Happened to Precise DM Measurement
On the Internet side, at first we figured that we’d know exactly what banners or keywords drove customers to our Web sites and be able to precisely determine the amount to spend on advertising — and where we ought spend it. Catalogers have been delighted to find new customers placing orders on their Web sites, driven from Google paid search terms and other Web media.
Too few catalogers, though, are looking critically at their Web ad spends. Those who carefully track their Web customers have come to the unsurprising conclusion that many of these “new customers” who came through paid search and other online advertising avenues were already receiving catalogs from them.
Epsilon’s Abacus division has done some groundbreaking research within its catalog co-op database on the consumers who arrive at the typical cataloger’s Web site through Web referrals. “We typically see as much as 85 percent of these buyers were recently mailed a catalog,” observes Epsilon Senior Vice President of Product Strategy Casey Carey, “and on average, 45 percent to 55 percent are existing customers.”
So, catalogers vigorously debate whether they need to mail as many (or any) catalogs to online buyers as to others. Pure e-commerce companies, such as Amazon.com, Zappos.com, eBay and others, develop offline mailing programs and then strive to determine the payoff from those efforts.
Retail Makes It Cloudier
Multichannel marketers with robust retail chains also struggle to determine how much of their Web and catalog ad spending can be properly allocated to store sales. Even companies like AT&T try to optimize hundreds of millions in media spend over outlets that range from the lowly bill insert to sponsorship of the Olympics. Their goal, just like more traditional catalogers, is to drive orders to their Web sites and call centers.
A number of approaches — some homegrown, some available through solution providers — have been developed to allow multichannel marketers to properly attribute ad spending to multichannel results. Fundamentally, there are two basic approaches:
1. matchback methodologies
2. experimental test design.