According to new data from NinthDecimal, cross-device ad campaigns perform 60 percent better than desktop-only campaigns when it comes to in-store conversions. There was an average 24-percent incremental lift in store visits for cross-device campaigns vs. a 15-percent incremental lift for PC-only campaigns, according to the company.
These benchmarks come from an analysis of more than four billion impressions across a wide range of digital campaigns on behalf of advertisers measuring digital ad-influenced offline visits. Some of the companies using offline attribution in this context include Target, Toyota, McDonald’s and many others with physical locations. Last year, agency ZenithOptimedia broadly adopted NinthDecimal’s “LCI” location intelligence platform as a tool to measure offline activity and for cross-platform analytics.
Many marketers still think of location and location data as primarily about real-time geofencing. However, location analytics can be broadly applied to audience segmentation or targeting and then operate as a kind of standard to measure ad performance where offline visits or actions are an objective. Beyond desktop and mobile, this now extends to traditional media, such as outdoor, TV and direct mail.
David Staas, president of NinthDecimal, argues that “mobile is now the glue” for all media, enabling “an apples-to-apples comparison of performance across channels.” Historically, it was difficult or impossible to do this, except through call tracking, which is useful but incomplete. In other words, location analytics/store visits can operate as a kind of universal metric for media, except where the conversion is purely online.
At the highest level, NinthDecimal and others associate mobile devices with households, IP addresses and other identifiers to measure ad exposures and then track offline impact through offline mobile presence. NinthDecimal is careful to point out that this is all done in an anonymous and privacy-compliant way. Various methodologies are used to eliminate false positives and to disambiguate audiences.
For consumers, mobile is becoming the primary internet access point. For marketers, mobile is the nexus between the digital and physical worlds for impact measurement.
Staas told me that among brands, offline attribution is starting to become more important. He said he didn’t think it would entirely replace proxy metrics such as impressions, clicks or engagement. However, offline attribution provides insight into which of those metrics is meaningful in terms of real-world behavior.
Several studies, including one by xAd, argue there’s an inverse relationship between mobile ad clicks and store visits. Thus, optimizing for clicks may be the wrong thing for mobile marketers to do. Indeed, comScore has made similar arguments for years — clickers and buyers are not necessarily the same when it comes to offline conversions.
Using location data, marketers can now optimize in real time, mid-campaign against foot traffic or store visits. NinthDecimal customers and partners are doing this.
A number of other companies are doing similar things — using location to segment audiences for targeting and/or real-world attribution — with varying degrees of sophistication. Beyond NinthDecimal and xAd, they include Google, Facebook, Foursquare, Factual, Placed, Verve, SITO mobile, ThinkNear, UberMedia and YP.
Location and location targeting have long been poorly understood by most marketers. And in an increasingly fragmented and complex media world, those marketers that neglect to adopt these tools and methods will have at best only a partial view of how their media are performing.