The path to purchase for consumers has shifted drastically over time. Unlike 10 years ago when people headed into a store to physically examine a product before purchase, most individuals research products online — oftentimes across a multitude of devices. But that’s just the beginning of the process. It may be days and weeks before an actual purchase takes place. There might be additional research — this time it could be on a different mobile device, desktop or even an in-store visit. People engage with brands across multiple devices and media channels — it’s a byproduct of the technological environment we live in. And in a world driven by consumer experience, advertisers need to understand how people engage with a brand at every touchpoint.
But, the same technological environment that enables advertisers to communicate with individuals is the same environment that makes it difficult for advertisers to understand consumer engagement, measure the effectiveness of campaigns and grasp the true return on ad spend. There needs to be a stronger emphasis on cross-channel attribution.
Most advertisers have access to data across all media channels and devices. But many take a siloed approach to the analysis. Unfortunately, this approach only tells part of the story. Campaign elements are intertwined, and therefore, need to be analyzed together.
For example, let’s say a consumer sees an ad for a new laptop on TV and is intrigued, but soon forgets about the commercial in the afternoon. The next day the individual sees the same ad on social media. As the consumer heads into the store, there’s another ad near the entrance. Each of these elements had an impact on the final purchase, however, if an advertiser only measures the elements of the campaign individually, the first two interactions may appear as failures. But when cross-channel measurement is applied — and this really is possible to do — advertisers begin to see the effectiveness as a whole.
At the end of the day, the goal of every marketing campaign should be to influence consumer purchase behavior. The only way to continuously meet that goal is to understand previous engagement with consumers and optimize future content. Advertisers that can see which campaign elements overperformed and underperformed can adjust content, messaging, creative and even reallocate spend. And more importantly, advertisers can adjust these elements in real-time, and data is an integral part of that process.
Keep in mind — every person is different and behaves differently across devices and channels. Advertisers need to understand their customers across different devices and channels. They can find this in their own first-party data, and they can augment it with predictive data from third-party sources. This level of insight can help them make the right advertising decisions, and better connect with individuals. That means relevant messages, across the right channels, at the right time.
And with the holidays here and the new year right around the corner, there’s never been a more appropriate time to evaluate advertising campaign performance and assess how to optimize for 2019. The ability to identify consumers can have an immediate impact on an advertiser’s ability to understand if a campaign element contributed to the final in-store purchase — in real-time. But, it’s also important to measure campaigns across channels, as each plays a role in influencing consumer purchase behavior. Together this can have an enormous impact on the ability to hit the ground running in the new year.