Dominic Trigg, managing director Europe, Rocket Fuel
It is tempting to think that the last contact that a brand has had with a customer is the reason that he or she has made a purchase. But to attribute a conversion entirely to that final click is flawed. In reality, the last click is just that – the last in a series of touch points over many months and entailing many marketing pounds.
The digital journey has never been so complex and ignoring it in its entirety could result in a brand overlooking key moments that have contributed to that all-important final decision to buy.
In the beginning…
Online advertising came with a big promise: brands could measure the correlation between an ad impression and the decision to purchase.
But the online journey has matured beyond what could have ever been imagined in those early days. Now, it not only spans multiple devices – mobile, tablet, TV and so on – but has also become an intrinsic part of everyday work and social life.
An ad might for instance be seen on Facebook, as a YouTube overlay, in an email and so to measure just that one click ignores the impact of potentially dozens of previous touch points. “Top of the funnel” activities like brand advertising have been ignored for too long. Effective ads affect customers every step of the way, not just at the last hurdle.
Marketers ignore previous ad exposures at their peril: Rocket Fuel’s research shows that brand advertising impressions, when measured in real time, not only drive revenue, they blow a click-through only campaign out of the water.
In this double dip recession, when every penny spent is being scrutinised by the finance director, it is essential to ensure campaigns achieve proven results.
Crediting views is far more meaningful than crediting clicks. Even without sophisticated marketing analytics tools, view-throughs can be measured using simple tests, for instance splitting an audience into two sets of users and tracking the revenue each generates.
Quantifying lift from display ads is another vital measure. With the right methodology, brand goals can be realised and the impact display ads have on revenue can be modelled and predicted. To get an idea of how views affect conversion, brands can analyse the time it takes between an ad impression and a purchase.
Because consumers jump between display, social, search, mobile and offline and are likely to see numerous ads before converting, brands need to collect data across channels. The best way to do this is to work with a single technology platform to track who saw what and where they went from there.
Marketers should be asking their customers (and prospects) the right questions in order to find out:
- How much do channels complement each other?
- What are the typical paths to conversion?
- Which partners are the most valuable for filling the top of the purchasing funnel?
- Where do the higher value conversions come from?
Doing this will enable brands to make sensible decisions about future spend and to continually develop an intelligent approach to full-funnel advertising.
The Bigger Picture
At a time when all communications roles are looking to prove the logic of their monetary decisions, it is vital to take an evidence-driven, defendable approach. The practice and science of online advertising has now made this increasingly feasible for online campaigns.
It may sound prohibitively complicated to apportion credit accurately at each stage of such a campaign. However, keeping things simple and asking the right questions at the right time can help demonstrate what has really made the difference and help justify effective full-funnel advertising just when effectiveness is most needed.