As more and more marketing dollars flow to digital, marketers are increasingly active in multiple online channels, including search, display and social. Yet making sense of how they all relate to one another, and optimizing marketing spend across all of these channels, still often poses significant challenges.

Last week,  marketing provider SearchIgnite launched a new solution designed to break down the silos that keep marketers from managing multiple channels.

According to SearchIgnite, not attributing the contribution each channel makes to the big picture results in “most marketers…attributing their performance to the last
click, thereby over-allocating budgets to undeserving media and even
overpaying for conversions.

I asked Roger Barnette, SearchIgnite’s founder and CEO about his company’s new platform, the importance of taking a wider look at the marketing mix and the impact doing so will have on companies going forward.

What sort of ROI are early users of your new platform seeing?

For search, our clients have seen great results with improved optimization. A leading financial services marketer experiences a 300% rise in search conversions after implementing our predictive optimization algorithms.

Our enhanced platform offers similar optimization benefits for display, and allows marketers to track customers’ complete path to conversion – from viewing display banners to clicking on a search advertisement and more. They can track paid and natural search, email activity, social media and all forms of display media.

With this form of tracking, we typically see 20% overlap between channels, which can be addressed, resulting in immediate optimization efficiency and savings for clients. While some overlap is good, too much can lead to waste if the conversion would have happened anyway. Once we determine where there’s overlap, we re-invest the funds in areas that are providing the “more unique” conversions, which are defined as conversions where there is minimal overlap between search and display.

Another interesting fact is that we find conversion paths with multiple channel touch points (search, display, affiliate, etc.) convert significantly faster than for conversions with only one channel in the path. For one auto insurance client of ours, this amount was five times faster.

How important is it for marketers to be looking at their digital spend as a whole? What are companies doing this standing to gain, and what are companies that aren’t potentially losing? How important will this view of the marketing mix be to competitiveness going forward?

It’s not just important for marketers to look at digital spend and performance holistically, it’s essential. Tracking all customer interactions with your brand across all forms of digital media is critical for your performance marketing campaigns. Without it, you simply cannot know how your media is really performing, and which publishers or advertising campaigns are helping you reach and convert your customers most effectively.

Most marketers are still attributing their performance to the last click, thereby over-allocating budgets to undeserving media and even overpaying for conversions. What’s more, current DSP technologies typically lack complete digital media measurement because they only attribute 20 to 30% of display inventory (i.e. display bought on ad exchanges using real-time bidding). This approach falls short in managing the bulk of marketers’ display advertising.

Marketers who don’t measure all of their online channels in a centralized platform risk overspending on underperforming channels, or even over paying for conversions.

As more and more marketers take a holistic look at their marketing efforts online, what are some of the best practices they should consider when applying the analytics your platform provides to their budgeting and decision-making processes?

Measure, Learn, Adapt. Attribution is at the core of everything we do. Companies succeed when they are open to using cross channel attribution analytics to find where, when, and how each channel interacts and use this data to make informed decisions on their performance marketing spend.

How do platforms like yours impact staffing needs? Will companies find that they increasingly need a marketing staff that is well-versed in multiple digital media channels (display, search, social, etc.) or will there still be a need for channel-specific specialists?

As digital disciplines begin to converge and overlap, companies need to adapt accordingly by structuring their overall operations that reflect the current needs of the marketplace. It really is a case of innovate or die.

In order to meet the demands of this evolving landscape, companies need to take a more holistic approach to managing their media platforms. Historically, search marketers were equipped to mange performance media based on a search centric approach, yet now have to consider how Display, networks and exchanges are changing the way the game is played.

Therefore, 2011 promises to be a year where advertisers and agencies adapt to this evolving landscape and respond by building on departments that focus on ‘biddable media‘ and centralized ‘performance media‘. Some will choose to bolster their internal capabilities, while others will look outside to performance-based media companies who bring that expertise to the table.