Brands Still Uncertain About Digital Results

No brand can afford to sit back and watch its customers move online and then move to mobile. They’ve all tried to follow their customers. But they’re still at a loss to measure whether their digital spend is actually bringing them results. We’ve been through brands as publishers, brands as newsrooms, brands as video producers without accurate metrics.

At this stage of the game, most brands have invested heavily in content production, both on their own sites and on those of more traditional publishers. From CPG brands who put recipes on their sites to those who sponsor content on The New York Times,  they all still complain they lack the tools to measure whether their investment was translating into actual sales. Nearly two thirds of brands still can’t connect their digital efforts to sales.

A new product called “householding” is trying to solve that problem by adding a layer of context to data collected by advertisers. Householding tries to follow the consumer from home to work and recognize that an ad may have different relevance to the same person at home, work, or in the supermarket.

For example, consider the woman who wants to lose a few pounds. At her work computer, an ad about her intention might be a distraction appearing in the midst of work-related reading, unless perhaps it was about the problems  women who work and don’t have time to cook have with excess weight. At home on a tablet, that same user might click on an ad that promised she could “lose ten pounds before summer,” and in the market she might respond to a phone notification about a sale on low calorie frozen entrees in the case in front of her cart. The campaign might be for frozen vegetables as a simple weight loss tool, but the ads would look and feel completely different in each context..

All three of these ads are may be for the same brand, can be part of the same campaign, but must deliver different messages. It’s no longer enough just to personalize ads to a specific user — we must also personalize to the device, the location, and the potential emotional state of the use.

The continued migration of users to mobile makes it much more important to follow the same customer across channels to reach her. It’s called a single customer view, and it means that same woman will be reached appropriately by the brand no matter where she goes.

Constructing a single customer view becomes even more of an imperative for marketers when the Apple Watch becomes the norm. What kinds of notifications, if any, will the customer allow on her wrist?

With all the data we have, we’re still very much in the dark about our customers. Fewer than 40% of marketers are today able to collect and integrate data from their mobile apps, and still fewer can connect that data to their CRM systems. In the age of big data attribution still eludes us.