PHILADELPHIA—In case advertisers hadn’t noticed, the era of the double click is dead. In its place: a world of quadruple clicks and multiple finger swipes, a multiscreen shopping experience in which advertisers need to target their message across a plethora of platforms to make a sale.
For advertisers, the challenge is how to measure the effectiveness of their ad dollar when consumers hear about a product on television, research it two days later on a mobile phone, comparison shop on other websites using a desktop, before finally closing the sale on a tablet on their commute home from work.
“A lot of people are seeing ads on mobile phones but when they buy the product they are using the larger screen on PC or laptop,” said Anindya Ghose, professor of Information, Operations and Management Sciences at New York University’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business in New York.
Ghose was one of several panelists who spoke at a May 16 conference at the Wharton School’s Future of Advertising Program which explored innovations in measuring advertising effectiveness.
For managers looking at the click-through and sales data, new shopping habits anchored in multiscreen behavior pose a quandary. Where does management plunk down the ad dollar to get the most bang for the buck?
Mobile ads influence not only mobile purchasing propensities, but Web purchasing habits as well. Mobile clicks precipitate conversion to a sale on the Web, and Web clicks precipitate conversion to a sale on mobile platforms, said Ghose.
As a result, there’s an increase in sales when Web and mobile ads are active on both devices within the same time period, and managers who spend their entire ad budgets on the mobile channel only risk missing out on reaching consumers through the PC channel.
Ghose, who spoke on the interdependence between Web and mobile advertising, said takeaways from his research were that mobile ads influence cross-media conversions to a sale and that ad campaigns need to incorporate the relationship buyers have across multiple devices.
The multichannel model is where the future is headed, said Justin Petty, vice president of global media solutions and partnership with DunnhumbyUSA, the Cincinnati-based branch of the British data and customer analysis company.
Exposing consumers to multiple channels before they make a buying decision isn’t new, of course, but new Web-based channels—mobile and social media—require new data models to allow marketers to track consumers who surf from a Facebook ad to a Google search to pressing “buy” at the online shop, said Eva Anderl, a Ph.D. candidate at Universitat Passau in Germany.
The trick is for companies to figure out the relative value of each click as consumers jump from one channel to another.
“That’s an interesting question for marketers,” Anderl said, particularly small and midsize companies who still use simpler models that rely on standard advertising performance measures which are no longer adequate.
Her model, implemented at the German tracking company intelliAd, helps allocate advertising dollars as a function of the value of the exposures, and gives greater weight to search engine optimization, Anderl said.
Andy Fisher, senior vice president and chief analytics officer for Merkle Inc., said one of the big trends in the industry today is for advertisers to incorporate social media into the more traditional media mix and attribution models. Results have by and large been uneven, but the movie industry has had the most success with it so far, he said.
Other techniques to measure advertising effectiveness include eye-tracking and emotional responses on people’s faces, said Daniel McDuff, a research assistant with MIT Media Lab. “More and more people are watching ads online and TV online, so there’s a two-way relationship where we can collect information on their responses to the content,” he said.
That is, though, only if they agree as part of an opt-in process to be tracked, and even McDuff conceded that the “self-selection bias” needs to be taken into account.
Video platforms are still another data gold mine for retailers and advertisers, said Anuj Kumar, assistant professor of information systems management at the University of Florida’s Warrington College of Business Administration in Gainesville.
After the introduction of product videos, which allow shoppers to see what they might look like wearing different pieces of clothing, one midsize women’s apparel retailer saw a 15 percent increase in sales of its featured product, and a 31 percent increase in sales of coordinating products, Kumar said.
Mining that data could yield a wealth of information about shopping preferences, leading to more effective advertising, even if companies have not exploited video-based data techniques to their fullest potential, Kumar said. Data collected by video can be assimilated relatively cheaply using back-end systems, he said.
Yet for all the charts and graphs and the overwhelming rationality that governs advertising effectiveness measurement today, Orlando Wood, managing director at BrainJuicer, an international market research and analytics firm, said the most effective – and profitable – ads are the ones that connect emotionally with people.
When it comes to making a decision, “we think much less than we think we think,” Wood said, gleefully casting aside – if only for a moment – all the day’s statistical analysis. “The way advertising works is by making you feel something for the brand and nudging you in its favor.”
Cyril Tuohy is a freelance business writer based near Philadelphia. He can be reached at email@example.com.