DNI – What Mobile Search Marketers Need To Know About Online-Offline Attribution

With the rise in mobile marketing, measuring the online-offline attribution of a mobile search campaign has only increased in complexity.

Most marketers today are making valiant efforts to track all secondary actions – from phone calls and driving directions to map and reservations look ups – but tracking a call back to the specific mobile search campaign that drove it is not as simple when working with a high volume of campaigns. As a result, dynamic number insertion (DNI) is one of the key online-offline attribution tools mobile marketers should have in their toolkit.

With DNI, phone numbers on an advertiser’s website or landing pages are dynamically replaced with call tracking numbers based on how the visitor arrived at the site or page. So, a consumer who browses directly to a brand or business webpage would see the official business phone number (or a static call tracking number). However, consumers reaching the webpage through a DNI-enabled mobile search campaign would see a unique call tracking number that can be used to track which campaign, keyword, app or search engine led the consumer to the site.


This enables advertisers to tie offline calls back to the online or mobile source that delivered the lead, thus bridging the online-offline attribution gap.

There are two primary methods for DNI phone number replacement: 1:1 and session based, also known as number pooling. In 1:1 number replacement, there is a different unique tracking phone number assigned for every referrer and/or keyword combination. While this offers 100 percent lead attribution accuracy it can be complex to scale across large campaigns effectively.

Ad providers, agencies and brand marketers with complex and expansive national campaigns could be using thousands of search engine-keyword combinations and individual call tracking numbers for each combination simultaneously—which is a considerable investment.

As a result, DNI enablers have been offering ad providers and marketers session-based or number pooling solutions, in which web sessions cycle through a pool of call tracking numbers and any resulting calls are matched to back to specific sessions through date and time stamping.

Buyers should be aware of some of the limitations of traditional number pooling solutions as cycling through a set of call tracking numbers can potentially skew results. A site with high traffic periods, like a pizzeria on a Friday night for example, can cycle through a set of numbers quickly and depending solely on date and time stamping for a search and a call is not enough to accurately match the two elements.

Recent innovations in DNI number pooling technology, however, are helping to close the quality gap and provide search marketers the best of both worlds—the ability to cost-effectively scale online-offline attribution without sacrificing attribution accuracy or impeding search marketers’ efforts to optimize programs and prove advertiser value. Mobile search providers need to ensure that they are working with DNI providers that support these advances and best practices to deliver quality results/reports.

Some of the configurable features and quality considerations that advertisers should look for include:

  1. Category flexibility: Not all advertiser categories have the same search or calling patterns. An insurance agent, for example, would have a different call pattern than a spa. The period of time that the line should remain open to receive the call should be category-specific — not one size fits all.
  2. Local number availability: Location matters to consumers – especially in mobile – so advertisers featuring a local number prominently on their site or app typically receive more calls. Make sure you have local numbers available for your DNI efforts regardless of the campaign size.
  3. Dedicated number pools: Call tracking number pools should not be shared among accounts, advertisers or even websites. Confirm that your provider can offer a dedicated number pool per website so that they can ensure that all calls to the numbers in the pool ring through to the appropriate advertiser, regardless of when they call.

DNI is helping mobile marketers close the online-offline attribution gap and, with today’s advances, advertisers no longer have to sacrifice attribution accuracy in order to scale their programs cost effectively. To ensure you are yielding optimal ROI results, make sure your DNI efforts are transparent, include the latest quality measures and are tailored to reflect category-specific search and calling patterns.

Note: While some have reported that Google’s privacy policy has negatively impacted DNI, this only impacts keyword-level tracking on a limited basis for organic search queries for Google’s logged-in account users. It does not affect paid search campaigns.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.

Related Topics: Mobile Marketing | Mobile Marketing Column | Search Marketing


About The Author: is president of Telmetrics, a provider of call measurement solutions. Dinan has led Telmetrics' evolution from print-centric tools to multi-media, leads-based measurement solutions and was appointed president in May 2009. He can be reached at bill.dinan@telmetrics.com.

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