ZenithOptimedia And NinthDecimal Partnership Proclaims Offline Visits As New Measurement Standard
Consumer location data being used for measurement and media planning
Agency ZenithOptimedia (ZO) and mobile ad platform NinthDecimal are announcing a sweeping offline and cross-platform analytics deal that will have broader implications for the advertising industry.
This new deal involves use of NinthDecimal’s “LCI” location intelligence platform and associated analytics to measure the impact of online and mobile ads on offline store visits and related activity. It also has significant media buying implications.
NinthDecimal is not the only company offering location intelligence, analytics and insights. Companies such as xAd, Factual, PlaceIQ, Skyhook, Verve and Placed are also deeply involved in location-based audience intelligence and offline attribution. Google, Facebook, Twitter and others are also pursuing a range of approaches to capture similar information: the offline or in-store impact of digital media and ads.
The ZO-NinthDecimal deal is significant because of the commitment that ZO has made to this approach and to using location data as a tool to measure digital and eventually traditional media broadly across its client base. Yale Cohen, ZO’s SVP of Activation, told me last week that ZO’s clients “are always asking for greater insights into media performance; they want to know how does their media [holistically] affect offline visitation and transactions?” In addition to tracking and attribution,. Cohen expects the use of NinthDecimal’s data and insights to help “make media buying more efficient” for clients.
In the press release, the parties are calling their deal “a new standard of omni-channel measurement and audience insights.” NinthDecimal built a self-serve dashboard that make location and audience data available in real time. The company has given ZO exclusive access to for a period of time. Presumably it will become more widely available to other agencies and brands after the expiration of that term.
According to the press materials, “Each partner integrates NinthDecimal’s measurement pixel and tag via the company’s LCI Verified Partner program. Over 75 partners are currently or in the process of becoming verified, enabling automated campaign-wide measurement.” This allow for A/B testing and real-time campaign optimization against offline behavior.
Location is used both “on the front end” for audience segmentation and “on the back end” to evaluate media performance. ZO’s Cohen expects offline attribution to become a standard metric for most advertisers that sell products or services in the physical world.
Remember that 93 percent of US retail is still offline. There are trillions more spent annually on offline services. Roughly 70 percent of the US $18 trillion GDP is consumer spending — most of it offline.
Yet billions (even trillions) of dollars in real-world transactions are now being influenced by digital media. Most of that activity wasn’t measurable on a campaign basis until the advent of smartphones and methodologies such as NinthDecimal’s.
At the highest level NinthDecimal is able to associate mobile devices with traditional IP addresses and measure ad exposure and the offline impact of even traditional media such as TV and direct mail. The company is careful to point out that this is all done in an anonymous and privacy compliant way. Location history is also factored in to eliminate false positives and do define and disambiguate audience segments.
In short Ads on the PC can be tracked to offline store visits. PlaceIQ is also doing something similar with TV ad viewing and offline behavior, using mobile devices as the bridge. As mentioned there are a number of companies pursuing similar approaches.
ZO is integrating this methodology with its various media channel partners. Incremental lift or impact (offline) is assessed based on a sophisticated control and exposed approach as well as benchmarking against the general population. ZO then gets a clear perspective, using standardized metrics, of the relative performance of its various media channels and partners.
Not only will ZO be using this data to test and optimize its campaigns against offline actions but it will use it as part of pre-planning.
ZO’s Cohen said that these capabilities “bring us one step closer to being able to report on the value of every single impression for our clients.” While Cohen doesn’t believe that offline attribution will totally eliminate other metrics such as CTR or “engagement,” he does believe it will become a standard metric and fill in critical missing information that “completes the picture of the consumer path to purchase.”