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4INFO’s 2016 Plan: Focus On Cross-Screen Retail Ad Attribution

Recent deals with set-top box providers and the ability to connect ads and shoppers at the SKU-level is where the mobile-first ad tech company is setting its sights.

4Info's Tim Jenkins
4Info’s Tim Jenkins

As 4INFO – which records about 10 billion ad requests daily – sets its focus on expanding the value of location data beyond store visits and proximity to determining whether an ad led to a sale being made at a brick-and-mortar business, two alliances made in the latter half of 2015 will shape the year ahead.

One part of CEO Tim Jenkins’ plans entail building on November’s deal with in-store shopping tracker Kantar Shopcom and why SKU-level ad reporting is so crucial; the second involves alliances with cable companies on top of the arrangements it struck with Dish Network and DirecTV to tie mobile ads to other media to measure true cross-screen marketing programs.

GeoMarketing: What kind of a year did 4INFO have in 2015?

Tim Jenkins: It’s been a great year for us. The initiatives that we started a year ago drumbeat around insisting that you do offline sales measurement has really started to resonate. You would think that would be an obvious thing for brands, but the brands get it. It was the agencies that didn’t necessarily get it. The agencies were very focused on traditional digital KPIs, because that’s how they were being paid. We’re starting to see a big change in a number of the agencies, where their brands have finally started to break through and insist on measuring the impact of offline sales as one of the key metrics to report back.

So for us, that’s kind of a giant move forward. And it always existed in consumer packaged goods. They’ve had the ability to measure based on coupon activity for a long time, but being able to tie a mobile impression directly to a transaction like they can through our platform was something that was fairly new a couple years ago. But they picked it up and ran with it like crazy.

I would say in the consumer packaged goods space, 95 percent of every campaign that we do today has offline sales measurement as the only KPI that’s being measured. That’s pretty true.

What marketing categories have you seen particular growth in when it comes 4INFO’s services?

Financial services has really picked up on this. It’s interesting, because what they’re measuring isn’t necessarily a new credit card subscriber; they’re measuring the lifetime value of a new subscriber. So a whole new metric for at least digital, has been introduced. Mobile, in particular, has been introduced in the financial services sector. So we see an uptick across all the major financial services players, everything from banks to credit card companies.

Pharmaceuticals is quite big. A lot of effort has been put into making solutions like ours privacy compliant, so we can do targeting and measurement in the pharmaceutical space in a very privacy-friendly manner. That’s taken a long time, but as a result, we’ve seen pharmaceutical companies really step up big time and embrace platforms like ours.

The final vertical that we’ve seen an uptick in when it comes to offline sales measurement is non-CPG retail. One of the big problems that non-CPG retail had is there was no real frequent shopper or loyalty card.

For example, if I’m Levi’s, and I wanted to do measurement, I would have to go run a campaign only at Macy’s; and then Macy’s may or may not actually give me back sales data. The retailers always hold that very close to their vests, believing that that information is theirs and it gives them power over the brands when it comes to negotiations.

But Kantar Shopcom just launched cross-retail measurement capabilities across about 32,000 retailer stores, and we launched the first mobile solution with them about a month ago.

How does that change the balance in what brands can know?

That partnership gives us access to that same level of measurement that the retailer has. So now Levi’s, for example, can run a national campaign and we can measure across 32,000 retail locations at a SKU level. That is a big deal for this space because that didn’t exist before.

But why is that important?

You have two things that you want to be able to measure at that retail transaction level and it just depends on the level of detail that the retailer will give back to the measurement partner. So you have UPC level data — or barcodes — which is the most granular level and can identify if someone bought a product as specific as Crest with Whitener; SKU-level is basically at the top product level, which would be Crest toothpaste.

Our expertise is being able to trace it all the way through to the end transaction. But we now offer an entire suite of measurement products that take it everything all the way from targeting to the digital interaction, which is the clicks, the downloads, page views, video completion rates, all the way through to a location visit, culminating in the actual sale.

Ultimately, being able to cover that full attribution path allows us to address one of the weaknesses that this industry has had, which is relying on what I think is an incredibly inferior measurement tool: looking at the store location or place visit rate.

We’ve seen it over and over again where it looks like they would rather consult the store’s app than actually ask someone who works for the store for information. And we’re seeing marketers use a lot of mapping apps when they’re in there so we can tell that they’re looking for other store locations and the comparison pricing. We see them across a number of those kinds of applications. It looks like roughly half the people are actually doing comparative pricing when they’re in stores, so we don’t have a complete picture of the universe, but we have a pretty good view.

What trends are you looking to capitalize in 2016?

We have a few things going on. One other trend is a true adoption of data-driven advertising. People have been talking about it forever, but advertisers are finally figuring out how to actually use the data sources that are available for marketing purposes. It’s really about very granular audience targeting, using offline data as a primary source for identifying those segments.

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of GeoMarketing.com. A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.