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For 4Info, ‘Measuring What Matters’ Means Sales Lift, Not Just In-Store Traffic

CMO Chuck Moxley offers some Dr. Phil-influenced advice when it comes to how marketers misuse location data and measurement.

4Info's Chuck Moxley
4Info’s Chuck Moxley

Over the last few years, 4Info has positioned itself as a mobile attribution specialist for enterprise retail businesses — a long leap from its beginnings 10 years ago as an early SMS ad generator.

The company released its first “benchmark study” with shopper data provider Catalina that sought to make the case for emphasizing in-store sales lift as the main metric retailers need to worry about. As a follow-up, 4Info’s Chuck Moxley talked about the company’s growth strategy as well as what he feels is the wrong way to use geo-data. (Hint: Geo-fencing is not the best use of brands’ marketing dollars.)

How has 4Info evolved from an SMS marketing platform into a company specializing in online-to-offline marketing analytics?

The company today is so different than what it was back then. It started out as you mentioned, as SMS search and then moved into an SMS ad platform, and ultimately was, at one point, the largest SMS ad platform in the US with a lot of major clients on it. The natural evolution was just as phones change. You think back to ten years ago, texting was it, you go back five years ago or four years ago, and the big move to smartphones and apps, mobile display was becoming a lot more common. It was a natural evolution for the company to try to evolve into that area.

What prompted the biggest change in 4Info’s evolution?

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

[4Info CEO] Tim Jenkins joined the company in late 2011 and there was, ultimately, a complete change over the management team. That paved the way for building our platform, AdHaven Bullseye, that we launched in March of 2013.

Since we launched it over two years ago, we’ve run campaigns for more than 200 brands on this platform. That’s where we are today.

It’s really about being able to have a platform that can tie offline data from there to the mobile as well as desktop worlds. It’s for the purposes getting very precise data and then, measuring, as we like to say, what matters: i.e., actual sales lift regardless of where the transaction occurs, from ecommerce, mcommerce, or in-store. The in-store’s the hard part, yet it’s 94 percent of all purchase transactions. So when we talk about measure what matters, that’s largely what we’re aiming to solve.

Who are 4Info’s primary clients?

We gravitated toward national brands because they gravitated toward us. We’ve worked with eight of the top 10 consumer packaged goods companies. We work with six of the top 10 retailers. We work with all five of the largest auto manufacturers.

That being said, as time goes on we’ve been approached by smaller brands, more regional brands. Where there’s enough interest from smaller businesses, we actually partnered with Acxiom and built a product for the SMB audience called My Acxiom Partner.

How does that product work?

My Acxiom Partner is more than just mobile, but we built a mobile product within that. The average campaign is running $2,000 or $3,000 dollars in that. These are small campaigns, it’s all done through self-service. They have a sales team at Acxiom that services the smaller businesses. We can also the same thing for these midsize brands.

We just can’t run them the same way we run a national brand. Really in our campaign, we obviously can’t spend the same amount of time and energy, and have the same level of support that we can afford to on the SMB. That’s why we built a special portal for that. We don’t turn our backs on SMBs, we have a solution that’s perfect fit for them. But the bread and butter and the bulk of our revenue today, comes from these national brands.

You mentioned how scale is what appeals to national brands who work with 4Info. How large is 4Info’s audience reach?

We reach north of 200 million mobile devices and 120 million US households. That’s virtually 100% of the country. The point of that is, we can reach pretty much everybody who’s on a mobile device. There are a few people still who aren’t on a mobile device in the US.

What are 4Info’s data sources?

It all comes down to that Bullseye ID, which ties these devices to the people who use them. Once we’ve done that, and we know the home address, we can now unlock pretty much any data source. We’ve partnered with Nielsen Catalina Solutions and their frequent shopper data. We’ve matched out, we have very high match rates with all our data partners, typically in a 90 percent or greater that we’re able to match to their data set. We’re able to then hide their frequent shopper data they have in their home scan panel data, that’s for targeting and measurement.

In a general sense, what is the biggest mistake marketers make when it comes to the use of location data?

It’s such a hot button for me and there are two aspects to it. One is, there’s this sort of myth among marketers and agencies we hear all the time: if it’s about advertising to a mobile device, just build a geofence. That’s the best way to target, right? Not necessarily.

Our fundamental core is that marketers you want to reach the right audience first. That’s why it’s important to be able to know who the device belongs to and be able to tie it back to meaningful data.

As I mentioned, if I know where you live, I know how many kids you have and what ages they are, I know what car you drive, I know how much you paid for your house, or if you have a house, I know what shampoo you buy.

I’m going to quote Dr. Phil. One of his favorite quotes is, “The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.” I like to use that same line, the best predictor of future purchases is past purchases. We’re big fans of purchase data for targeting.

So first, identify the right audience and then use location — not just as a targeting trigger. It’s for understanding the consumer. A lot of companies say, “The new cookie is ‘location.’ Where people go in the real word, or where you go is who you are.”

I say, “That’s not really true.” Who you are is really what you buy and who you are, where you live and all that. Where you happen to be passing by is further on down that list.

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.