Marchex’s Display Analytics Aims To Tell Retailers If Brand Ads Led To Calls

Marchex goes in search of the “Missing 98 percent”

Click-to-call specialist Marchex is adding display analytics to its metrics arsenal, with the promise that enterprise marketers will be able to measure when a banner or rich media ad on a desktop or mobile device influences any inbound phone call to a call center or store.

The offering is meant to show that display ads aren’t just about generating immediate clickthroughs or creating brand affinity. For years, online advertising companies have been attempting to drive a stake through the heart of “last click attribution,” which essentially credits a sale or conversion with the final action a consumer has taken.

Nail In The Coffin For ‘Last Click’

It’s a given that focusing on the “last click” ignores all the other touchpoints, online and otherwise, that have led a person along the “path to purchase.” The challenge is how to properly and accurately determine what has influenced a consumer between the first exposure to an ad and when they decide to buy that advertised product or service.

Marchex Display Analytics, as the new tool is called, is billed as the solution that will show whether or not brand ads ultimately drove a click-to-call purchase. The addition of this tool is meant to complement last year’s introduction of Marchex’s measurement program connecting search ads and click-to-call, said Adarsh Nair, the Seattle company’s senior director of Product and Engineering.

Marchex’s Adarsh Nair

Making A Good 500,000th Impression

“Our thinking was, ‘We have a great product for search, how does display and click-to-call work?’” Nair said. “Specifically, we were working with our agency partner [Omnicom media shop] OMD on figuring that out.”

Marchex started from the premise that when a display ad is seen for the first time, it doesn’t immediately prompt a viewer to call a business. But Marchex had done studies that indicated display ads did factor into a later purchase.

“The goal was to find exactly where in the $27 billion of ad spending happening in the display market is leading to the $1 trillion in sales triggered by calls,” Nair said. “That’s the foundation of Marchex Display Analytics product. ”

On average, it takes about 500,000 display impressions to drive a single phone call directly from a display ad, Nair said, though using view-through display attribution (where the consumer sees the ad and then converts at a later time) it takes only 8,000 impressions to influence a phone call.

“Display and search do drive calls together, but the attribution tends to be off,” Nair said. “This new measurement product is intended to correct that.”

The Missing 98 Percent

Marchex’s John Busby

Marchex believes that by adding the display metrics to its search analytics, it can discover what it has identified as “the Missing 98.” That figure is meant to specifically show why display doesn’t get credit for driving calls. As Marchex sees it, 98 percent of phone calls occur as much as two weeks after exposure to a display ad. This prevents marketers from identifying and then properly adjusting their spending to create a top-performing display campaigns.

“We are now able to show what ads were seen and how many times by a person who makes a call to a business based on exposure to that display unit,” Nair said. “We can also show who saw the ad, whether they then conducted a search, and whether all that activity led to a sale. It closes the attribution loop around search and display rather than pitting the two formats against each other.”

Marchex Display Analytics is being integrated with the demand-side platforms under programmatic operators Rocket Fuel and MediaMath.

The categories that Marchex believes will make use of the analytics program are likely to include enterprises with national call centers, particularly those in the financial services, telco, cable/satellite providers, and hospitality, said John Busby, Marchex’s SVP of Consumer Insights & Marketing.

“Some of these call centers get tens of millions of calls and it’s become undeniable that most of those calls come from media exposure, particularly on a mobile device or on the PC,” Busby said. “The clients that we’ve been running trials with have been blown away by how many calls we can show that have been influenced by what has been seen in display ad. But more click-to-call, this product shows how businesses can close that online-to-offline attribution question is a clearer, larger, and different way than they’re able to do otherwise.”