Marketers to Measurers: Agree!

NEW YORK – For a medium that prides itself on measurability, the digital channel still scores very badly on data consistency across platforms. And this fact is creating major problems for ROI-obsessed marketers.

That was the consensus this morning among panelists at a DM Days session called “Convergence 2.0: Multichannel Marketing in a Digital Age.”

“None of my analytics providers collaborate,” said Elizabeth Talerman, co-founder of Campfire, the branded entertainment firm behind Audi’s “Art of the Heist” promotion. “My WebTrends doesn’t agree with DART doesn’t agree with my [in-house] performance measurement. Why is there a 30 percent difference between what DART and my 1 x 1 pixel say?”

The disagreement between measurement platforms is not a new problem for marketers using multiple analytics sources to measure their campaigns. What’s surprising isn’t that the problem exists, but that so little progress has been made to fix it.

“One of the things holding us back is the paucity of good data,” said Marta Wohrle, VP and director of digital media for Hachette Filipacchi Media. “I’m appalled that this industry that prides itself on measurability [can’t provide more consistent data]?”

Marketers may simply be in too big a hurry to have all their tools work together. After all, impression and conversion tracking in the online medium is still in its adolescence. Cookie deletion rates and the reliability of panel data, in addition to being shifting variables, are still not fully understood. According to panelist Michael Levine, director of strategic alliances for Yahoo Search Marketing, marketers shouldn’t hold their breath for complete data consistency across platforms.

“There are a number of competing ways to quantify results. Over time, it’s going to get better, but we’re probably a far ways off from [agreement across vendors],” he said.

Levine added a more immediate and addressable crisis is that marketers often don’t create incentives for their offline arms to measure the effects of online marketing. He said many big companies still track their online presence with separate P&L statements, much as they do with any regional outlet. That means offline units have zero incentive to credit the Web channel for any conversions.

Doug Bewsher, VP of consulting and analytics for Loyalty Lab, also wondered if companies bemoaning data consistency across platforms were making enough use of their existing data.

“A lot of our clients say, ‘I’ve installed this great analytics tool and it lets me email someone who drops a shopping cart. But is that enough? We spend a lot of money on data.’ Great analytics, unless we do something different because of them, is pointless,” Bewsher said.

But while internal obstructions to data management persist within many marketing organizations, there’s clearly a growing awareness of –- and frustration with –- the lack of consistency across metrics platforms.

Campfire’s Talerman said the problem isn’t stopping her from acting on the imperfect data that she does have, but she added it must be fixed. In the end, she said, it’s up to the marketing community to insist analytics platforms agree to agree.

“My plea to the marketing community that has analytics tools is, ‘How do you get it together for us?'”

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