So Many Channels, So Many Paths.

It seems that most of the 3pas technology providers are squarely on the Path-to-Conversion (P2C) band wagon at this point. Last year DoubleClick revealed their Exposure to Conversion report to much acclaim by agencies and marketers alike. Not to be outdone, Atlas soon after revealed a similar offering called engagement mapping. To add to the mix Mediaplex, a ValueClick company, also started pushing their P2C data and analytics service. All of these products try to solve the same problem, which is how do you get beyond the last click or last impression conversion attribution methodology.

Most conversion reports give credit for the conversion to the last banner a user saw or clicked on prior to converting. In other words, all of the previous interactions that a user may have had with an advertising campaign prior to converting are completely discarded when it comes to conversion counting. This assumes that only the last click or last impressions matters, but not so says the 3pas technology providers. Mediaplex claims that 70% of conversion events are influenced by multiple channels.

In analyzing aggregated results from campaigns conducted for clients over the past seven months, Mediaplex found that 70% of conversions were preceded by exposures or interactions with two or more online channels prior to the final conversion event. The analysis also revealed that 45% of the conversions credited to paid search were preceded by an exposure and/or interaction with at least one of the client's display advertising banners prior to converting.

Atlas claims that

typically, between 93-95% of audience engagements with online advertising receive no credit at all when advertisers review campaign ROI. That presents a substantial margin for missed opportunity.

Each 3pas P2C offering tackles the problem in a slightly different way. While none of these offerings are perfect, the fact that all of the major 3pas providers are playing in this space means that most advertisers are looking for a solution to this problem. Further, the 3pas players need a way to show that display advertising is still relevant in the face of mounting pressure from Google and the likes. The best way to prove the value of display is to show that customers are typically exposed to, and sometimes interact with, a banner ad prior to making a search conversion. With this tool in hand, marketers can now feel justified keeping or adding to their display advertising budgets.

All three offerings provide a lot of data for advertisers to use while analyzing their conversion paths. However, none of them provide the answers that advertisers need. Advertisers will be best served by deciding what attribution model best suits their business and going with that. It will be a long time before any of the 3pas providers produce a system that can formulate a unique attribution methodology perfect for each individual advertiser. And if any of them does, then it probably doesn’t work.

Will Google’s Chrome Help or Hurt Advertisers?

| had an interesting article today where they asked if Google's data collection via Chrome would benefit advertisers more than Chrome's "incognito" privacy setting will hurt. For those who don't already know, "Incognito" mode will cover a user's tracks while browsing. Erasing browser historiy, cookies, etc.

Google describes Incognito as follows:

For times when you want to browse in stealth mode, for example, to plan surprises like gifts or birthdays, Google Chrome offers the incognito browsing mode. Webpages that you open and files downloaded while you are incognito won't be logged in your browsing and download histories; all new cookies are deleted after you close the incognito window. You can browse normally and in incognito mode at the same time by using separate windows.

...surprise gifts or birthdays, lol, good one. Nonetheless, there are other browsers out there that offer similar features. More so, users have been capable of disabling cookies and the storing of browsing history for some time now - these features are not new. One has to ask if Google is confident that "Incognito" will end up on the same proverbial shelf as ad blocking. It is clear that most users don't care enough to turn these features on, so why should "Incognito" be any different? I put my money on Chrome helping more than hurting. In the end, Google has been very good at turning data and information into new and exciting products and features for their clients. So the more they know, the better off adverrtisers will be.

Gap Widens in Online Advertising

The following article, which talks about the decrease spending on display (banner) advertising, appeared in the today. What this article indicates is that, in a tighter economy, markters and agencies are moving their display advertising dollars over to search advertising - a presumably safer and much more measurable channel. Assuming that there is some truth to this claim, what does that mean for companies like Google, Microsoft, and WPP who spent billions last year fighting over and eventually purchaing some of the leaders in the display marketing space? As the display business takes a hit, which this article indicates, DoubleClick is not necessarily worth as much now as it did a year ago. One may argue that they are a good hedge for future pendulum swings in advertising purchasing, but how much of a hedge? DoubleClick's revenues are a drop in the bucket compared to those of Google, so how much of a diversification in earnings will the $3 billion investment be? 

The article is certainly right about one thing, technologies like DoubleClick's AdExchange aren't seeing the adoption rates that everyone hoped. It appears that marketers are too fascinated and knee deep in analytics and reports to start looking at other technologies. That is, optimization of current online efforts seems to take precedence. And with the huge amounts of data available today, these same marketers may be preoccupied with this optimization for  years to come.

Spending on Internet advertising is climbing at a healthy clip -- rising 20% in the U.S. in the second quarter -- and growth forecasts are strong despite the weak economy. But that growth isn't being enjoyed by everyone.

The gap is widening between spending on simple search ads, Google Inc.'s core turf, and spending on flashier display ads, which companies such as Yahoo Inc. and Microsoft Corp. had hoped to use to gain ground on Google.

Faced with a slowing economy, advertisers are sticking to what they view as the safest way to reach online customers directly: the plain text ...(source)

Advertising association opposes Google-Yahoo pact

It appears that there is still some stiff oposition to the proposed Google Yahoo search pact. Many advertising groups, like The Association of National Advertisers (ANA), are up in arms about the possibility of Google controlling the search market. These groups would much rather see a more competitive search landscape and fear Google raising its prices or trying to otherwise squeeze higher returns from its inventory. There are two things that these groups should certianly keep in mind.

First, Yahoo is in trouble and this may be the only certain path out of low profitability for the company. If Yahoo is forced to pass on this deal then its profitability, and indirectly their ability to innovate, will be adversely affected. This would mean that potentially Yahoo's search market share will dive as Google's increases, thereby creating an even worse scenario than the pact. If Yahoo is allowed to raise the cash from a Google pact, then why not let them. This cash can be used to evolve their search/advertising platform and keep it relevant. Second, Google already has a lion's share of the search market. Yes, this doesn't necessarily mean that they should therefore control it all, however maybe all the alarms are unnecessary.

The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) said Monday its board has registered with the U.S. Department of Justice its opposition to a planned search advertising partnership between Google Inc. and Yahoo Inc.

New York-based association said it sent a letter to Assistant U.S. Attorney General Thomas O. Barnett, citing concerns "that the partnership will likely diminish competition, increase concentration of market power, limit choices currently available and potentially raise prices to advertisers for high quality, affordable search advertising." (source)