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Tracing Mobile Actions to a Transaction Helps Overcome Mobile Attribution Hurdle


Tim Jenkins
CEO
4Info

Without an industry standard, various methodologies are used to measure the return on investment in mobile marketing and media. Some focus solely on measuring the lift in foot traffic, while others concentrate on sales lift. Advertising technology provider 4Info falls into the latter category. 4Info CEO Tim Jenkins and company CMO Chuck Moxley spoke with eMarketer’s Cathy Boyle about how they link offline sales to mobile ads, as well as to ads served on other screens.

eMarketer: Some people describe mobile attribution as being a mess. What are your thoughts about that assessment?

Tim Jenkins: There is a lot of confusion in the marketplace about what’s real vs. what’s snake oil, and that has been a problem from day one. When you’re talking to a platform that specializes in site visits as their primary form of attribution, they’re going to paint a picture around how they measure that and what that really means vs. someone else who says, “It’s not really an indicator of the conversion, it’s more an indicator of campaign progress.”

What really matters is being able to trace mobile actions all the way through to a transaction. Mobile is a mess only from the standpoint of marketers not understanding exactly what they get from each different attribution method.

Chuck Moxley: What you’re hearing [when you hear mobile is a mess] is the cross-screen folks who are coming from the display world, where cookies are standard. They’re trying to figure out [a new way to track mobile users] and that’s where probabilistic modeling comes in, because they don’t have another choice.

We went in the other direction. We solved the hard problem first—matching mobile devices to users in a deterministic fashion. Finding them on the desktop world is easy because there’s a standard of cookies that everybody uses.

eMarketer: How do you connect an ad served to a mobile device and then to an offline purchase?

Jenkins: We have associated mobile devices directly with home addresses—a physical address—by tracking the latitude, longitude and device IDs that we see at that particular location over an extended period of time.

“Mobile is a mess only from the standpoint of marketers not understanding exactly what they get from each different attribution method.”

Once the device is tied to that physical address, that address is used as a match point to tie to all the offline third-party and first-party data files to the device. The address is also tied to the transaction data that’s captured directly by frequent shopper card aggregators, credit card companies and retailers through their CRM [customer relationship management], to the device.

eMarketer: Can you do this matching to other screens as well?

Jenkins: We work with a third party, who has taken a large online cookie pool and rolled it up using the various forms of PII [personally identifiable information] that’s captured by that cookie, and they have tied that directly to the same physical address that we have the mobile devices tied to.

We see an ad request online in an exchange that comes through with an ID that matches the same household that we’ve associated with the mobile phones. We know that we can then serve an ad to somebody on the mobile phone when that ID pops up in mobile exchanges. We can do true sequential ad serving, frequency capping, pacing, all of those things based on that user ID that’s now tied to cookies on the online side and to mobile phones in a cookieless fashion on the mobile side.

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