Foot traffic attribution, which ties ads to consumer actions, is a challenge marketers have long struggled to solve. As we progress further into the digital age, more companies are advertising through online and offline channels, making it harder to establish which ad campaigns are working and which may be a waste of resources and ad spend. Keep reading to understand the different kinds of attribution and ways location data can improve your foot traffic attribution measurements.
Why Is Attribution So Elusive?
Because there are so many ways you can measure it. And each way, it seems, comes with a degree of uncertainty. Put simply, attribution is elusive because different types of data reside in disparate systems. With data spread out here, there and everywhere, it’s hard to arrive at a metric you can rely on and consider water-tight. The Mobile Marketing Association explains multitouch attribution with its Multi-Touch Attribution Data Map. While it covers all types of attribution, it also shows just how complicated attribution is. So where does one start?
The Attribution Continuum
There are different ways marketers use to measure attribution. These methods can be ranked in terms of difficulty. This list starts at easy and progresses through hard.
- Coupon codes.
- Location data.
- Pixel tracking.
- Point-of-sale integrations.
Marketers have long tried to solve for foot traffic attribution by asking, “How did you hear about us?” While this is straightforward and allows marketers to assess different channels, both online and offline, the data is not reliable. Most consumers don’t complete surveys like this, or they may misremember. As a result, the data tends to be unreliable.
Another simple way to measure the impact of a campaign is through coupon codes. These are best used for campaign or promotional attribution and less useful for understanding which channel led to a conversion or sale.
Using location data, marketers can measure the conversion rate between the audience that was targeted and those who visited the store. This forms the backbone of foot traffic attribution.
Pixel tracking adds another layer to digital marketing strategies. With pixel tracking, the marketing team knows who was served the ad and who actually saw it. Using location data, marketers can then measure foot traffic, match it to the audience served the ads, and show ROI for that campaign.
The most difficult end of the continuum includes POS data, integrated into the other tracking methods. With a range of systems and some data science, marketers can connect ad exposure to real-world visits and actual sales.
Enter Foot Traffic Attribution
Marketers who work with retailers or brands that have multiple brick-and-mortar locations (auto dealers, amusement parks, event venues, etc.) can use foot traffic attribution. This is a more straightforward approach because you only need two types of data that can be easily tied together.
The ingredients for foot traffic attribution are ad data and visit data. Ad data relates to media and the different channels through which marketers serve it. Location data relates to people who were exposed to the media and the locations a marketer is trying to get people to visit.
How Foot Traffic Attribution Works
For foot traffic attribution, a marketer starts with an audience created from location data. For easy math, let’s say the audience size is 100,000 people. The marketer would then push this audience — made up of mobile ad IDs — into a demand-side platform, a social media channel or any combination thereof. Ad platforms do not always match the list of mobile ad IDs at 100%, so let’s say there was a 75% match rate, meaning 75,000 people can now be targeted. Lastly, using location data, the marketer can see the impact the campaign has on in-store traffic by measuring the number of devices that came back during the campaign period from the original audience of 75,000.
Three Questions To Ask
Let’s bring this all together and set out some steps you can take to get started on foot traffic attribution, no matter how simple or sophisticated your current tech stack may be.
First, define what attribution means to your company or client. Does it mean getting people to visit a certain location? More specifically, does it mean getting them there on a specific date or at a specific time? Does it mean having people buy something while they’re there? It could even mean getting an audience to buy a single SKU or spend more than they usually do.
Next, determine an acceptable ROI. Are you measuring traffic — how many people showed up at a certain location? Or, getting far more granular, are you measuring sales per square foot? Your ROI goal may be best made in collaboration with other teams — product, sales and finance, to name a few.
Finally, get familiar with the location data products available on the market. They are not all created equal. There are variations in data quality, software ease of use, customer service, privacy compliance, scalability, POI accuracy and more. Your foot traffic attribution efforts depend on these criteria. This location data primer for marketers is a good place to start.
To learn more about foot traffic attribution, download the whitepaper “Foot Traffic Attribution and the Digital Marketer”.