5 Marketing Measurement Trends to Watch

May 2, 2019 Ben Samuel, VP, EMEA Sales, Nielsen

Today, we have access to more information than ever before. As a result, consumers are making smarter buying decisions and marketers have amassed greater quantities of data.

Instead of a one-way funnel from brand to consumer, the era of the conversation has begun. An increasing array of channels, devices and platforms have splintered mass communication into thousands of niche outlets, each catering to a specific audience.

Customer journeys are now longer, and journeys that have more touchpoints produce more data:

  • Customer interactions more than tripled from 2014 to 2017—surpassing 3 billion
  • The average person has four to six connected devices
  • 25% use three devices daily
  • More than 79% of consumers switch devices mid-activity
  • U.S. adults average nearly three hours a day on mobile
  • YouTube viewers watch more than 1 billion hours of videos a day

The average marketer doesn’t have the ability to consolidate fragmented data to understand the influence of touchpoints across channels. Analyzing marketing effectiveness is arduous as marketers struggle to get accurate and actionable results.

Given this environment, here five trends marketers should watch to prepare for an increasingly complex customer journey.

1. The Need for Multi-Touch Attribution Will Grow

As you get longer journeys and more devices, all of that adds up to more touchpoints on a journey to a purchase or conversion. This makes the case for last-touch attribution even weaker and the case for multi-touch attribution even stronger.

With more touchpoints, the idea that you can use the final touchpoint to base all your decisions on becomes even more risky. That last touchpoint represents an even smaller proportion of the overall number of touchpoints. You’re making decisions based on an even smaller sample size and will make worse and worse decisions.

> Takeaway: Added complexity, more touchpoints, and longer journeys make a strong case for a strategy that involves multi-touch attribution.

2. New Channels Will Require Greater Granularity

We’re going from a world where, a few years ago, a digital media plan would be very heavily focused on Google and Facebook. There are now three or four more players in the social space such as Snap and Pinterest, and rare is the advertiser using a single DSP. That is creating additional complexity.

It’s no longer good enough for your measurement to function at a channel level. If you take social as an example, you could be outputting data at the channel level, yet under the channel level there are so many choices that you need to make.

It strengthens the case for having a measurement strategy that will deliver outputs at the level at which media buyers need it, which is below the channel level. Even within a single publisher or platform environment, there are endless decisions that a buyer needs to make including placement, size, creative and more.

> Takeaway: Implement output that is as granular as possible and is at a level of granularity that matches the decision making of your media buyers.

3. Coverage Gaps Will Deepen

Coverage is going to become more important in the coming years. Global platforms such as Google, Facebook, and Snap are growing faster, in most cases, than local publishers and platforms. While local (single market-based vendors) will likely be able to build relationships to track touchpoints from local platforms, they are unlikely to be able to strike those deals with global platforms.

The ability to work with both local and global players is becoming more important as global platforms become choosier about which partners they allow to measure their media. Focusing on a partner who has relationships with global publishers and platforms is key. It makes sense to work with measurement partners who have a strong global footprint.

> Takeaway:  Look for partners who can deliver coverage today and will be able to provide that coverage in the future.

4. Cookies Will Lose Utility

A few years ago, access to track across all digital media was a given. No one was restricting access. You had to get your pixel certified and that was as hard as it got. Those days are gone.

The future of the cookie as a tracking mechanism is not a long-term proposition. The ability to use cookies is gradually degrading as browsers and certain publishers and platforms take steps to limit their use. We are approaching a point where the cookie ceases to function as the mechanism to measure digital advertising.

Advertisers need to ask how a vendor will operate in a "post-cookie" world. One way is the ability to strike partnerships to operate behind the firewall, but even that may not be enough.

Another way advertisers can plug the data gap is panel data. Advertisers should be looking at measurement companies’ ability to use panels: how good are they, how big, in which markets. Once you’ve got behind the firewall and you’ve got panels, think about what else can you do to capture new devices such as smart TVs and OTT.

> Takeaway: Think about partnering with companies that have a robust roadmap for a cookie-less future.

5. Identifying Customers Will Become More Difficult

Being able to identify the customer will become increasingly challenging in the post-cookie world. One of the fundamentals of measurement is ID resolution. If you don’t have cookies and you have multiple devices, ID resolution becomes very difficult.

When you consider the increasingly complex path-to-purchase, advertisers’ focus needs to move from mapping the customer journey to optimizing media to deliver against KPIs.

In the media space, you can’t control or predict where a consumer will potentially engage next with your media. You can target certain groups but you can’t create a linear customer journey.

Rather than trying to do the impossible—inserting specific ads or force ads into a journey at certain points—measure performance to gain actionable insights for improvement.

> Takeaway: Don’t try to map your customers’ journey. Instead, optimize your overall media mix to drive against your KPIs.

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