Digital Attribution with cookies

How Does Digital Tracking Work Across Sites Down to the Action?

With the 2015 holiday shopping season already looming ahead, here are some of the ways that brands are building 360° profiles through cross-site tracking.

Techniques for digital tracking across sites are becoming a crucial tool for digital marketers. The waning reliability of traditional cookie files and the explosion of multi-device browsing has led to a transformation in the way brands are putting faces and names behind the clicks.

More precise targeting is the ultimate goal, with many digital marketing agencies and future-conscious brands pursuing the lofty ideal of perfect personalization and complete customer profiles. Some aspirational firms are even trying to bring their attribution techniques to connect in-store purchases with digital browsing.

With the 2015 holiday shopping season already looming and billions of dollars at stake, brands are using varying methods to build more realistic pictures of their potential customers.

Christmas Cookies

Just like their titular snack, cookie files are addictive but slowly revealing themselves to be best consumed in moderation. Just a few years ago, cookies were the standard method for tracking consumer movement from site to site. One simple file could be used to stockpile information that helped client servers tailor ads and recommendations for returning visitors.

With the rising popularity of multi-device browsing and a decline in browser support, marketers are being forced to rethink their reliance on cookie-based tracking.

There are several alternatives that exist, most of them having to do with single sign-on services so that a user can log into their Facebook or Google+ account to access profiles for each ecommerce or content site. But the challenge for this is having consumers log in and out for each visit.

More sophisticated methods that reduce the dependency on log-ins use data to build probabilistic consumer profiles. The browsing habits of one user can pinpoint their identity even as they switch devices or loan out a device for others to use. That way, a grown man will not be targeted for fairy princess castles after his daughter uses the tablet.

These probabilistic attribution models also allow brands to build out different consumer personas and micro-target segments based on similarities between their behaviors. Brands that harness this power could learn more about which products to suggest based on past browsing habits.

Attribution in the Real World

At Annalect, we link offline transactions to online exposures through our data management platform for our clients who have transactional data, all while ensuring compliance with our clients’ usage, access, security and retention requirements. By doing this, we create a single source of data for all of our clients’ business, identify their customers’ path to purchase by connecting mobile and desktop data and therefore optimize the channel that will drive conversions. If 93% of a retailer’s sales are occurring in the store, it may seem like a good idea to decrease the online budget and increase in-store advertising to optimize conversions; however, the retailer may see sales then decrease because the driver that was bringing customers to the store was an online advertisement or email campaign. This approach is the only way forward for retailers that want to capitalize on the efforts of their digital marketing crews.

Another method of connecting physical purchases with online browsing is through promotions. A promotional code given through email or offer sites can be scanned in-store to provide a direct link to the sales funnel of delivering the coupon.

Even more succinct, proximity marketing tracks online behaviors to deliver in-store customers targeted offers based on that buyer’s supposed preferences. Devices like beacons help make this capability a reality.

This latter method is able to meld cross-site browsing with in-store browsing. As more purchases are connected with the digital sales funnels that led customers there, physical stores can step up their game on digital marketing to truly leverage the power of digital data. Hopefully, more brands will adopt this approach to empower the retail community with the true potential that data has for driving purchases.

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