With Atlas Online-to-Offline Conversion Tracking Goes Mainstream

The online and offline worlds are coming together in multiple ways. For some time I’ve been talking about how in the near future offline measurement will be imperative for digital marketing platforms and networks.

No longer will it be sufficient to report just impressions and clicks — or any other online only actions. Marketers large and small will want to know about actual visits and offline conversions. It’s still the case that more than 90% of US retail transactions happen offline.

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 8.44.14 AM

Before mobile devices this kind of tracking was extremely difficult. You could survey users after the fact, run campaigns with coupons or you could undertake expensive and complex media mix modeling. However because clicks and online conversions were much easier to measure, most digital marketers focused their conversion tracking on online forms and e-commerce. Over time calls kicked in as a proxy for offline conversions and an important tracking metric.

The lack of offline conversion tracking produced an incomplete picture of campaign effectiveness. Now with geofencing, smartphone tracking, CRM/payment matching and indoor location, tracking offline conversions is getting easier.

Last night Facebook relaunched Atlas, the ad-serving platform it acquired from Microsoft in 2013. The new platform promises better audience-based targeting and cross-device measurement. What was also very interesting to me was the promise of “online-to-offline measurement.”

On the Atlas site the company says:

Atlas allows advertisers to measure which channels, platforms and publishers within their online campaigns impacted the actual sales that happened in-store. Bringing new transparency to the online touchpoints that drive buyer behavior, Atlas connects offline purchase data with online campaigns to show a more complete view of their marketing effectiveness.

There’s no precise discussion of offline tracking methodology. However Facebook works with Datalogix currently and otherwise employs a number of different methodologies to track offline conversions. Atlas competitor DoubleClick enables offline conversion tracking via advertisers’ own database uploads, but this is more narrow than what I believe Atlas is offering.

Regardless of the precise methodology, the larger point is that offline conversion tracking is starting to go mainstream with these two ad-serving platforms now offering it and mobile marketing platforms starting to report on in-store lift and place visit rates. Within three years there won’t be a digital campaign for a real-world retailer or brand that doesn’t include offline conversion tracking.

If you’re attending SMX East I’m moderating a panel called Attribution Success In The Age Of Mobile on Wednesday. You won’t want to miss it.

You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed.

2 Responses to “With Atlas Online-to-Offline Conversion Tracking Goes Mainstream”

  1. Jeremy Retailigence says at

    Most open-minded marketers intuitively understand that a shopper clicking on a “Find It Nearby” button within a Brand manufacturer’s ad unit will increase the sales of that product in-store.  But organizational charts, responsibilities and KPIs sometimes prevent what makes sense, from actually being implemented.  Online-to-Online has affiliate networks for tracking.  Pure offline has widely accepted data sources and models from Nielsen and others to track.  Measuring online-to-offline conversion and attribution will have a significant ripple impact on new KPIs and hence new responsibilities and change in company org charts.  DMA-level cross-retailer correlations between sales trends and media spend & engagement is a good start.  One-to-one shopper measurement sounds ideal but has many gaps and privacy restrictions.  I’m seeing second-by-second correlations between store-level SKU-level path-to-purchase guidance (based on real-time inventory) and store-level SKU-level in-store transactions now being accepted as the best happy medium between “scale” and solid “statistical significance.” 

  2. Greg Sterling says at

    Explain the latter metric: you’re saying that marketers and brands you’re working with are using SKU-level in-store transactions as a success metric or KPI?

Leave a Reply