There’s still no magic pill that ties advertising to outcomes.
Take Lyft, which can connect metrics to spend in display and search, but has trouble measuring across channels.
But because it has difficulty uniting data around brand marketing, referral programs or brand ambassador outreach, its marketing strategy is largely built around user acquisition (UA), said Sherry Lin, senior manager of growth marketing operations at Lyft, speaking at Tune’s Postback conference in Seattle on Friday.
Atom, a movie ticketing app backed by Lionsgate, Disney and Twentieth Century Fox Film, is also stymied by silos.
“When we look at one single channel, we’re successful at understanding that channel,” said John Gibbons, product principal at Atom. “When we start trying to integrate all of the channels together, it becomes a little foggy.”
But even just within the UA universe, measuring return on ad spend can be a monumental effort. Lyft has dozens of marketing vendor partners, and they vary in their sophistication.
Although Lyft partners with a third-party provider to handle the integrations and help aggregate and normalize the data, it’s still a “huge amount of work” to determine the acquisition costs, Lin said.
Lyft has an internal tracking system for URLs to monitor web conversions (primarily driver acquisition) and works with Tune to track mobile app installs, which is mostly on the rider acquisition side.
Lin and her team try to get as granular as possible in order to adjust spend by partner, ad creative and keyword. “We ingest all of that, connect spend with our funnel metrics and out comes the ROI,” she said.
But app marketers like Lyft, born in a mobile world, are some of the most experienced performance advertisers out there.
More traditional players like Viacom are still flying by the seat of their pants, especially as they begin embracing new channels such as connected TV.
“On mobile, there are all sorts of great vendors, it’s well known and people have sort of figured it out,” said Eric Lau, VP of partner management and audience development at Viacom, where he looks after the network’s mobile and ad-supported TV everywhere apps.
But vendors in the CTV space are “not quite there yet,” Lau said. “Some have excellent data and some have kind of shoddy data.”
And even putting quality aside, it’s a headache to try and combine the “mishmash” into a single, coherent view, he said.
“We want to be able to compare our spend on mobile with TV, but as much as I try to look at the same types of data points and metrics, to keep those things apples to apples is not always possible,” Lau said. “Even though we’re an old company, we’re new to this and the systems we have built are more focused on traditional marketing.”