Retail And Ad Tech Team Up To Compete With Google For Brick-And-Mortar Business

placedThe realm of brick-and-mortar retail data has been steadily absorbed by digital technology in recent years, and that trend took another step forward on Wednesday with the launch of the Cross Device Marketplace by Placed, an in-store attribution firm.

While Facebook and Google have put considerable effort into developing retail-specific solutions, Placed founder and CEO David Shim said the company is combining its own brick-and-mortar tracking capabilities with the analytic services of cross-device companies to “enable a checkbox option for measuring store lift that can be introduced to any campaign.”

Crosswise, BlueCava, Drawbridge and Tapad are the four initial partners in the marketplace.

Typically, a discussion of cross-device challenges revolves around the difficulty of matching mobile data with the more reliable desktop tracking. But in this case, the challenge was expanding the mobile-only limitations of retail tech to account for other digital channels.

Tapad founder and CEO Are Traasdahl said Placed’s decision to license digital tech from cross-device marketers means that its core service – measuring the in-store lift of campaigns run through mobile, in-app ads – is extended to include “ads served to desktop users, tablet users, or any combination, and [to] tie those exposures to the consumer who visited the [store].”

But the benefits flow both ways, allowing companies established in cross-device tracking to enter the offline world for the first time (without paying for third-party services like LiveRamp or Datalogix). Crosswise, for instance, already has a cross-device attribution service, but it “can now refer [clients] to the Placed marketplace to add offline attribution to the mix,” said company co-founder and CEO Steven Glanz.

Facebook and Google loom over all the decisions of cross-device attribution providers, and the same is true once those companies step into the physical world of retail data. Placed’s Shim said he noticed clients were taking the Placed in-store data and layering it over DoubleClick or Atlas reports. The new Cross Device Marketplace is in many ways the open ecosystem’s response to that problem.

As with many ad tech vendors, Placed’s goal is to create scale through a series of partnerships, and then distinguish its combined service from Google’s cohesive service by emphasizing flexibility for the marketer.

Shim noted that Google optimizes for the same metrics driving this product – overall store visits for users exposed to an ad and the cost per store visit – but the decision to license tech from a host of attribution providers “offers options … so [clients] can pick and choose who they work with based on clients’ campaign goals,” as opposed to Google, which wants clients to work with Google.

And while the new market isn’t in and of itself a revenue driver, Shim’s hope is that large retail budgets can be shifted away from big, closed platforms if a network of partners can demonstrate ROI and offer brands more “options and flexibility” in choosing vendors for specific campaigns.

BlueCava CPO Manish Ahuja made a similar point, noting that “marketers will begin to see more meaningful analytics significantly improve their ROI on campaigns,” with revenue as a second-order benefit. “However, connecting offline behavior to online behavior doesn’t happen on its own,” he said.

The marketplace is designed primarily for retail companies – it is, after all, a tool that narrowly analyzes brick-and-mortar impacts for campaigns. GumGum marketing SVP Ben Plomion said it’s a key step for servicing retail clients that have “been able to track POS sales on products for a while now… but they’re more concerned with the number of people we can drive into their stores.”

Shim was quick to note that while the marketplace represents a “checkbox” solution, meaning it’s just one more tool for an attribution dashboard, the product has implications for anything from toy companies to kitchenware manufacturers, which often feature co-branded marketing, i.e., “Find us at your local Toys R Us.”

Tapad’s Traasdahl also said that within verticals like auto dealers and fast-food chains, the new partnership will help the digital-first attribution companies get to “the only final metric that truly matters: ‘Did the customer come to my location and make a purchase?’”


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