Razorfish's Kathuria likewise sees "a bit of an objectivity issue given publishers owning these solutions will probably be biased toward the efficacy of their inventory.”
Despite how it looks, though, this is a significant step in the analytics and measurement space. Major media companies’ moves to acquire multitouch attribution companies (and engineering talent) indicates an acknowledgment that there remain deficiencies in understanding the complexities around measuring the ROI of media both on and offline, and acting on it, Moffett noted.
Additionally, "it was about acquiring a white-glove type service organization that can help clients implement and make sense of those [cross-channel] insights."
This leads in to another lingering question – the role of the agency, which has historically been responsible for measuring much of an advertisers’ cross-channel mix, now that the media companies themselves are bringing the tools in-house.
“I think from the agency perspective, there certainly is a little bit of a church and state issue in that we work with media companies and we see from clients question marks around, ‘Does this mean AOL now has a view into all of my activity?’” said Adam Gitlin, global managing director of the data group for agency Omnicom’s data management division Annalect.
But publishers recognize that, or should.
“AOL knows that we’re going to look at that, with our clients – the activity on Convertro,” Gitlin said. “ That doesn’t mean it’ll prevent us from working with Convertro as a discreet solution. Will we see a massive 'jumping ship' off Convertro and Adometry as a result? Definitely not.”
However, Gitlin does foresee a reevaluation of how marketers think about defining their data and the variety of parties that touch it in some form. “It will force marketers to rethink what is really important from their campaigns and where they draw lines around it.”