Catalina and 4Info Offer a Glimpse into the Future of Mobile Advertising

A once-impossible objective for digital marketers was 1:1 matching between online ad exposures and offline store visits and purchases. Hence the historical focus on e-commerce, which was much easier to track.

But tracking and matching users is getting a lot more sophisticated notwithstanding the decline of the cookie. For example, Facebook is matching "hashed" users (Facebook ID, email, phone) with offline actions and purchases through data partnerships such as Acxiom, Epsilon and Datalogix.

These data partnerships also allow for more flavors of demographic or audience targeting to occur online on Facebook. This is part of Facebook's Custom Audiences program.

In mobile specifically one of the things that has held back mobile ad spending has been the inability to show ROI on a per-campaign basis. However that's starting to change with efforts from PlaceIQ, Placed, xAd and others. Placed and PlaceIQ are starting to measure store visits in response to mobile ad exposures to show lift (this is something we'll be exploring in detail at Placed in October).

Indeed, online-to-store tracking will be mandatory for mobile ad networks within 12 months. Networks will need to be able to offer agencies and marketers a sense of the "Place Visit Rate" (a PlaceIQ metric) resulting from the campaign. Already today, however, there are examples of programs that represent the future of mobile marketing -- and one that achieves the formerly impossible goal of near 1:1 matching.  

 

Earlier this year Catalina introduced BuyerVision Mobile. It was created in partnership with 4Info and offers marketers the ability to target mobile shoppers based on purchase history (using store loyalty card data) and then "close the loop" through in-store purchase reporting. 

Over the course of the past 24 months 4Info -- formerly an SMS marketing platform -- has created a database of "110 million devices in 97 million households." The company claims that it has achieved a "90% direct match to NCS, DLX and Acxiom data sets." That's also true of the Catalina purchase history data.

Catalina and 4Info know exactly who their consumers are but have "hashed" IDs, yet matched these individuals in their respective databases. Thus when Huggies wants to target buyers of Pampers (smartphone moms), it can be done with almost 100% certainty. And when those individuals appear in stores and make purchases, those data are captured by Catalina and matched with the 4Info data to show whether the mobile ad exposure provided an actual in-store sales lift -- for each campaign. 

There are a number of privacy concerns that are immediately raised, though both 4Info and Catalina say there's no individual/PII targeting. Putting aside the privacy discussion for the moment, the Catalina-4Info model is pretty clearly the future of mobile targeting and ad measurement. 

And it's a future that is a great deal more nuanced, sophisticated and "closed loop" than 90% of current digial ad paradigms.