This is gonna hurt… Tom Dosland at Jaws.

Mobile video, and our race to keep up with MarTech!

This winter saw another incredible season of surf on Hawaii’s north shores, but I had to miss out. Noooo! Why, you might ask? Well, it’s been another year of massive change in marketing technology, our clients are demanding more and more, and to be quite honest, our team has been working overtime to stay ahead. Some days we feel like Tom Dosland looking down into the chasm of Jaws.

Let’s talk MarTech for a moment.

Since opening our little analytics company in 2010, things have changed dramatically. The stakes have risen much higher in the past few years to meet the demands of customers in the digital world. Just look at the number of startups cranking out amazing code, all trying to disrupt this lucrative industry. Yes, some of these tools are simply incredible, but at some point you have to question the sanity of trying to keep up with all the new technology. Take a look at the complexity we’re dealing with here:

This is nuts! Thanks @chiefmartec (I think.)

The ironic thing is, each of these MarTech companies represent a technology that’s actually designed to simplify marketing activity. The biggest problem has been in integrating them to work together, managing the data, and creating relevant reports that actually provide a clear picture of what’s going on. No simple task.

Thank God for Segment and Google Tag Manager! Not to mention the guys at RedShift and many more. As bad as things are, without them, we would be in a world of hurt like Tom was at Peahi on Maui’s north shore.

For the past two years, I’ve sunk at least a full day out of each week into testing new tools, reading documentation, browsing reviews, and keeping up with Quora posts on all this new MarTech and advertising technology.

To what end?

Well, fortunately, for our clients, it still boils down to measuring what works to provide value to customers. I wrote in my article about the smartest companies that it’s not about the tools, it’s about the value they provide at each customer touch point. So, we developed a system of tracking based on ‘who, what, when and why’ where if a touch point tag didn’t track something directly related to just a few KPIs around acquisition, behaviors or outcomes, it simply wasn’t included.

A few basic KPIs still work, because people gravitate to simple solutions.

Yet the push for new tools and technology to solve all our problems seems endless. So we simply have to keep up in order to integrate and track them all. Or do we? Well I’m going to push back a bit on the latest hype train, because it seems like everyone is now headed full-steam down the road of complexity again with rise of attribution data and modeling systems.

What’s all the buzz about attribution?

It’s the holy grail of marketing they say. It sounds sexy. After all, who wouldn’t want to know which parts of a media campaign worked the best to drive ROI? And what parts do we fix?

It answers John Wanamaker’s problem — “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”

In the ideal world, we could measure every single touch point of every single user, and then determine what actually drove growth. Much has been done in ad tech recently, such as cross-device tracking and beacons, to try and solve this challenge. Hell, Google just launched a very expensive new platform — Google Analytics 360 Suite — just to prove which half is working.

Quote on Google Analytics 360 website

But if we’re all honest with each other, there are still massive holes in our data sets. Who tracked the billboard ads I saw for Taco Bell driving to work today? What about all television ads I watched during last month’s college basketball tournament, delivered on a national broadcast, with no household tracking, much less, cookie-based tracking?

The truth is, marketing campaigns will always have things that can’t be tracked.

In reality, huge pieces of the customer journey are missing attribution data, so it’s not the killer app many make it out to be. And while many of us track for e-commerce, people are still spending incredible sums money the old-fashioned way. Only 3 percent of Target and Wal-Mart’s sales are online, and Ecommerce is only about 7 percent of U.S. retail sales.

Despite this, the push to advertise through digital channels is barreling in on us like a tsunami from the Pacific. Here’s what the next wave is looking like from a digital marketer’s perspective according to Forrester:

Forrester Research Digital Marketing Forecasts, 2014–2019 (US)

At $59B in 2015, they were slightly off the mark, but the U.S. Internet advertising market could still grow to over $100 billion by 2019! That beats the growth on some of my client’s MAU charts for sure. I don’t know about you, but I know my inbox can’t take any more. Either way though, we’re in for a ton of marketing thanks primarily to two words…

Mobile. Video.

Yup. The streamers gotta have it! Millennials don’t know what cable is, and YouTube, Twitch and SnapChat are blowing up. We can expect a lot of ads. I mean a LOT. Just look at those numbers for display and search. For us, that means attribution models and reports galore, and a TON of data. Fun fact: 90 per cent of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone, and it’s expected to grow at a rate of 40% per year! Wow!

So, what does a sleep-deprived analytics & data team do?

Well, we can’t change the attribution craze, so we’ll do what we can to help fill the holes in the data. One of the biggest problems I see is that the media companies are missing data from offline purchases. Knowing how their campaigns affect actual purchases, rather than CTRs, is critical to measuring what’s working to drive real customer value — the sale!

This data doesn’t have to be on an individual basis, but if we can show a media buyer that sales are dropping in LA, but spiking in New York, they can take action based on that data.

We need to be ruthless in gauging the value of new media — particularly with the explosion of mobile video. It requires us to get away from just using CTR and last-click attribution to determine what’s working. We need to be able to feed offline data from actual purchases into the equation.

So, we’ve decided to take the plunge into the #DigitalMedia space. Gravital has developed a few new partnerships. One includes the talents of Space Coast Ad Fed president, Eric Needle, who recently joined forces with us. We’ve also partnered with Bizible for B2B insights that integrate sales data from CRM platforms such as Salesforce, and with Cardlytics for B2C insights that integrate consumer purchase data from credit card purchases.

What’s needed to drive growth is a combination of creative campaigns, excellent media targeting, and unparalleled data analysis and reporting. We’re prepared. With that, I’m pleased to announce the launch of our sister company, Gravital Digital. We’ve broken out the big guns for the coming wave with several programmatic platforms, attribution tools, and a team of talented analysts to handle the swell.

What’s our plan for winning the race? What else? Performance! — An Unrelenting Focus on Performance

So, we’re paddling out, and our goal is to deliver the juiciest attribution data, phenomenal ROAS using programmatic, and some epic optimization analysis to agencies and in-house marketing teams.

We believe our team can deliver higher agency/client ROIs through data.

Wish us luck, and we’ll keep you updated here.