Thinknear, Placed To Show Mobile Ad Impact On Foot Traffic

Among the many links still missing in mobile marketing’s ROI chain is the impact that display advertising has on driving store traffic. Oh, hell -- we're still not even sure if online display does that very effectively. But in the case of mobile, the device can act as a tracking and verification tool. Blend together the right technology and you should be able to tell whether someone who saw an ad for your retail brand on their phone eventually entered your store. Well -- you could do it theoretically if everyone opted in to such tracking.

Local mobile ad platform Thinknear has partnered with location analytics firm Placed to create a less invasive way of tracking the impact of mobile advertising on shopper behavior. The companies announced this morning a campaign add-on that allows retailers to correlate mobile ad exposure with store traffic. The model uses Placed's opt-in panel of over 100,000 app users to track post-impression activities among those exposed and un-exposed to a campaign. Because Placed's panel allows their locations to be logged, it can calculate a lift in foot traffic from a Thinknear-run campaign.

Thinknear CEO Eli Portnoy tells Mobile Marketing Daily that this kind of performance metrics is the next step that mobile marketing must take after years of focusing on the targeting capabilities of the medium. “The intent is to drive great performance. Attribution has been the missing piece. These are not proxies, but actual people in the door.”

Well -- not all the people in the door, but a fair calculation based on extrapolating from the performance within the Placed panel of 100,000. Placed CEO Dave Shim says “We match up our panel to those who have been exposed to an ad on their network. Based on ad impressions, did they go into a store?” Once they have calculated the lift in store visits for the panel, they model out from the sample in the panel to project for the actual audience that was reached by the ad. “Then we can back out to store visits based on that metric.”

Thinknear clients have already tested the feature on select campaigns. And while they are not revealing any benchmarks as yet, “we see positive trends,” says Shim. Portnoy adds that this approach eliminates the proxies for performance that can be a hard sell to media buyers. “We always knew we had good results because we see the engagement metrics like time spent. We were excited when the data we saw from Placed was a really easy number to understand.”

Shim stresses that this is not simply a post-campaign add-on but a tool that can also optimize campaigns. “We highlight what demographics, geographies and who over-indexes for being exposed to an ad and who goes in the store.” Placed is also starting to incorporate surveys in its panel app that can follow up on behaviors and see what movie someone saw that that multi-plex or whether they really did convert into a buyer after walking into the store.

For now, however, the aim is to connect ads to foot traffic. And at the same time, Thinknear's partnership with Placed is designed to separate attribution from media. Solution suites that combine ad distribution with claims to also measure their effectiveness are inherently flawed, says Portnoy. “It was important that this is a third-party tool without a conflict of interest.”

Thinknear is the as network from navigation service provider Telenav, which supplies location, direction and mapping data to carriers, automakers and app developers.

"Foot Traffic" photo from Sjutterstock.

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