Currently, Yahoo! offers marketers who advertise on its network of sites data about online ads--such as how many times users were exposed to ads. But with this new deal, MMA will offer marketers the opportunity to assess return on investment based on econometric analysis, or calculations that attempt to measure the relationship between seemingly unrelated variables. Marketers will have to pay an extra fee for the new service.
John Nardone, chief client officer of MMA, said the model looks at marketing as well as all possible factors that can have an impact on sales. "That changes from business to business, brand to brand," Nardone said.
JupiterResearch's Sapna Satagopan saw the announcement as a bold move by Yahoo! to show marketers in big-spending industries like consumer packaged goods and auto manufacturing that they mean business. "Yahoo! is saying 'This is what you should expect from us,'" said Satagopan. "'We deserve your bigger budgets.'"
According to Yahoo! Research Vice President Michele Madansky, marketers have expressed a strong demand for greater ROI assessment and accountability. "Marketing executives are interested to know what effect their online campaigns are having," said Madansky.
And accountability is now the name of the game, commented Sucharita Mulpuru, a senior analyst at Forrester Research. "This is definitely smart of [Yahoo!] because marketing is becoming so ROI-driven, and everyone's kind of realizing that you need to be held accountable," said Mulpuru.
Mulpuru speculated that while marketers were indeed pressuring Yahoo! for cross-channel accountability, the Internet company was probably happy to oblige. "In their mind, they might be thinking they're not getting what they deserve."
And, Mulpuru said, Yahoo! has little to lose with this service. "The worst case scenario is that online advertising shows no lift to a marketer's sales. Then they'll get no credit for driving offline sales, which is just how much credit they're getting now."