Digital cookies are key to online tracking and measuring results.
Here’s the real rub: Even though traditional businesses are spending billions on digital advertising, they have no direct way to measure results. E-commerce businesses can measure the impact of online advertising from impression to transaction. But that’s not so easy for offline counterparts.
Digital cookies are the key to online tracking. They remember visitor information and keep track of preferences. They measure visits to web pages and recognize when someone returns. Without them, websites would be about as effective, and trackable, as billboards.
Developing an offline cookie would enable direct offline attribution. Put simply, offline attribution is the ability to tie online marketing to offline actions such as in-store visits and sales. This is often described as the holy grail for brick-and-mortar marketers because historically they have had no way to directly measure the business results of their efforts.
Businesses have used coupons and loyalty programs, but these have notoriously low participation rates and can be time consuming to manage. What marketers need to be as successful as online businesses is a way to automatically track the journey a customer takes from seeing an ad to checking out at the register.
Leveraging WiFi for offline attribution
Free WiFi access points in business locations could form a network for measuring store visits. By inviting customers to use free WiFi, merchants can opt customers into marketing programs. Once registered, customer visits can be automatically logged by the retailer’s access point.
Using WiFi signal like an offline cookie can function as a trigger for communication, just like a website visit is used in the online world. This functionality enables technology that allows restaurants to track customer visits, effortlessly build customer profiles and keep them up to date. It can also help to automate marketing practices like automatically sending specific email offers triggered by customer visits or characteristics. So for example, a welcome email to first time visitors, or a special incentive to get someone who hasn’t visited in a while to return. One key capability is the ability for restaurants to measure an offline equivalent of click-throughs to measure exactly how many customers returned to the store after seeing a marketing message.
In many ways, it’s similar to what made internet and web marketing so effective. Many restaurant owners are throwing money away on marketing programs that just aren’t delivering ROI. The offline cookie empowers restaurants to be rational about where advertising dollars are allocated because they will know if a customer clicked on an ad and ended up in the store.
About the Author
Kai Umezawa is vice president of product at Zenreach. Zenreach’s network now includes tens of millions of users, and drove more than 7.7 million Walk-Throughs in 2018, based on data from Zenreach customers. This network will be the key to helping offline merchants get more from digital ad spend as well.