Avenue A Tool Ties Online Marketing to Offline Sales

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Interactive agency Avenue A announced the release of a tool yesterday that allows retailers to quantify the effect of their online marketing activities on offline sales.

With ChannelScope, the agency's retail customers can gauge effectiveness with standard direct response metrics, such as conversion rate, cost per sale, and return on advertising investment.

"Every online retailer is starting to ask the question, 'What is my online advertising and Web site worth beyond its e-commerce contribution?,' " said Clark Kokick, president of Avenue A, a unit of Seattle-based aQuantive.

ChannelScope works to answer that by tying together anonymous identification data from a marketer's database with Avenue A's anonymous cookie data from ad serving. Avenue A uses both sets of data to find the effect of online marketing, including advertising campaigns and Web site visits, with offline behavior. The company stresses that ChannelScope never uses personally identifiable information.

Kokich said privacy was Avenue A's biggest worry when developing the tool. Online advertising company DoubleClick ran into a hail of criticism and investigation three years ago after it planned to combine its ad-serving data with offline database Abacus, which contains personally identifiable information. DoubleClick ended up swearing off the plan, although it still triggered an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission.

Avenue A said it has already completed beta tests with two retailers, which it declined to name. The company said one test showed online advertising driving 20 percent of offline sales. The data can then be used to change online marketing activities on the fly, Kokich said.

The association of online advertising and offline behavior has been elusive for marketers, who have mostly relied on survey data to find if customers were led to the store by online marketing.

"This is the first system that allows a retailer to say this is the total ROI of my online advertising campaign," Kokich said.

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