Wall Street Journal Piece On Tracking

Mylene Mangalindan of the Wall Street Journal wrote a solid piece on Monday that was unfortunately buried at the end of the annual All Things Digital section. If you're a multi-channel internet marketer, read her article, Ad Vantage (Paid reg. required).

The piece looks at potential pitfalls of advertising online without proper analytics tracking and covers such topics as Garden Harware’s difficulties tracking which search advertising or comparison shopping clicks actually convert (PriceGrabber and Shopping.com are singled out), eBay’s solution for search marketing (seems they developed a system in-house after leaving Efficient Frontier), Alibris‘ problems with affiliate sales (not all affiliates drive valuable traffic), and Limoges Jewelry’s success using Mercent’s tracking systems (sales up, costs down).

What isn?t discussed is a potentially more troublesome problem which the analytics systems from WebTrends, CoreMetrics, Atlas, and Omniture [IPO coming soon] don?t necessarily solve: crediting sales to the right marketing channel. As marketers participate in more online marketing channels (PPC marketing on the main search engines, PPC marketing on the shopping comparison engines, lead gen marketplaces, affiliate marketing programs, etc.), giving credit where credit is due and therefore maintaining an accurate picture of ROI from each channel gets very tricky. And this issue will only get worse as companies shift more marketing dollars online.

I got into online marketing 11 years ago because I viewed it as metrics oriented, results driven spending with a strong level of transparency of information. Fast forward to today, though, and tell me how sure you are that you?re not 'double counting' that sale from the consumer who clicked on the Google Adwords ad, then the Shopping.com ad, then purchased directly from your site 2 days later?