Tony Zito is the President and CEO at Rakuten MediaForge. Based in Salt Lake City, his digital marketing company is focused on the display and retargeting segment of the marketplace.
Question 1: What should marketers be thinking about when it comes to understanding online consumer behavior?
“1. Measure it – when we look at the world with respect to how to understand consumers, the big leap is the ability to track.
2. Consolidate it – find out where the industry is making its significant move.
3. Figure out what you are going to do about it– capture, normalize and structure the data around customers to understand these trends.
Number three is the most important thing. If you aren’t going to do anything about it, what’s the point? A question I often ask myself is, ‘how do I deliver the best possible experience to consumer to have the best conversion rate?'”
Question 2: What’s the current state-of-affairs when it comes to tracking and measuring digital behavior?
“Personally, I don’t think marketers love last clicks; I think they are held to it. Marketers are handcuffed to a measurement system that only knows how to deal with last clicks. This is due to that fact that analytic platforms are all built around last clicks. As soon as you try to introduce something new to it, the systems don’t know how to attribute it. It is our greatest most frustrating challenge at MediaForge. Our clients understand what is happening but their backend architecture does not support it.
The question I often ask when it comes to clicks is, ‘How do I take this action based conversion and where do I put it in my measurements?’ This is where the challenge will continue to lie for marketers until the industry develops tools that are more flexible. Honestly, no one believes in it any more – and if they do, they wouldn’t say it out loud. Clicks are easy but savvy and sophisticated marketers are challenged because they know better.”
Question 3: What about taking into account the online/offline relationship of consumer behavior?
“Measuring the online-to-offline experience is a challenge for most digital marketers. Unless you have sophisticated and costly systems in place. There are workarounds, though. Using traditional ‘offline’ data that resides in CRM systems, we can often successfully merge it with online data and create a user profile that represents both online and offline behavior, and offers a full view of the consumer.”
Question 4: How about the role of social media in all of this?
“It is obvious that we are still learning in social media space and evidence lies in multiple forms of advertising that Facebook has rolled out. Facebook is a great example of how the ad platform becomes successful – you modify and then you perfect. Facebook is changing social media by bringing back the old school tricks that many have forgotten about.
But it’s been difficult to monetize social media. This is partially due to lack of understanding as well as that fact that it hasn’t worked the way we thought it would. Social media is difficult and it becomes challenging to measure how active consumers are. Many advertisers complain that they never see big results, which then leads to discouragement. There’s clearly a huge opportunity there, but it’s going to take awhile to sort through.”
Question 5: What’s in store for the digital marketer in 2014?
“Well, of course we like what display advertising has to offer. The tactic will benefit from having considerably more data available, which can then be used for targeting and personalization, and that will increase its ROI. As long as display’s performance continues to improve, marketers will allocate budgets that way. Mobile- and tablet-focused activity is also going to be huge, as the spending on those devices continues to swell.
On the other side of the spectrum, social media advertising minus Facebook is not going to be that impressive.”