Today is my last regular Sunday blog before the opening of pro football season. There’s no real significance to this, except that I have always suspected my blog posts may suffer a bit from constant scoreboarding distractions on NFL Sundays. So enjoy this last gasp of undistracted attention while you can!
I mean to cover a few X Change topics in the coming weeks, but before I go there, I’ve also been meaning for several months to blog on Akin Arikan’s book Multichannel Marketing. And since his book fits in well with my upcoming presentation at IMC Vancouver, I figured this is a good opportunity to plug that as well.
I’m speaking on Sept. 11 at the IMC, and I’m going to be presenting on “Establishing a Coin-of-the-Realm for Online Advertising.” It’s a topic that been on my mind since last year’s X Change, and I’ve just finished building the presentation. I’m sticking to my philosophy of never giving the same presentation twice, so it’s completely new stuff (I’ll have two new presentations for D.C.’s eMetrics as well). In the presentation, I start with what it means to have a “coin-of-the-realm” in online advertising and why it’s important. In the second part of the presentation, I lay out a fairly comprehensive set of success and cost types necessary to truly measure site value. For each success type, the most significant measurement challenges are briefly discussed. Finally, I show some examples of the reporting and modeling that can be developed if you’ve done your homework around both cost and value in the online realm. If you’re interested in getting a copy of the presentation post-IMC, just drop me a line (I figure attendees deserve to see it first)!
Part of the inspiration and thinking on this topic came from the aforementioned book: “Multichannel Marketing – Metrics and Methods for On and Offline Success.”
I don’t actually do a great deal of business-book reading. Unlike my colleague Phil Kemelor who’s doing a short-series of book reviews on his blog and - surprise - also tackles Akin's book, I rarely read books on business or web analytics. It’s not for lack of reading. I’m never without one or two books in hand, and if you look for me at conferences you are as likely as not to see me in a corner with a book. But the chances are heavy that it will be a novel – or failing that a book on philosophy, history or science.
I won’t say business books bore me (though they often do). But I spend a lot of time working. I tend to think of reading as my leisure time. And, like most of us, I do a lot of online business reading. I find that many a business book is a bloated tome from which the core kernels of thought have long since appeared in much abbreviated and more intelligible form in articles, blogs, or even presentations.
So I probably wouldn’t have read Akin’s book if he hadn’t sent it to me for review. If you are inveterate reader like me, you know that any book you actually have on-hand will sooner or later get read! And in this case, I’m glad enough I made the effort.
Akin’s book bridges two worlds – web analytics and online measurement and traditional offline marketing and the research techniques that commonly support it. During the past twenty years, I’ve lived both worlds, and I can appreciate how difficult it is to bring them together intelligibly. Akin does it.
I can imagine his book being read by an offline practitioner as an introduction to online metrics and how the techniques, metrics and measurements both apply and change in this new world. Perhaps even more, however, the book is intended for online marketers and analysts who are faced with multi-channel problems and have never been exposed to the range of analytic techniques prevalent in the offline world.
Naturally, I read with particular attention Akin’s overview of web analytics.
I generally hate overviews of web analytics. There is no more difficult task in education than to simplify without mis-representation. I’ve complained more than once in this blog that some of the leading figures in web analytics have consistently failed in this task (which I admit to not even attempting). Akin’s relatively brief introduction is thorough and consistently accurate. His discussion of KPIs and segmentation, his treatment of complex issues like cookies, and his overview of campaign tracking mechanisms are all spot-on in tone, accuracy and brevity (the last of which I also admit to not even attempting). Even better, Akin consistently deals with key error points. His discussion of web analytics highlights the difference between correlation and causality and at nearly every point manages to highlight both the possibilities and potential problems inherent in an analysis.
If you are an experienced online marketer or analyst, I doubt there will be anything really new here – but if you are looking to give someone a short, to the point and consistently well-thought-out introduction, Akin’s overview chapter on web analytics will very much fit the bill.
For that selfsame experienced online marketer, it is the rest of Akin’s book that will be most interesting. Multichannel Marketing covers both direct and brand marketing techniques in introductions similar to that provided for web analytics.
The book then dives into a series of chapters that cover measuring lift, online and offline interactions, and multi-touch conversion attribution. All of these are critical issues and Akin provides an excellent overview of each. Media mix modeling is, I think, the next great frontier in web analytics – and it’s a discipline that nearly every online agency is rushing to understand. Attribution is one of my particular interests and something I’m doing work on right now. Akin not only gives the reader a sound overview of attribution, he discusses a full range of attribution models: most recent, first, fractional, multiple, weighted by recency, weighted by scheme and custom weightings.
Multichannel Marketing isn’t the sort of book that will give you detailed information about how to build these attribution schemes in a web analytics tool. That’s the kind of stuff I might tackle. Multichannel Marketing is more general than that. What it will provide is a great overview of a set of critical multichannel marketing issues along with a comprehensive view of the plausible solutions and programs you should be thinking about it.
The same approach holds true for the last (and I think most powerful) chapters of the book - multichannel marketing methods. These three chapters cover acquisition techniques, engagement and conversion, and growing lifetime value. Not only is the emphasis on the complete customer life-cycle salutary, Akin lays out a rich set of both marketing and measurement options in each chapter. In the chapter on engagement, for example, Akin covers a whole set of remarketing triggers: from offline product return to direct mail offer expiration to the classic online process abandonment. As with most of the book, you may find that your online or offline bias will make some of these options seem obvious and others completely revelatory. Even if you’ve been very aggressive in multichannel marketing and measurement, I’d be surprised if these three chapters don’t spur at least a few: “I should be taking a look at this…” moments.
Multichannel Marketing delivers a worthy blend of sound technical overview, comprehensive coverage of multichannel options, and a long overdue look at the way offline and online measurement techniques can and should converge. Best of all in my view, the book never succumbs to cheerleading and never stops reminding the reader of the potential pitfalls in practical analysis. It is sound, clear of judgment, clean in style and admirably free of bloat. It made me think reading business books may not be so bad after all…