Whilst we accept that few people click through to a main site, we also have to accept that precious few ever arrive at the site at all, let alone convert there. This limits data.

My argument always follows the though process of “where” was the last time I purchased something, and “what” was my process in getting there?

I am alerted to something through display media (on any channel) or alerted to something by friends.
– Perhaps I am also partial to a particular brand I researched the product – in store or online
I qualified it by reading reviews – in store or online
I then purchased – in store or online
– and 9 times out of 10 at a reseller site, from Amazon to Tesco’s (Wallmart)
I then became a reviewer of the product – online or direct to my friends
…and so the cycle continues.

With this in mind, when you think about conversions we must be realistic about objectives and methodology for getting there.

From clients I have spoken with the “majority” of purchases happen at reseller sites (well over 50%) – on or offline. Precious few sell direct and few of those are actually online (circa 30%). These conversions, if not happening at client direct site cannot be tracked with conversion tags, and therefore skew all data we have on conversion ROI – in turn do not show the true value of online display media in the process.

The Mars campaign last year, that achieved 35,000 respondents in a single day, worked because call to action WAS the data-capture. It happened immediately on roll-over, and was not muddied with driving CTR. It was deliberately designed that way. It was not over-worked with pretty rich media, except where needed – one-time only on homepage, after that it went straight to data-capture on roll-over. Interaction = data-capture.

This is the cry of the online Direct Response (DR) industry.

CTR is not DR, the “response” of user back to the brand is. Therefore we must simplify this process. All DR in print is measured on when a consumer “responds” back to the offer. It includes a form to do so, or a number. Both must be tracked – hence data-capture and conversion on site. It is mandatory.

Rich media is not necessarily the answer for DR clients. Inclusion of rich media does effect conversions (2x) but needs to be balanced against an increase in spend. However, including data-capture does… I have just pulled some global data and discovered that you are 8x more likely to submit a form in banner then click on a standard banner!! And remember, you do not need full-blown rich media for that. We must help DR clients understand this.

Remember, something like a Mars bar also would NEVER be bought online, let alone at client site – you may by bulk, but at reseller or eBay. This is important when strategising conversions. Therefore, conversions need to be tracked where we can find data points.

I believe the process of display to search enquiry is our biggest understanding of modern consumer behaviour.
– Irrespective of where they were first alerted – they search online – even if they purchase offline.

Maybe they discussed with friends, added widgets to Facebook… these are all part of consumer cycle towards conversions.

So the new research at Eyeblaster we are about to publish will help show the multiple points we can track and optimise to ensure better ROI given limitations of where things are at right now.

But we must accept that when discussing ROI, if someone sees something in display banner then buys elsewhere the data we have is skewed and not showing the true ROI to the client. This is imperative in discussing “value”… and steps to optimise display against search activity, or intrinsic activity such as data-capture/forward-to friends/widget distribution, as well as site-side conversions should all be considered.

Also remember conversions are about “intent” more often than physical purchase, including financial. A response to offer is “conversion”, as well as actual fulfilment of process, i.e. “sale”.

And I will say it again, data-capture in enhanced standard is more effective then rich media at driving conversions.

Think of it this way: Walk into a bar, you can spend hours trying to be a joker to convert, or just walk-up and say ‘do you want a drink’?! If not, onto the next… it’s a 1 in 10 conversion ratio (apparently!) ;-)