ZenithOptimedia and NinthDecimal Partner To Measure On Online-To-Offline Data

“Offline attribution” metrics promise to determine whether mobile ads actually drove in-store purchases.

ZenithOptimedia's Julian Zilberbrand
ZenithOptimedia’s Julian Zilberbrand

Media shop ZenithOptimedia has struck an exclusive deal with mobile data provider NinthDecimal on creating what they claim is “a new standard of omnichannel measurement and audience insights” for the Publicis Groupe’s media agency clients.

The cross-platform metrics offering is based on using offline attribution — i.e., in-store visits and sales tied directly to mobile ads — as a form of measurement for smartphone and other cross-device advertising. The offline attribution data comprises NinthDecimal’s LCI measurement platform, which is based on location analytics from the company’s publisher partners.

Clicks, Engagement Don’t Measure Up

The adoption of this metric recognizes that, in meeting marketers’ demands for ROI, showing how many consumers “engaged with” or clicked on an ad is becoming less and less relevant, particularly as more brick-and-mortar businesses increase their mobile spending.

“Engagement is not the only measure of effectiveness, which is why NinthDecimal’s LCI product provides our agencies and clients with a holistic view of consumers’ pathway to conversion along with actionable intelligence,” said Julian Zilberbrand, EVP Activation Standards, Insights and Technology at ZenithOptimedia, in a statement.

Mobile ad attribution is particularly challenging due to limited data resources and mobile’s place in the purchase path, said Shuli Lowy, Ping Mobile’s marketing director, when asked for a reaction to ZenithOptimedia/NinthDecimal news.

Ping Mobile's Shuli Lowy
Ping Mobile’s Shuli Lowy

“Unlike desktop ads, the tracking cookies allowed on a mobile device are far more limiting,” Lowy said. “This makes marketers have to resort to more creative data resources to figure out how to target people. These tactics may include retargeting desktop activity on mobile, getting people to sign into accounts on all devices so that we can track their omnichannel activity, inferring demographic data based on what a consumer is doing on his/her device, partnering with other data sources and attempting to connect the dots of data profiles, or tracking a user’s locations so that we know when he/she has walked into a store. Companies such as Ninth Decimal have been this and it’s certainly a big step in the right direction.”

In addition to finding new ways to serve more meaningful ads to consumers when they’re in proximity to a retail location, ZenithOptimedia will use the data that NinthDecimal collects to form broader audience profiles over time.

Insights, Not Just Conversions

The announcement of the deal comes as a number of companies in the geomarketing space, such as xAd, Placed, Factual, PlaceIQ, Verve Mobile, and others have touted mobile as an “insights hub” capable of delivering deeper understanding of consumers’ online-to-offline shopping habits, as opposed to merely serving as another ad targeting platform.

While most of those companies continue to focus on the geo-fencing possibilities with regard to consumer insights and ad targeting, Placed has been aggressively vying for the title of main metrics provider of in-store traffic. The Seattle company gets data from the over 500,000 users who have downloaded its app andopted-in to share their location data in return for points that can be converted into cash, gift cards, or charitable donations.

The company’s metrics offering, dubbed Placed Attribution, has signed non-exclusive deals with several media agencies over the past year, including Publicis Groupe’s DigitasLBi and Interpublic Group’s Mediabrands on the holding company side, as well as independent shops Horizon Media, Southwest Media Group, and Crossmedia.

The Rollout Begins

About seven Fortune 500 ZenithOptimedia clients, including Kohl’s, are already claiming benefits from the metric across 19 mobile campaigns that the two companies have run.

Now that the beta test is over, the NinthDecimal measurement platform has opened up to all of ZenithOptimedia’s media partners, including publishers and ad networks.

As part of the program, each of the agency’s media and ad partners will add NinthDecimal’s measurement pixel and tag via the company’s LCI Verified Partner software system. Over 75 partners are currently, or in the process of, becoming “verified.”

“We’re excited to partner with ZenithOptimedia to introduce this revolutionary platform that will change how the industry determines omnichannel campaign ROI,” said NinthDecimal CEO Michael Fordyce. “Uniquely sitting at the intersection of physical world behavior and digital world behavior enables us to provide the first omnichannel measurement platform utilizing mobile as the glue that connects all media.”

NinthDecimal's Michael Fordyce
NinthDecimal’s Michael Fordyce

A Broader Evolution

ZenithOptimedia’s integration of NinthDecimal’s metrics is a major endorsement of the ad tech company’s evolution from mobile ad network to a programmatic platform specializing in cross-device and online-to-offline data.

For ZenithOptimedia, the partnership is meant to show how it, too, has evolved. A result of the merger of two TV and print ad buying companies in 2001 amid a wider wave of agency consolidations, ZenithOptimedia has tried to position itself as “the ROI shop.” To make good on that billing, it has worked to build itself up beyond the global ad industry forecasts it issues twice a year to become a more nimble consumer insights practice, with mobile at the center.

The scale of NinthDecimal’s measurement reach could help, though some other media buyers say that the data from publishers is not always clear. Nevertheless, several sources give NinthDecimal high marks for weeding out data sources that appear scant or unreliable.

Among NinthDecimal’s measurement capabilities, the company points to several highlights:

  • Scale of Data: Measurement is built upon more than a trillion data points from over a billion devices, with 200 billion new data points added monthly from over 120 million devices.
  • Precision of Data: Proprietary technology delivers the industry’s highest level of accuracy and precision of physical-world data.
  • Measurement: LCI™ measures incremental lift of in-store visits to provide the most accurate marketing ROI attribution.

Omnichannel Capabilities: Comprehensive data from multiple platforms provides campaign effectiveness measurement across mobile, online and offline channels.

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.