Half of retailers digital media spend is wasted, says Commerce Signals

"If you can't measure it you can't manage it."

Nearly half of retail digital media spend is wasted according to marketing firm Commerce Signals, but that doesn’t have to be the case.

"Marketers have known some amount of spend is wasted. That’s just assumed of mass marketing," said Commerce Signals CMO Nick Mangiapane. 

Data from the firm pegs 47 percent of retailers' digital media spend as ineffective. 

"But that’s not supposed to be the case. You're supposed to be able to target more individually. People spend money to get laser-focused insights and there’s still a ton of waste."

According to Mangiapane, there are just not enough ways to tell if a campaign has been successful beyond what essentially amounts to guesswork.

"A lot of people have to use a proxy to tell if someone is buying something. They might measure whether a customer’s cellphone is in or near their store. But tactics like this are not completely accurate and don’t capture if people buy online at all."

Commerce Signals is looking to change this by going directly to finance companies and obtaining aggregate data on customer purchases, which allows for quick, and accurate reports on campaign successes or failures.

"We can get purchase data on 60 percent of all payment transactions from Mastercard, Visa, Discover Card, Bank of America Merchant Services, Worldpay, and more," Mangiapane said. "This allows us to see the aggregate spend for consumers who saw a particular ad."

"We can do this because of our relationships with banks, which allows us to collect this information without jeopardizing consumer data or their own reputations."

Of course, gathering info from purchase card data acquirers brings up the question of privacy, especially in the alphabet soup era of GDPR and CCPA. But as Mangiapane explained, Commerce Signals is buttoned down on that front. 

He said: "The way that we’re set up is that we're looking at aggregate insights only, so we're in very good shape in the CCPA and GDPR world.

"We never get individual-level data, and we don’t collect any personally identifiable information. Everything is unidentifiable, and we have a patented method to prevent reidentification. If the worst did happen and someone did breach Commerce Signals, they would see data without any context whatsoever."

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