Verizon and Catalina Partner to Power Online-to-offline Attribution

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For today’s brand marketers, every second counts. This has always been true, but it’s especially apparent in 2021, as CPG brands work around the clock to keep up with constant changes in consumer demand. 

The initial spike in shopping frequency that retailers saw last spring as people stocked up on supplies at the beginning of the pandemic gave way to a sharp decrease this past fall and winter. Now, more than a year after some CPG brands suspended advertising while struggling to maintain product supply, the need for real-time insights into the impact that digital campaigns are having on in-store and online purchases has never been greater.

Seeing a void in the marketplace, ad tech vendors are stepping in with tech solutions designed to help brands link in-store and online transactions to digital ads in real-time. Just this month, Verizon Media partnered with Catalina, a provider of consumer-driven marketing solutions, to help CPG brands more effectively connect digital campaigns with sales. The partnership matches Catalina’s sales data to Verizon Media’s identity graph, which means Verizon Media is now the first DSP to be integrated with a top CPG sales data provider. 

“The pandemic has changed consumer behaviors, and these continue to shift quickly,” says Iván Markman, chief business officer at Verizon Media. “It’s clear through these consumer behavior shifts that CPG marketers need more than the traditional closed-loop measurement studies. They need flexible, inflight measurement solutions that provide real-time, actionable insights into the impact of digital campaigns on purchases.” 

The new partnership between Verizon Media and Catalina provides validated omnichannel sales conversions, influenced by true media exposure. Markman says it’s hard for brands to connect omnichannel media buys with in-store outcomes in any scenario, since brands typically don’t have access to the data or a scalable way to connect it, but the challenges have only been exacerbated by the current climate.

Catalina’s access to more than 170 million shopper loyalty cards and its direct retailer relationships put the company in a powerful position. By matching Catalina’s sales data to its own cross-device ID graph, Verizon Media is giving marketers greater granularity at scale and providing its clients with product-specific purchase insights. For example, brands will be able to determine when the consumer exposed to a particular campaign is different from the actual buyer. In traditional measurement solutions, credit is automatically given to the head of the household on loyalty card purchases.

“With their integrations with their retailer network, Catalina brings its unique point of sales data at the household level — this is not only unique but highly scaled,” Markman says. “Verizon Media brings its highly diverse data representing billions of rich signals, its market-leading ad tech, and data science.” 

Delivering Better Value

Connecting in-store and online transactions to the actual purchaser, rather than the head of household, means doubling up on data in the hopes of achieving more granular outcomes. In separate silos, CPG brands are limited in the insights they can glean from Catalina’s millions of shopper loyalty cards or Verizon Media’s ID graph. Although Verizon Media’s ID graph is based on the hundreds of millions of consumers who use the company’s brands and products, including Yahoo Mail, Yahoo Search, TechCrunch, and AOL, Verizon Media lacks the direct retailer relationships that Catalina has already established.

A partnership between the two companies should give CPG brands the ability to establish which person in a household was exposed to a campaign, leading to a deeper understanding of who the true high-value consumer is in every relationship.

Markman says the biggest challenges, until now, have been the lag time between media activation and insights, and the lack of consistent connected metrics across channels and formats. Those challenges are compounded when sales data is disrupted through the distribution channel owners, which makes Catalina’s direct access a strength in Verizon Media’s eyes.

“These challenges have made it hard and inefficient to connect media to outcomes in a timely fashion, and to be able to then adjust campaigns in flight,” Markman says. “With this partnership, marketers will now have a greater understanding of their media’s impact in real-time, closing the loop on their campaigns’ impact and helping them drive greater efficiency and growth through this optimization.”

Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.