Big Data, Big Challenges


Marketers and retailers representing every channel in the marketing ecosystem are still talking about attribution in 2016. They aren’t just confounded by it; they struggle with it every day. Today’s consumers interact with brands via multiple channels including social media platforms and mobile devices, and it’s getting more challenging for marketers to track the consumer’s path to purchase.

In a recent interview, direct response veteran Jeff Campbell said that one question today’s DR marketers face is whether television is the right channel to be in as digital becomes more prevalent. “Everyone continues to spend money in that channel because that’s what [they] know,” Campbell said. “What that leads into is the larger issue of attribution. How do I know if I’m spending my money in the right places?”

Retailers also struggle with this question. Like DR marketers, they must find the right media mix and the right platforms for their already stretched ad budgets. What’s more, the retail industry is feeling the impact from fractured, cross-channel attribution more than other industries, because it has much to gain from precisely determining where sales originate.

Yet even if retailers and marketers arm themselves with the most sophisticated data analytics tools available today, they still need to understand how they can leverage big data to maximize ROI. “Having all of the numbers and statistics at your fingertips is one thing, but actually using the data effectively is completely different,” Hawthorne Direct CEO Jessica Hawthorne-Castro recently wrote in this magazine. She suggests marketers use their data to figure out where consumers are going to be, how they want to make purchases, and how to reach them effectively in that setting and at the right time.

ERA recognizes that its members and the industry at large grapple with attribution and data analytics. The association will address attribution during a Masters Series session at The Great Ideas Summit 2016 in February. Some of the industry’s leading experts on data analytics will tell how progressive DR companies are staying ahead of the curve in a complex, omnichannel world.

Offering valuable resource tools and encouraging an open dialogue in the DR community will allow us to learn from each other’s experiences as marketing professionals—and, hopefully, help us all to move closer to figuring out the big-data puzzle.


Julie Coons
President & CEO