Local Search Predictions (Part 2): Q&A with Jason Uechi of YP℠ Mobile Labs

local, local search, attribution, foot-traffic, in-store visits, online to offline attribution, measurement, analysis, targeting, digital, digital marketing, mobile, mobile marketing, insights, thought leadership

Continuing the conversation we started last week with Jason Uechi, Director of Engineering at YP Mobile Labs, we thought we’d take a closer look at the topic of attribution and its impact on digital marketing (especially at the local level).

So Jason, how do you anticipate companies with brick and mortar locations will be able to measure how local searches actually lead to in-store sales by 2020? How close are we to accurately being able to identify online to offline attribution? 

Right now there are many ways to calculate what I like to call “ambient conclusions” – strong indicators of correlation between activity in the digital space and activity in the real world. One way to think of it is by comparing movements and behaviors in the online world, measured by clicks and impressions, with real world corollary of in-store foot traffic and actual purchases in the local brick and mortar store. The challenge here is that there isn’t a single way or method of measuring these correlations. These measures can vary greatly in terms of complexity, can be somewhat unreliable without sufficient scale, and rely heavily on data and other information pulled from disparate sources. There are a number of technologies available today that can tie (or at least, attempt to tie) all these pieces together. However, the underlying business ecosystems that make this information available to us – like media and marketing and payments solutions and banks, just as examples – are oftentimes large, entrenched, and hard to navigate. Simply put, we’re not in a place today where we can say this is a simple and straightforward task.

That being said, we are much closer to being able to more accurately measure online to offline attribution than ever before – and there are a number of reasons for this, both technological and cultural in nature. Let’s start with the latter. The boundaries between the online and offline worlds have become increasingly fluid thanks to the near ubiquitous presence of smartphones in people’s daily lives. As an “always on” technology, smartphones are constantly communicating back to the cloud with obscure bits of data, which when modeled and analyzed, can be useful in painting a clearer picture for marketers about a consumer’s likes, dislikes, and other digital and real-world behaviors. And when done at scale, this can help inform trends and predictive models that will make it easier for marketers to refine and optimize their go-to-market efforts. In essence, this is helping to clear up the big (and long standing) “question mark” around how marketing spend directly impacts in-store activity or sales. Knowing that alone can be a real game-changer for many marketers today.

While this may seem obvious, it must also be said that advancements in technology play a significant role here. Thanks to the platforms, systems, and algorithms at our disposal today, we are now able to connect the dots between audience, location, and campaign data seamlessly and with more granularity. Being able to do this allows us to tell marketers just how successful their mobile campaigns are at driving in-store foot traffic. And by combining hyper-local targeting with other cross-media spend information, we are now able to more precisely identify what correlations can be made between revenue and marketing tactics. Is it perfect yet? No. However, the industry as a whole is making huge strides at solving this piece of the mobile marketing puzzle.

Going forward, I think the next milestone in measuring attribution for local businesses will be in the realm of payment technology. For example, many local businesses already use products like Square and PayPal for their brick and mortar or online stores, but we have yet to fully tap into the wealth of knowledge and data that these digital commerce platforms provide in getting us to the “last mile” around a unified consumer identity – one that is private, safe, convenient, and ultimately a value-add to the consumer. Will the big banks push their way in? Will there soon be a complete overhaul of money as well as how we go about making transactions – à la Bitcoin – that changes the game completely? Who knows. Suffice it to say, we are all chasing the future – and that’s what makes this such an exciting time to be imagining, inspiring, and leading massive change within the digital marketing industry today.


Photo Credit: Adobe Stock (Standard License)


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