Despite years of planning, the hard fact is that our digital marketing impact measurement journey is going nowhere, in fact, it hasn’t even started properly yet!

In a column “Data-Driven Thinking” in AdExchanger, Julie Van Ullen, General Manager, US Growth, at Rakuten Marketing struggles tofind something new to say about digital marketing measurement.”

She observes that there is a distinct difference between the way we measure the impact of online marketing and the actual business objectives that drive a company’s bottom line. “We’ve been envisioning this road trip for years, but the car is still in the garage. We know the destination – and have countless technologies claiming to help get us there,” she says.

So what’s the reason for this delay? Why are we not able to go ahead, just stick the key in the transmission and push on? What we need is a long hard and serious look at the engine that will power the car. In the current situation, it is dangerously segmented- there are working parts but they don’t work in tandem. They need to be connected to each other- and the direction of the journey needs to be clear before anything moves forward.

Traditionally, marketing is broken down into channels, which typically work in silos. In fact, they go a step beyond and compete with each other for performances and sales. As long as this happens, there cannot be an integrated look at the marketing and sales strategy. Internal segregation and competition for the share of the budget pie will only destroy the bid to move forward together. So, what’s the solution?

Van Ullen says,”… there are two ways marketers make money: acquiring new customers and repeat purchases from existing customers. I’m not suggesting that marketers simply start measuring performance based on these goals, but I am suggesting that they invest their marketing dollars based on these goals.”

This will ideally need channels to work together to deliver results. To measure their efficacy, “a marketer should be able to request a percent lift in new shoppers and a set return-on-ad-spend goal for their budget. Then the budget should be optimized to deliver that performance, across the channels and strategies that will deliver their goals,” she maintains.

This is the first critical step that will ensure marketing channels to speak to each other as well as work toward clear and common goals. “Once the engine is working, attribution and analytics tools become much more valuable. When marketers know how their investments are working, they will have greater insight into where to invest more to increase their returns and make those marketing dollars work harder,” she says.

This will not be an easy or quick task, but this is the point marketers have been working towards for quite some time now. Someone needs to push the tweak, and start the engine.

The road trip is long overdue!