Pinterest taps market research firm IRI to measure offline sales lift

A little over two years ago, Pinterest announced a partnership with IRI, the global market research company, to measure the impact of ad campaigns on in-store sales lift. While it’s apparently taken until now to fully implement, now that the capabilities are in place, advertisers will soon be able to determine which campaigns and creatives drove actual offline sales.

Offline measurement needed for 360-degree view of a campaign. The partnership between Pinterest and IRI isn’t new. Indeed, it’s becoming more common for sophisticated marketers to enlist some form of offline tracking, but it’s a tactic that’s still underutilized.

Digital advertising is responsible for influencing trillions of dollars in offline transactions. But that impact isn’t captured by traditional digital analytics, which means businesses that sell products or services offline have only a fragmentary view of their customers and shopping behaviors. It’s one of the reasons Google implemented offline conversion tracking several years ago.

Offline analytics can take different forms (store visitation tracking, call tracking, POS integration). But with online-to-offline tracking, not only does the ad platform get more credit for the value it delivers, but advertisers gain a more complete understanding of campaign performance. This applies to both search and display.

500 million frequent shopper loyalty cards. IRI’s store-purchased data comes from roughly “500 million frequent shopper loyalty cards.” The company uses a control/exposed methodology to determine incremental in-store sales lift, matching ad exposures (on Pinterest in this case) to loyalty cards that record in-store sales. IRI says it reaches 93% of U.S. Households.

IRI also has a survey panel and utilizes other types of data to report on sales impact. The analytics can be made available in near real-time, although the Pinterest deal promises reporting “within weeks of campaign conclusion.” So, in this case, no in-flight optimization; however, IRI anticipates the relationship between the two companies will evolve and expand.

CPG, food, health and beauty. The ability to measure in-store sales lift isn’t available to all categories of Pinterest advertisers. IRI is focused on CPG – specifically, the food, health and beauty categories for which it has loyalty account-based sales data. Pinterest is only one of many partners for whom IRI performs a store-sales tracking function.

Pinterest announced a similar relationship with Oracle Data Cloud (Datalogix) in 2016, to measure in-store sales impact. In one study by the two companies, “Promoted Pins [drove] 5x more incremental in-store sales per impression” vs. other online advertising. However, the IRI deal appears to supersede the prior Oracle relationship.

Why we care. I spoke at some length with IRI about the impact of privacy regulations on the company’s data and methodology. However, loyalty and rewards programs have been exempted from CCPA as legislators struggle with how to treat them under the law. And store-sales data isn’t as vulnerable to disruption as some of the mobile-location store-visitation tracking (see iOS 13 location alerts).

About The Author

Greg Sterling is a Contributing Editor to Search Engine Land, a member of the programming team for SMX events and the VP, Market Insights at Uberall.

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