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How We Built Marchex Omnichannel Analytics Cloud – Pt 1

by Sundi Raman | March 1, 2017

This is the first of two parts taking you behind the scenes of Marchex, giving you a sneak peak on how we solved the online to offline omnichannel dilemma. Check back next week for Part 2, or subscribe to our blog to get all the latest news, updates and insights from Marchex directly to your inbox! 

With the recent launch of Marchex Omnichannel Analytics Cloud, clients are able to connect all online paid media channels to offline conversions from calls and stores through a single analytics platform. This enables smarter media spending, lowers the cost of new customer acquisition and drives more sales. As you can imagine, this was not an overnight effort but a journey of more than a year to get to this point. I would like to take you behind the scenes of how we built this platform and what we’re doing to continually evolve it to meet the future needs of our customers.

Customer needs

As we all know, the mobile revolution has fueled online to offline commerce. Consumers increasingly use mobile to first research products and end up completing their purchase in-store or over a call. In a consumer’s path to purchase, mobile search plays an important role, because consumers will almost always conduct a search at some point in the buying process. Two years back, when Google introduced newer ad units like mobile click-to-call, there was an even greater need in the industry to bridge the online to offline gap. Existing paid search bid-management platforms (BMPs) were built to optimize for online actions, but had no visibility into what happened offline. Our teams, guided by the needs of the industry, solved this online to offline problem for search by delivering a solution that attributed 100% of keywords to call conversions. The data was then seamlessly integrated into BMPs. Given the near real-time needs for data integration, our engineering teams leveraged Kafka streaming and Amazon SWF tools to crunch millions of keywords and tens of thousands of calls per day to produce a stream of data that can be consumed by the BMPs which, with our product, can now use both online and offline actions of a customer to inform and optimize bidding.

Offline Online Keys Showing Internet Communication Status

As our teams worked with Marchex clients, they realized that the marketers struggled to quantify the value of other channels like display and video on offline sales from calls. Our team latched on to the fact that these channels, unlike something like search, often do not stimulate direct calls. And while that direct connection is missing, display and video still have a notable impact: They reinforce brand awareness, which, in turn, influences and subsequently drives calls. The engineering team at Marchex was faced with the challenge of coming up with a solution to drive beyond common industry practices like tracking numbers. This is key because the subsequent call, most times occurring days later, will often be placed to a number not necessarily used in the display or video advertisement. This dictated a need for the industry’s first offline cookie – The Marchex Audience Graph.

What exactly does the Marchex Audience Graph do? And what about the rest of the channels in omnichannel? Check out Part 2 and subscribe to the blog through that little box to your right, for part two!

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