June 11, 2009, 12:00 AM

IRCE 2009 session addresses how to tie online sales back to ads

Even though e-commerce has transitioned sales tracking from art to science, there still are some unsolved mysteries. One of them is apportioning credit for a sale when there are multiple paths possible, says George Michie of The Rimm-Kaufman Group.

Even though e-commerce transitioned sales tracking from art to science, there still are some unsolved mysteries. One of them is the debate over apportioning credit for a sale when there are multiple paths possible, says George Michie, chief operating officer and co-founder of The Rimm-Kaufman Group, a search marketing company.

For example, a shopper begins a product search with the term “guitar,” then clicks an ad, browses an e-commerce site, then leaves without making a purchase. Later that day or the next, the shopper searches “Gibson,” a prominent guitar maker, sees and clicks a different ad but ends up on the original web site and orders a guitar. Which ad gets the credit?

“There is an argument that keywords early in that cycle deserve some of the credit for the sale rather than all credit going to the ad last touched,” Michie says. The debate might be more esoteric than practical, however. “We’ve found this has a much smaller effect than some folks think it has,” he adds.

Michie and Jennifer Kwiatkowski, director of circulation, at Plow & Hearth Inc., will address these issues, the approaches retailers can take, and the pros and cons of each during a session at the upcoming Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition 2009 in Boston next week. The session is titled When there are so many marketing vehicles, who gets the credit for the sale?.

Plow & Hearth is a subsidiary of 1-800-Flowers.com Inc., which is No. 31 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

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