New tool aims to track whether influencers, other digital ads, actually drive online sales
MikMak is rolling out new analytics tools that it says will allow packaged goods brands to know exactly when and where influencer content and other digital ads drive sales—aiming to address growing marketer concerns about everything from fake followers and clicks to how to gather and use more of their own first-party consumer data.
MikMak, which counts Procter & Gamble Co., Unilever, L’Oréal, Estée Lauder Cos., Colgate-Palmolive Co. and Hershey Co. among its clients, has focused since 2017 on shoppable online ad formats that work across media platforms and online retailers. With its new dashboard, MikMak is organizing all the data it’s been collecting so marketers can track which media or influencers perform best, where consumers prefer to shop and inventory status for products at online retailers.
MikMak is one of many shoppable ad formats, but others are built to work on only one platform, or focus on direct-to-consumer sales rather than fulfillment through Amazon, Walmart, Target and other retailers. Platforms such as Facebook and Instagram have their own shoppable ad formats, including for influencers, but that means the platforms own and control the data.
While MikMak is an official Facebook and Instagram partner, and developed its software to work on those platforms and others, it also aims to give marketers more flexibility to work across platforms and retailers while controlling more of the data, CEO Rachel Tipograph says.
“MikMak’s software works across all digital and social channels so brands can have a unified storefront across channels and retailers,” says Tipograph, “which, in turn, provides brands with standardized measurement and benchmarks across channels and retailers.”
MikMak is promising marketers that they can “own valuable first-party data that we won’t ever monetize.” It’s a plus in an industry where P&G, Unilever and L’Oréal have been boasting in recent years of growing first-party databases numbering 1 billion to 1.5 billion people or more globally. But Tipograph says that beyond sheer numbers, MikMak provides the ability to track shopper behavior in ways that online retailers may not readily allow.
While P&G brands do sell direct, mostly to launch or learn about new products, it still relies on outside retailers for the vast majority of sales. MikMak is helping P&G's North American haircare business “better inform our investment choices in the digital space, while allowing us to strengthen our partnership with our retailers,” said Brand Director John Brownlee in a statement.
Getting influencers to use MikMak’s shoppable ad format can also help bypass some of the thorniest issues in the industry—fake followers, fake likes and other forms of fake engagement. Instagram, the leading platform for influencer marketing, had made inroads in cutting down on fake followers and engagements last year, but saw that progress reverse somewhat in the fourth quarter, according to tracking firm Instascreener.
While fake followers can fabricate clicks, they aren’t likely to buy stuff, so by linking influencers’ content to people filling online shopping carts, MikMak could help measure influencer impact better than audience or click data. That’s one area Hershey plans to explore in coming months using MikMak’s data and analytics, says Doug Straton, VP-digital commerce.
Otherwise, Hershey’s interest in MikMak, which it began working with late last year, is about boosting e-commerce sales and tracking inventory levels with online retailers, while also tracking what people put in online shopping carts data to help assess performance of media, ad formats and creative, Straton says.
One encouraging surprise is that people are adding products to carts from online ads at rates similar to what they do when they’re already on e-commerce sites.
“We’re seeing add-to-cart ratios [from ads] typical of what you’d see at a typical digital commerce retailer,” Straton says, adding that Hershey can glean this data without having to sell product direct or run ads that only work with one retailer.