The evolution of modern marketing metrics

from Wanamaker
to the Walk-Through Rate™

The modern marketer has an endless supply of technical tricks to track ROI. But back in the olden days, businesses had no idea what worked.

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”

—John Wanamaker

1921

A real estate company runs the first true paid radio ads at $35/week for twice-weekly spots. Tracking is impossible.

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”

—John Wanamaker

1936

Arthur Nielsen acquires a device called the Audimeter in 1936 to measure the effectiveness of radio advertising. It’s hokey, but better than nothing.

1941

TV becomes a thing and watchmaker Bulova runs the first ad the same year. Businesses are now quick to advertise on new mediums.

1942

Nielsen creates Nielsen Radio Ratings to measure audience demographics. It monitors just 1,000 homes.

1947

Nielsen Media Research starts measuring TV viewership. Accuracy is terrible because only 0.2% of homes are measured.

1950s-1980s

Measurement is still really inaccurate. But companies are spending record amounts of money on radio and television ads. Wanamaker continues to roll in his grave.

Creatively, the midcentury is considered by many to be the “Golden Age of Advertising.” This is peak Don Draper-time, but measurement is still unreliable and largely uninformed by actual behavior.

Creatively, the midcentury is considered by many to be the “Golden Age of Advertising.” This is peak Don Draper-time, but measurement is still unreliable and largely uninformed by actual behavior.

1994

Display ads are invented along with the CPM (cost per mille) and CTR (click-through rate). The e-commerce revolution has begun.

1996

Internet company Doubleclick offers advertisers a tool that tracks online ad performance. A new way of charging for ads, cost-per impression (CPM), emerges.

1999

Comscore introduces a customer knowledge platform that provides a 360º view of customer buying and browsing behavior on the internet.

2000

Google rolls out AdWords to 350 customers. CPC (cost-per click) advertisers bid on keyword phrases relevant to target markets, only paying when ads are clicked. By 2012 it is their main source of revenue.

2003

The conversation switches to CPA (cost per acquisition). As a result, advertising metrics become more credible because they’re calculated upon conversions rather than leads.

2006

Social media rises, bringing with it CPE (cost-per engagement).

2008

Facebook launches engagement ads. Zuckerburg starts sitting on a huge pile of money.

2009

Foursquare launches, introducing the check in. Along with Groupon, it’s one of the first companies to attempt connecting the online and offline world.

2011

Marketers around the world attempt to connect online experiences to real-life environments using scannable QR codes, a technology invented in the 1990s, but renewed by smartphones. Despite early enthusiasm from marketers, it’s mostly a flop.

2014

Zenreach introduces the Walk-Through Rate™. It bridges the divide between online behavior and offline action for the first time.

Now

Brick-and-mortar businesses finally have a way to measure the true impact of their marketing by connecting exposure to online advertising with subsequent visits to a physical location.