Conversations are now more pointed.

For retail marketers, the needle is pointing in the direction that gives them measurable metrics.

Marketers duly admit that when they put an advertisement in a newspaper, an insert in certain ZIP codes, or ads on an np.com site, their store sales see an increase.

Yet more and more, they are pushing back on using our channels for ad promotions because they “can’t measure the ROI.”

For newspaper companies, this represents a great challenge. While we know that we have the audience and the distribution capabilities to reach virtually any targeted audience or household, unless we close the loop on the backend to show direct impact, we remain at a disadvantage.

We’ve known for a long time that our lack of tracking is a weakness for a marketing plan. We’ve relied upon retail marketers experiencing a positive bumps in sales, readership research, etc. We know that our advertising products have an impact and an ability to move merchandise.

But what is different today is the availability of data and systems that can show a direct connection to who moved the purchase needle.

This often results in advertisers tracking and assigning the last point of contact to a direct channel. This attribution simply does not give us credit for a print ad, or often even our online offerings because we are not able to demonstrate a direct connection to either the person or the purchase funnel.

So here’s the point: Retail marketers are saying that it is on us to prove our value.

We often do customer file integration and address matching to analyse where we placed advertising versus where buyers came from. Simply put, we want to take credit for advertising having been placed in a household that ended up on the retailers list of customers who purchased.

We need to get to a point where we are able to view our connections with our customers across all of our platforms.

Proving our value means we need to build relationships with our reading customers, create connections that allow us to track their actions, understand what they value.

We should place call tracking numbers in print ads. When we do, we prove that our print ads generate phone calls. We should be using landing pages in our digital campaigns that help a retailer capture and review actionable customer and performance metrics data.

In my opinion, we need to move to personally identifiable information (PII) online. We need to create personal relationships that allow us to better serve the wants and needs of our customers and our advertisers.

Many of our competitors are doing just this.

Our advertisers want this. Our customers are allowing their information to be collected on other sites. Look at what Facebook knows!

In my opinion, we must do these kinds of things.

We must do them to continue to build value for our readers and value in our products and services. We need to do them with transparency, and scale these processes and practices for our advertisers and for our own future.