Petco Eyes Attribution, Rapid Campaign Deployment With Tag Management

petcoAs content, commerce and ads collide in digital, retailers are looking for ways to capitalize. For pet supply company Petco and its director of online marketing Jason Stuempfig, strategic plans included bringing tag management firm Tealium into the mix.  (Read the release.)

Looking over the commerce landscape, Stuempfig says many retailers are becoming “content machines,” i.e. media outlets, and the worry has become that if a retailer isn’t producing a significant amount of quality, digital content then they may be getting ignored. Citing companies such as branded content bellwethers Red Bull, Nike and others, Stuempfig sees that it’s time for Petco to step up. And to make it work, paid media will be a critical element – with tag management and improved attribution at its core.

AdExchanger: Can you talk a little bit about how digital media is evolving within Petco’s overall marketing plan?

JASON STUEMPFIG:   Our company is definitely evolving from a print/traditional media mentality to a completely flexible media strategy where we can be wherever our customers are. I’d like to say that we’re there, but we have a lot of work to do in order to become more digitally focused in all of our marketing.

Having the right tools to leverage the data we’re able to capture is key for us to continue to grow these programs. From a digital perspective, if we can’t tie our online to offline performance together it becomes very hard to justify the digital spend to our top executives. A key for us is finding ways to measure digital performance in an industry that is still primarily an offline industry.

What was the trigger for Petco to think about a tag management platform?

The trigger was twofold.

First and foremost, it was being able to move quickly. As the digital marketer, I need to be able to launch programs in hours to take advantage of a rapidly changing landscape. Doing this without involving IT is an added benefit that greatly improves efficiency.

Another trigger was website performance – making a faster site and giving us the ability to have control over the tags that are firing. We want to know when they are firing, why they are firing and then have the ability to report on it. We have had some very basic elements of control, but nowhere near the level that we need to manage the business at the level it is now.

Is there any particular anecdote you can share that drove home the need for tag management?

Yes. It was Black Friday 2011 and our site traffic was at an all-time high. But, our site speed continued to slow down to the point where we were at 30- to 40-second page-load times. For all intents and purposes our site was down and, of course, at that point our IT team went into crisis mode. We started removing various pixels through our many marketing partners. We had a video partner, social sharing links and a number of other partners and within an hour had to remove upwards of 10 marketing partners in an attempt to speed the site up. At that point, it became very clear that we could not continue to operate that way.

So, what were some of the criteria you were looking for in tag managers?

Initially, we started looking for an attribution partner in that tag management hadn’t really gained steam two years ago. We had a homegrown tag management system, too. But, when we started looking for an attribution partner, it became clear that the integrations were going to require significant time and resources.

So, we paused and took a good look at what we needed and distilled it down to a tag management partner. It could get us a lot of what we wanted from an attribution partner while having the added benefit of speeding up the site, improving my ability to launch digital marketing programs and then freeing us up in the future to have access to the data so that we could use it in a variety of ways – not just with one attribution partner. We could also have the ability to tie it into our existing backend systems.

Why Tealium, in particular?

We evaluated four providers, and when we evaluated Tealium it became clear to me that their platform was built to scale at the enterprise level. The UI (user interface) was much more advanced without being too complicated. I felt like my business users could learn it and use it quickly, but it also was powerful enough that I felt we could do some really detailed things with how we managed our marketing partners with conditional firing rules and the ability to access the data so that we could do analytics on the backend. That was the primary reason we selected Tealium.

In terms of the way their architecture and their content delivery network was set up, we felt very confident that their system was going to be fast and it was going to stay up.

What are the success metrics you’re going to be looking at for your tag management investment?

The most basic success metric is, “Can we, as digital marketers, do our jobs?” Right now it is difficult and can be expensive to keep up with the ever-increasing need for digital programs to perform at scale. That’s success metric number one – being able to keep up with the pace of change in the marketing world.

Success metric number two will be my ability to leverage the platform to gain efficiencies in site speed and in management of my marketing partners. The most obvious example that we see is our affiliate network and how affiliates love to cookie users, and they go to great lengths to do that with many paid channels happening simultaneously. So, “How can I be sure that I am only paying the affiliates for the traffic that they truly send that closes a sale with us?”

That in itself is going to be a success metric that will pay for the platform. And then future success metrics will be my ability to leverage the DataCloud product to tie online to offline behavior. By combining our CRM systems and DataCloud, we’ll be able to link customers online to offline and evaluate the impact of our marketing programs on sales.

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