*Originally posted on Adweek

Ten years ago, the Chief Marketing Officer was a perfunctory role, often relegated to coming up with a big creative idea for the Super Bowl. Today, CMOs are tasked with driving the top-line revenue growth for their organization. Their biggest challenge is measuring the efficacy of their marketing.

But in an era where there are 7.7 connected devices in an American household, keeping track of the customer’s path(s) to purchase is, well, pretty difficult.

The advertising adage that “media budgets follow consumer usage” isn’t quite true anymore. For example, consumer behavior has moved to mobile devices. According to Flurry, a Yahoo-owned mobile analytics company, the average American spends 2 hours 57 minutes staring at their mobile screens each day, compared to the 2 hours 48 minutes spent watching TV. Television ad spend in 2014 was $68.5 billion, according to eMarketer, but mobile advertising was a marginal $18 billion.

In what world does this make sense? Audiences are spending more time on smartphones than in front of TVs, and yet mobile represents only a quarter of the overall budget?

The reality is that media budgets today don’t follow the eyeballs. Rather, they’re directed where there is reliable measurement and tracking, where the CMO can demonstrate a return. Since mobile can’t properly track ad exposure to a sale—two out of three mobile devices can’t accept third-party cookies—this holds back the portion of the media budget that could go to mobile ads and reach audiences where they’re actually spending their time.

The other significant reality is that offline sales still dominate. Ninety-four percent of the commerce in the U.S. happens in-store, and only 6.5 percent occurs via e-commerce. The industry loves to talk about how we have all these great tools to help us track, measure and target everything. However, we don’t have a great way to track how digital advertising exposure impacts an actual in-store purchase. How can we know if John is buying his new laptop at the Big Box Store because, perhaps, he saw an advertisement promoting that particular sale?

The biggest opportunity for today’s CMOs is solving this dilemma of linking ad exposures to both e-commerce and offline sales, and proving that an ad strategy is working. Organizations that bridge this gap will have a competitive advantage in the market by being able to directly tie ad exposure to sales.

Which brings us to social platforms—the epitome of “real time.” Solving the problem between linking online and offline data comes down to registered users, and social platforms play a significant role in this given their scale.

With cookies, the best we get is a person’s DMA, age group and types of online behavior. Conversely, with registration-based sites, users supply names, locations, email addresses and interests. We also know what devices they’re using. These platforms provide a unique link that allows advertisers to check whether someone went into a store and used that same registration information.

People-based advertising is set to become a mega-trend over the next two to three years, as CMOs look for options beyond Facebook and simple cookie-based targeting. The reduced reliance on cookies is helping drive this need for people-based programs, and marketers who embrace this technology will be ahead of the game.

At Viant, we have built the technology platform to solve the CMO’s dilemma. We launched the Advertising Cloud—the only end-to-end, fully integrated suite of ad tech applications available on-demand. The Viant Advertising Cloud gives advertisers the ability to onboard and activate their rich customer databases for personalized ad campaigns. It also allows them to directly measure the ad campaign’s impact on sales, all the way down to the customer level. Our customers are using this level of transparency to gain real insights into what is moving the needle for their businesses.

During seven months of private beta testing, our clients saw 10–20x the ROI compared to other solutions that are not able to connect offline and online ad and sales data.

It’s time for the technology that the industry crows about—sophisticated targeting, tying sales to advertising, etc.— to actually deliver on its promises. Smarter tools mean smarter campaigns, and smarter campaigns mean the CMOs of the future will be able to rest a bit easier knowing exactly what they got for their money.

Learn more about the Viant Advertising Cloud™ in the video below: