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Once a marketing campaign is done, all promotions have run and the bills are paid, what do clients always want to know? What’s the return on investment?

Ah, the ROI question. It can be a conundrum, can’t it? Answering it has always been a challenge requiring strategic measurement to arrive at an educated estimate. And still it’s inexact because the real goal is to prove an ad is directly connected to an outcome. Which has made pinning down exact ROI challenging.

Until now. That’s what jhP learned, thanks to new tracking technology provided by Arrivalist, a leading location-change attribution company.

In a 2014 tourism marketing campaign, jhP was the first to facilitate a partnership between Arrivalist and a statewide entity to put this new technology to the test. We prepped our creative messaging for each audience, attached a tracking pixel to each ad, specified our target markets, established the boundaries of our tourism destination and conservatively defined true arrivals – filtering out weekly commuters, nearby airport travelers and other vague arrivals (which amounted to 100,000+ people at any given moment). We also placed ads through various ad networks and publishers to ensure no single placement would skew the numbers.

Then, we launched our campaign and what did we find? Delightful results. Every time a person who had been exposed to one of our digital ads arrived at the destination, their mobile data pinged our reporting interface – even months after we wrapped the campaign. And we achieved the holy grail of marketing: True ROI directly tied to promotions.

We learned which ads travelers had encountered, when they arrived and where they came from. Plus, we shifted our 2015 ad placements based on what we now know for a fact made the difference. We’ll be spending more on the promotions that work best for our target audiences.

And the client? They know why they’re spending what they’re spending where they’re spending it for 2015. So they’re thrilled with the Partnership.

Alissa Menke

Senior digital strategist for jones huyett Partners. She recently presented on jhP’s work with Arrivalist to pinpoint tourism marketing ROI at the Digital Media Travel Summit in New York City.