One of the things that marketers, data scientists and advertisers alike love about digital is the opportunity to hold marketing truly accountable. That is, attribute true return on investment to digital initiatives. But you do not have to sacrifice accountability when measuring offline initiatives. There are plenty of ways to use digital tools to monitor the success of offline advertising. Below are a few simple ways to accomplish this:

1. Use vanity URLs

By creating landing pages specific to an offline initiative, you can track how effective the call to action is. For example, let’s say that you’re running an ad for your Miami hotel in Travel Florida magazine citing your recent award as the Best Hotel on South Beach. Instead of including your generic website (, send users to a specific landing page that will indicate to you from where they came. To do this, you can simply use a vanity URL that redirects to a page with more specific tracking code. An example might be that redirects to Using this tracking code allows you to see that the South Beach campaign in Travel Florida magazine in Feb 2013′s issue sent you x clicks and x conversions, without the consumer having to memorize a long and convoluted URL.

2. Integrate social media into offline channels

You’ve no doubt seen this everywhere. 70% of Super Bowl commercials incorporated a hashtag or Twitter handle. You may not be able to tell how many people watched your commercial, but you will get a good idea of how many social influencers saw it and had a comment. Additionally, these branded hashtags enable brands to see immediate, real-time response to offline initiatives. You won’t have to wait for a focus group to tell whether or not people liked your commercial, hated the new jingle or think your promotion is amazing. For more information about how brands can integrate social and TV, check out this post on the second screen phenomenon. Hashtags can also be used in print ads. Though not as timely as TV, it can still drive consumer conversation online, where it can be better monitored by your brand.

3. Unique coupon codes

People are always in search of a good deal. Since you’re in tune with your customer needs (right?), you are willing to give them a discount. However, it is not useful to use one discount code for every channel. To best assess which offline channels are driving conversions on your website, use unique coupons and promo codes. If your ad is running in Lucky Magazine, give out the promo LUCKYMAG. If your ad is read aloud on Sirius XM’s Highway radio, use promo code HIGHWAY. This is a remarkably easy way to tell how people found your brand and how they were influenced to buy your product.

4. Use sound recognition apps to drive to your website

You may have seen the Shazam icon pop up on your television every now and then when watching a commercial. If you open a sound recognition app like Shazam, it will take you to the website. This essentially works like scanning a QR code from a print ad. It’s great for those looking to measure engagement with radio or TV ads, but the users must also already have the app, which may impact the volume of consumers interacting on this platform.

5. Site intercept surveys

Site intercept surveys are conducted on-site and ask the users a few questions about their website experience. Consider incorporating a question about how the user found your site. To measure the impact of offline versus online, offer options like: online search, television ad, radio ad, newspaper, social media and friend referral. Though this will just be a sample of those who visit your site, it will give you a good idea about how people are becoming exposed to your brand. How likely to convert is a consumer coming from an offline channel versus an online channel?

All of these tactics can help you measure the impact of your offline initiatives using digital tools as a means of accountability. They also give you the ability to make data-driven decisions about your marketing initiatives. Are you reaching the right audience on the channel that they prefer most? Granular tracking of your marketing is the only way to measure success beyond convenience metrics, attributing ROI down to specific campaigns, ads and platforms.