Wouldn’t it be great if everything worked on a one-to-one basis? The world would be just perfect for us digital marketers if very first time you advertised to a consumer, they visited your site and purchased right then and there.
Well of course that’s not the way it works. The consumer journey is messy. It involves different touchpoints with marketing/advertising across various mediums. After all that hard work we do as marketers to build strategies and translate them into campaigns through various tactics, how can we be sure we’re getting the credit we deserve?
A latency window, also known as a look back window, is just that – a mechanism that helps give marketing tactics credit for a subsequent action, like a sale, after a period of time has elapsed between the engagement with a marketing tactic and the action itself. I think examples are always helpful, so let’s try one.
If you have a display campaign and a user clicks through on January 1st. Then on January 14th, she remembers that she liked what she saw so she comes back your site directly and buys your product. You can set up your web analytics tool to enable reports to give credit to a latent tactic and define how long that window is valid.
If we defined a 30 day latency window, then our display program would get credit for the sale, since less than 30 days have passed between the click through (Jan 1) and the sale (Jan 14). If however, we set our latency window to a stricter period of time, say 7 days, then the sale falls outside of the latency window (14 days > 7 days), therefore display would not get credit.
This example is overly simplistic and assumes no other marketing channels influenced the sale during this period, but hopefully this gives you a framework to understand latency and why it’s important to marketers.