Digital media buyers started using attribution measurement as a way to understand which aspects of their programmatic, social and search campaigns are contributing the most to campaign performance and/ or lead generation. In digital advertising, attribution measurement can now be done at a user-specific level, what this means is the that most ad-tech platforms apply technology in order to assign a consistent user identifier across all advertising related events. This is opposed to traditional digital media performance analysis, where ROI is generally calculated per user event or group of users because there is no consistent user identifier available.
Attribution is defined by a couple of different things. First, it’s the cause or the origin of an event like a conversion or a download. Second, how much of a customer’s decision can be attributed from exposure to an ad on a certain channel? For example, Jessica bought a pair of shoes because she downloaded a coupon from a specific publisher’s page.
Multi-touch attribution quantifies the influence each advertising impression has on a consumer’s decision to convert by assigning a credit value to each touchpoint. For example Jessica bought her shoes after visiting the retailer’s website several times and then downloading the coupon. Each marketing touchpoint gets x% credit or attribution towards the sale of the shoes.
So Why do Marketers Find Attribution Critical to Their Marketing Efforts?
Today’s Internet users are no longer browsing on a single device but switch from laptops to tablets to desktops to phones and, depending on the device, also interact with different browsers. Another attribution complexity is that users are no longer stuck in a single marketing channel— but are regularly exposed to TV ads, emails, Facebook ads, radio and more. In order for marketers to address a multi-device and multi-channel world they need attribution measurement. Through attribution they can look at users through the lens of the least common denominator—the person, the individual engaging with a brand across all channels, devices and browsers.
Other reasons cited by marketers according to AdRoll’s Annual State of MarTech Industry Report included a “full-funnel approach” that can help brands better assess where a user is in the customer journey and what event led to their conversion. The survey revealed that marketers in 2016 allocated 72% of their budgets to prospecting for new customers, with the most successful channel being paid-for social media according to half of the participants. 32% of the 1,000 US-based marketers surveyed said programmatic display ads were the most effective channel for them.
If you’re not measuring the impact of your marketing efforts—especially in today’s world of fragmented devices and touch points—you are likely missing out on ROI opportunities and wasting spend on channels, strategies and audiences that aren’t performing well. Plus, getting attribution right helps you maximize your learnings to make better business decisions over time. This guide will provide an overview of the what, why and how of attribution in today’s marketing landscape.
Using Attribution Models is Next Step in the Programmatic Media Buying Evolution
An important next step in the evolution of programmatic media buying for marketers, is to improve algorithms based on attribution models. Attribution models can and should be used to improve programmatic media advertising algorithms.
Using an attribution model, the behavior of individual customers can be tracked both cross-platform and cross-device. Individual purchase paths across the customer journey can be observed and used to continuously improve the programmatic media buying algorithm. Using an attribution model marketers can collect more customer data and then they can show relevant ads in ever better places at ever better times.
When attribution models are used to inform programmatic algorithms, marketers gain a more realistic view of ad effectiveness. Plus, with full transparency they can decide how much more relevant it was.
Tips for Moving to Multi-Touch Attribution
Make no mistake—multi-touch attribution requires an investment in cost, time and expertise. However, you can take steps toward shifting your marketing organization’s mindset about attribution.
- Run a data assessment. The results of any attribution exercise are only as useful as the data is accurate, completed and connected across silos.
- The attribution model and product you use should allow you to make ad buying decisions by using the variables that are influential in your conversion goals.
- Have internal meetings to help qualify budget, anticipated goals and expected ROI, infrastructural and technological elements to consider and how multiple systems might need to hook together.
- Choose the right data matching partners, which often comes down to the best match for the type of CRM data (email vs phone numbers, for example) and best practices around data hygiene, including ongoing data cleansing. The more conversion data you have to look at, the fuller the picture of attribution across channels and online-to-in-store sales.
- Prepare to activate and optimize in media. The attribution model and product you use should allow you to decision on the variables that are influential in your conversion goals. Some technology companies offer real-time integration with multi-touch attribution vendors that makes this process simpler and faster to execute on in media.
- Rely on your technology partners, like Digilant, for support in implementing the right solution.