Cross-Channel Attribution Model On Track To Replace The Last Click

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Say bye-bye to the last click as the de facto measurement tool. Tools are being developed that Forrester Research analysts believe will have an impact on the way that advertising allocates ad budgets across media channels, from online to offline.

Forrester Research recently published a report titled "The Forrester Wave: Interactive Attribution, Q4 2009," focusing on what Analyst Emily Riley calls "the bleeding edge of an industry change."

Online advertising has always held the promise of being the most accountable medium, but execs in the industry now realize models need to measure much more across many advertising channels. Riley says cross-channel attribution is so new that companies offering the metrics model and the technology comprise a "motley crew" from across the industry.

Most of the "solutions" are not "fully baked and few of the companies offer a full service media buy, where the company does the measurement, analysis and reallocates the media buy," she says.

Riley identifies financial services, travel, consumer electronics and telecommunications as industry segments leading the adoption of new metrics and technologies. She points to Allstate insurance as an example. Allstate offers many services, but different marketing groups support each with varying budgets. "They might be spending a ton of money for online media, and some of the campaigns might even overlap," Riley says.

Using an attribution model allows Allstate to track back and monitor all the different ads people see that might contribute to the sale. This would enable Allstate to better understand the value of each campaign.

For the model to work, the "nerdy" part requires the company to use the model to have "statistical significance in the data" and a "confidence level in the lift." The goal is to forgo giving credit to things that are not influential.

"If you have a 1% or 2% lift but a 3% confidence level, it's not enough," Riley says. "A lot relies on regression analysis and algorithms. You need smart analysis and application to figure out the combinations that work."

Companies offering technology and metrics include Atlas, ClearSaleing, Coremetrics, Theorem, TruEffect, Visual IQ, and [x+1]. Each continues to build out and perfect technology that measures influential points across advertising channels. The report suggests each company's strengths and weaknesses.

"Optimizing the engine to the last click will get you to the wrong answer," says John Nardone, [X+1] CEO. "Getting the data together in one place to analyze it was a difficult process. We had to do a fair bit of technical development to do that."

Companies that can't afford to make the investment in the technology can at least assign equal credit to each ad medium that contributes to the final sale, Riley says. Some marketers believe assigning equal credit across all "touchpoints" is a more reasonable way to assign credit, compared with the last click.

Between 5% and 10% of marketers think about deploying attribution management across multiple media, but a larger number use attribution just in search, Riley says. Attribution is taking hold most quickly in the search industry, supported by companies, such as 360i and Range Online Media.

Riley, along with Forrester Analysts Michael Greene, Nate Elliott, and Emily Bowen, lay out the technology and metrics for attributing all points across multiple channels. The report suggests the market is poised to embrace a fundamental shift away from last-click measurement and toward attribution measurement to provide credit across all interactive media types, channels and interactions.

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3 comments about "Cross-Channel Attribution Model On Track To Replace The Last Click".
  1. Jeff Greenfield from C3 Metrics , October 26, 2009 at 8:33 p.m.

    Just as the 'wave' has yet to (& probably will not) replace email -- it is highly unlikely that 'Cross-Channel Attribution' will replace last click.

    I don't anticipate Google giving up their PPC platform nor will Commission Junction change their business model for a 'piece' of the attribution pie.

    At C3 Metrics, we instruct our clients that we currently live and will continue to live in a 'last click world' -- but that doesn't stop smart marketers from using smart data to make smart decisions.

    If you're a smart marketer - please take a moment and read "The Hushed Hidden Gaps of Online Media Tracking" @ C3 Metrics.com

  2. Christopher Brinkworth from TagMan , October 27, 2009 at 1:08 p.m.

    Agree with Jeff. TagMan's role as the Industry's "Universal Container Tag" allows you to facilitate all of these services - so we have an insight on how businesses look at each model for their own 'end objective'.

    Looking at the complex models evolving - I would suggest that an 'accepted' industry standard will arise - with input from bodies such as IAB, AAAA etc to ensure at least a base-line for people to negotiate from. If a rule wanders too far from that standard - respectable companies will just not deal.

    Indeed - the National Retail Federation are already working on an SIG for attribution models.


  3. Mike Einstein from the Brothers Einstein , October 27, 2009 at 4:04 p.m.

    About time marketers said bye-bye to the last click, because consumers already have. And these lastest, greatest metric machinations notwithstanding, the simple truth is that in an on-demand world nobody demands more advertising.

    By any measure, the days of advertising as intermediary are rapidly winding down, and any suggestion to the contrary (hey, I'm just the messenger) smacks of a classic case of not being able to see the Forrester for the C3s.