I remember the day I bought my first smartphone -- the IBM Simon -- which was so long ago that it was actually called a “personal digital assistant.” I excitedly opened the package, charged it up, started reading through the manual on all the intriguing features -- and then my head started to spin. I started slow and eventually learned the ropes of my new machine. I never imagined I would use a phone to do all these other things -- but fast-forward to today when, like most of you, I’ve become a smartphone “power-user.”
The Adoption Curve
Just as smartphones were in the mid-1990s, the practice of marketing attribution is still relatively new. And as with the adoption curve for smartphones, the understanding and use of attribution is increasing. More and more marketers and their agencies are recognizing the benefits of scientifically calculating the appropriate amount of monetary credit that should be given to every channel, campaign and tactic that contribute to their overall marketing success, though only a select few have mastered it all.
Just the Basics
On a basic level, attribution produces reports with data containing insights at a single dimension, such as channel “A” is contributing X% to your success, compared to channel “B” at Y% and channel “C” at Z%. The data contained in these reports enables you to at least recognize the need to reallocate your budget to the marketing attribute (in this case, the channel) that is contributing most to your success. Think of this level as the bare bones of your smartphone: learning to place and receive calls.
The next stage of attribution’s sophistication is its ability to produce reports containing data across multiple dimensions, such as display ad “A” containing creative “B,” with size “C” on publisher “D” contributing X% to your success – compared to other combinations of attributes. This data reveals many more optimization “buttons” that you can push, enabling you to reallocate your spend at a much more granular level across many more marketing attributes. Think of this as now using your phone to send emails and texts as well.
Taking the Next Step
But there’s still the issue of interpreting the data that’s revealed by attribution and effectively translating it into specific actions to optimize your marketing portfolio. So the next level of attribution’s sophistication is utilizing your solution’s ability to actually provide a complete set of spending recommendations at the most granular, multidimensional level. This eliminates the need to translate insights into actions, and to manually figure out the hundreds, if not thousands of tweaks to be made to your spending across all of your channels, campaigns and attributes. Now you’re using your smartphone to browse the Web, take photos and play games.
Making the Most of It
Beyond the use of attribution’s multidimensional recommendations is the need to fully close the loop on the attribution process. This level of sophistication involves your solution’s ability to predict the outcome of each multidimensional recommendation, establish goals for the results to be achieved by acting on each recommendation, and then ultimately compare your actual results to those goals. Only in this way can you determine the effectiveness of the attribution process as a whole and identify the specific recommendations that had the greatest impact on increasing your marketing performance. This is akin to checking Facebook, maintaining your calendar and syncing your smartphone to your computer.
Attribution’s adoption curve is on a sharp incline, and learning how to use its simpler “buttons” first is certainly a wise course of action. But keep your eye on the prize: be aware that closing the attribution loop can provide the most effective benefits. Make it your goal to eventually take advantage of attribution’s full feature set.