Google Finds Channel Attribution Useful, But Misunderstood

Puzzle-ConnectingMore than half of marketers who responded to a survey on the impact of attribution said understanding the path to conversion allows them to more accurately disburse budgets. Many, however, still don't understand how the process should work.

Marketers have been working to understand how a variety of channels influence sales. In time, the promise of attribution will integrate offline activities, too, but for now this study -- "Marketing Attribution, Valuing the Customer Journey," released Tuesday from Google Analytics and Econsultancy -- looks to optimizing budgets and campaigns for more traditional models and stages.

For those who do understand the process, 52% of client-side marketers report that attribution has led to an increase in spending on some digital channels, and 72% of marketers say that attribution leads to better return on investments.

Once a linear path, the road to conversion becomes complicated as mobile, social, search, television, radio, billboards, automatic identification technologies and other channels join the process.

Not understating attribution remains the biggest challenge in adopting the practice, according to Bill Kee, product manager at Google.

Understanding how channels influence sales through attribution also means a cultural shift at most organizations. Marketers that still rely on the last-click attribution model continue to put most of the company's marketing budgets in channels closest to conversions, such as purchases.

Some 51% of survey respondents named the lack of priority in marketing as the No. 1 barrier to attribution, followed by being unsure how to choose the appropriate model and a need to better understand the potential advantages tied for No. 2 at 42%. Other barriers include a lack of data or access to data to inform the process, 41%; new staff and resources, 37%; lack of budget, 33%; lack of management buy-in, 32%; and attribution technology not yet mature enough, 27%.

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