Attribution: How Organizational Structures Fit

Numbers-DataCan too much data make attribution more complex? Matt Ackley, director of media and platforms at Google, argues too much data can cloud the outcome and make it too complicated -- especially for execs of business units within an organization who don't understand online marketing.

Analytical models and technology continue to evolve, but organizations need to gain a better understanding. Explaining to divisions within a company how media works together becomes 90% of the challenge, Ackley said. Prior to joining the Mountain View, Calif. company, he ran online marketing at eBay, and found that gaining acceptance from other divisions within a company -- such as finance -- became the biggest hurdle for cross-channel attribution.

Sometimes ROI can become too measurable for folks in departments who don't understand online marketing. Ackley said eBay ROIed campaigns "to death" following a one-hour last-click attribution model for search. The purchases required a keyword in the title that marketers bought.

Understanding how to integrate silos of ad data is becoming an increasing concern for marketers -- yet all but a couple of hands went down after Janel Landis Laravie, co-founder at Chacka Marketing, asked marketers at the MediaPost Search Insider Summit to raise their hand if they use the same third-party platform to manage and track paid search, display, and email.

The more difficult technology challenge becomes constructing a strategy, rather than viewing data in a dashboard -- which only gives marketers insights from a rear-view mirror, explains Kevin Lee, Chairman and CEO at Didit. Lee, who majored in economics, said marketers need to construct environments of an experiment to understand the value. It's not attribution, he said, but media-mix modeling, that marketers also need to consider.

The math continues to catch up with marketers. Lee said media types -- especially paid -- have different marginal elasticity, so attribution charts that only value touchpoints and do not take into consideration paid-search clicks versus ad impressions will fail. He also said clients continue to keep direct-response and brand budgets in silos, and until that changes, technology will not solve anything.

Roger Barnette, president at IgnitionOne, agrees. Marketing departments within organizations have not evolved to reflect the maturity of user behavior. Brands still develop budgets per channel, and often don't see the value of how display ad views interact with paid-search queries and clicks. 

Marketers also often forget about call tracking. Barnette said the value of tracking a call varies widely, depending on the type of business. For example, for hotels the company can tie back a reservation to the click. The call becomes a proxy metric or revenue statistics.

Providing an example of combining organic and paid-search ads, BrightEdge CEO Jim Yu said combining the two for a specific brand drove a 44% increase in return on investment on campaigns by looking at well-ranking areas and shifting the spend to those that were not performing as well.

Clients leave money on the table, Barnette said. So what's keeping marketers from gaining an integrated marketing channel and capitalizing on attribution? For starters, the group agreed that it's not about measuring and gaining metrics from all paths and channels --it's important to reach agreement from c-level executives to educate other parts of the organization about attribution, and recognize that call tracking can also integrate into the mix.

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1 comment about "Attribution: How Organizational Structures Fit".
  1. Walter Sabo from SABO media , April 30, 2012 at 4:27 p.m.
    no executives understand online marketing