Attribution Challenges Business Objectives

Search-AMarketers have entered a multitouch world. Identifying the way consumers interact with brands through offline and online paths to measure and reallocate marketing dollars will become the focus of search marketers this year. This requires significant data, technology and support from c-level executives across all business units in the organization to become successful.

Structural changes in business practices within organizations will become a challenge. The dynamics around how inventory is bought and sold must change, and few companies have the incentives to cooperate. Cooperation and collaboration would help the industry to mature, rather than promote companies that remain in silos trying to solve their own agenda.

In a conversation about attribution, Randy Wootton, SVP of sales and marketing at AdReady, cites former Microsoft executive Young-Bean Song, founder of AnalyticsDNA, as explaining how attribution challenges the way most publishers sell inventory -- cost per acquisition (CPA). "Whose data do you count and trust?" he said. "The publisher puts all the money on the final action, so do you use third-party ad serving data or attribution modeling data?"

Marketers must learn to share the knowledge and teach others who don't understand attribution for the good of the ad industry. Technology platform providers and digital ad agencies this year will demonstrate to clients their ability to track the path to conversion, which in turn should help brands to better allocate marketing budgets -- not only online, but offline as well. That integration -- apparent in one interesting path identified in edo's mobile platform -- pulls offline experiences into online purchases at point-of-sale terminals. The advertising platform relies on the swipe of a credit or a debit card to signal an ad to serve up on a mobile phone. The ad is activated by the swipe at the point of sale (PoS).

It's not the attribution tool that Pinterest introduced earlier this month that attributes or credits photos from Flickr, YouTube and others to the original artist -- but it is a similar idea. This type of cross-channel strategy will rely on technology and expertise from platforms and agencies such as GroupM, the WPP media agency recently cited by Forrester Research in The Forrester Wave: Cross-Channel Attribution Providers, Q2 2012. Others cited include Visual IQ, Adometry, and ClearSaleing, as well as IBM, Convertro, C3 Metrics, Adobe, and Google.

Data management platform providers have also stepped in to offer services. BlueKai introduced a partner program supporting attribution and modeling. And with companies like eXelate and Turn integrating data in the Turn Audience Platform, giving marketers the ability to target large volumes of online audiences, I wonder whether a dashboard for attribution modeling will become a necessary tool heading into 2013.

IgnitionOne also released a feature in its Digital Marketing Suite (DMS) that allows marketers to compare multiple attribution profiles from the Analytics section of the tool. Each attribution path shows the credit attributable to media, such as display, search, video and social ads.

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3 comments about "Attribution Challenges Business Objectives".
  1. Andrew Koven from Geoff & Drew's , May 10, 2012 at 10:18 p.m.
    At some point, brands and retailers need to follow the lead of the CPG industry and team up systemically to share conversion data across all purchasing channels. Brands need the ability to measure the effectiveness of their marketing investments. At the end of the day, this is what drives well informed, additional investments and addresses the ROI challenge, namely lack of visibility into what's working and where.
  2. Laurie Sullivan from lauriesullivan , May 10, 2012 at 10:23 p.m.
    Yes, Andrew. Thank goodness someone gets it.
  3. Tom Francoeur from Communispace , May 11, 2012 at 10:33 a.m.
    Another great article on the data overload marketers today face. (I blogged about this earlier this week: http://bit.ly/J3j5MN). Attribution technology and tools have the potential to provide the insights marketers need to understand their most profitable channels and offers.