Where Display Fits

BambergerAt this point, every marketer knows consumers live in a cross-channel and cross-device world. Customers interact with your media several times before converting. Understanding what those conversion paths look like and how different channels interact is key when it comes to mandatory optimizing media decisions, and deciding what role display should play in the mix.

This is referred to as attribution — understanding what is happening along the conversion path for each channel and the degree of influence each touch point has on conversion. Attribution allows you to analyze channels, providing insights to help optimize media and conduct accurate media-mix modeling.
But you may say, “I just care about display. Can you just tell me how that is helping conversions?” I could, but it would be like watching a soccer match and only being allowed to see one player. He ran around a lot and passed the ball, but without seeing the whole picture and every player, it’s impossible to understand the true value of his actions.

This interplay is often seen clearly in the interaction of display advertising and paid search. These are not two silos with separate goals and customers. When someone converts on your site, it is often due to the symbiosis of both channels.

Paid search does not excel at creating demand. In most cases, paid search needs something to create awareness and cause the user to search for a product name or related term. This is especially true for brand terms, which are the top performing words in paid search. Display ads can be the catalyst that drives search.  
Both also work together when using “search retargeting” to present display ads after a user searches. The user doesn’t need to click on a search ad or visit the client’s site in order to be entered into the cookie pool for search retargeting. Advertisers can employ a variety of rtb outlets to cherry-pick these users who have searched but not converted.

Last-Click: Least Effective

Through conversion-path analysis, we’re able to verify the assist provided by a display view or click. Our attribution studies have shown that display views appear as a touch point in 20 percent to 25 percent of conversions that eventually get credited to search (paid or organic) if one were using a last-click attribution model.

Only giving credit to the last click often favors search, due to the nature of a consumer’s behavior. However, this completely ignores the many touch points that assist along the way and disregards the effectiveness of a proper media mix. A recent study by eMarketer showed that 54 percent of marketers still use last-click attribution, but those same marketers see it as the least effective model. It may be the easiest attribution model, but it is often the worst.

If you only look at last click, you will likely undervalue an important channel like display. And when you don’t fully see the value of the channel, it is more difficult to invest correctly in it. This leaves you with a poor media mix, and you’re not using an important channel like display to its fullest.

When looking at our retail clients and the effect display has within multichannel conversion paths, we see interesting patterns. Display plays a big role in increasing the average order value (aov) of conversions when it is a part of the exposure path. Display drives a 16 percent higher aov when it’s at the beginning of the path and converts users 43 percent faster than other multichannel paths.  

What we can learn from this is that with the right combination of media, conversions can happen more quickly and require fewer exposures to close a deal. Understanding this interplay can help you determine the value of each exposure. Feeding this insight back into your media optimization is where the true value of attribution lies.
Display is a powerful piece of your media mix, but it can often be undervalued. To fully optimize all of your cross-channel media, you must first understand how each of the pieces work together. Last-click attribution modeling will not cut it in this cross-channel world and to give display its fair shake you must dig a little deeper.

Bamberger is a founder of Innovation Interactive and runs its IgnitionOne’s Display Advisor Group.

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