Marketing Attribution Models Are Not A Magic Wand To Improve Sales
Advertisers may have become more pragmatic when it comes to marketing attribution models and tools, but they are no magic wand. While the right ones bring value to a business, we’re still in
the early days of their implementation. On their own, for instance, most models cannot easily capture the full complexity of the journey taken by customers to make a purchase today. That journey now
takes place across an increasingly fragmented display landscape that came into being following the advent of real-time bidding (RTB) and from the perception that display advertising can drive
performance in a fashion similar to search.
As a result, it’s important to understand that all direct-response advertisers -- from next-generation algorithmic method users to the tried-and-true last-click attribution users -- may have different methodologies when it comes to attribution. However, a clear consensus is emerging about the importance of evaluating whichever model you have in place so that it ultimately has a positive impact on your business.
First of all, you must challenge whatever findings you are provided with by your model. No matter how cutting-edge, a model will always remain just that -- a simplified version of reality for easier review. So it’s important to know where the boundary is between simple and simplistic by getting a clear view of what your model is missing. If you don’t, you might miss out on sales opportunities. Although 80% of direct-response advertisers use last-click, for example, there are now marketing attribution models and methods -- from single-touchpoint to multi-touchpoint -- that enable advertisers to become more sophisticated in their approach to determining ROI across digital channels as well as multiple screens, sales channels, or media. To fully reap the benefits for your business’ needs, you must recognize early on that you’ll need to leverage new technology platforms and skills, be prepared for disruption, and that you may need to develop new relationships with external vendors.
In the meantime, remember what you used to hear about assuming when
you were in grade school? It still holds true when it comes to making the best use of your model for marketing attribution, requiring you not to assume but start testing right away. After all, testing
is the best way to demonstrate causality –- from clearing up doubts concerning the value of a marketing channel to seeing what doubling your spend there would really do to your sales.
Two solutions that you can immediately implement for this purpose are “Second View” -- using advanced attribution tools to examine which channels are most present in the customer journey -- and “A/B Testing,” which involves comparing online behaviors between two groups of users -- one using traditional display and another using performance display. By enriching existing metrics through Second View, you can get a more practical view of the channels which are instrumental for generating sales while A/B Testing can deliver a true measure of causality and keep infrastructure changes at bay before you’re ready.
When it comes to influencing the purchasing decision, there are certain touchpoints that you need to focus on and others whose importance is dubious. For instance, your model shouldn’t include direct traffic or “navigational” channels -- those that enter the customer journey but don’t make a difference in convincing the customers to complete their purchase. In an eConsultancy survey commissioned in by Google in April 2012, only 14% of advertisers said they believed that such touchpoints -- which fall under the rubric of last-click attribution because they are situated one click prior to purchase in the customer journey -- are “very effective.” Although this might not seem like a game-changer when it comes to switching attribution models, it’s actually a big step toward what really matters to you, the advertiser: generating more sales.As a marketer, knowing how to get customers to the cash register is as much your job as making strategic decisions as to what your advertising spend should be. By keeping these suggestions in mind, you may not have found a silver bullet for managing the complexity of marketing attribution models, but you’ll have an improved understanding of your ROI until emerging, more sophisticated, multi-touchpoint models appear in the marketplace.