Should Google and Microsoft step in to require an attribution certification program for AdWords and adCenter, respectively? Attribution management is the science of calculating the contribution of each marketing touchpoint experienced by a consumer through actions generated -- an online purchase or download of a white paper from a Web site.
When it comes to search marketing, thousands of keywords make it difficult for marketers to make the distinction of how to weigh the contribution without access to technology that tracks clicks from platform providers such as Covario, Efficient Frontier, Kenshoo, PM Digital, and Marin Software. Some agencies are attributing revenue to the wrong click, not accrual distributing the contribution to the words that prompted the action.
Yes -- we're stepping into the weeds a bit, but as the industry moves deeper into attribution management, it will become more important to follow specific business practices and reporting guidelines. Small mom-and-pop businesses -- the local ones down the street or the gourmet shops selling exotic food online that helped bring Google to grandeur -- get locked out from using attribution management because budgets don't allow them the use of sophisticated platforms.
How will companies attribute the non-branded keywords -- the ones that contribute to revenue growth for small businesses? Advertisers need to understand how agencies track paid search. Not just the big-box retailers or other mega online behemoths, but the local mom and pops down the street. The industry will continue to move toward attribution management with sophisticated technologies, basically because marketers can't spend the time to look through the clickstreams of reports containing 50,000 keywords.
While Microsoft has been touting attribution for several years, Google released AdWords Search Funnels early last year to help advertisers get the full picture of the ads their customers see on the path to conversion. Google also announced in April the limited pilot of Multi-Channel Funnels in Google Analytics, which remains in limited pilot.
Marketers at companies that have the resources to manage paid-search attribution through technology have a competitive edge because they can't possibly manage it manually. Then tie in display and social. Well, you get the picture.