Attribution Management: A Direct Response & Brand Marketing Tool

Marketers and their agencies typically look at attribution management and the value it provides an organization in direct response terms. Focusing on accurately attributing metrics like conversions, revenue, CPA, ROI, and ROAS makes complete sense when a marketer has responsibility for producing some type of measurable conversion. But a growing number of professionals responsible for moving the needle on brand metrics -- like awareness, preference, consideration and purchase intent not linked to a “hard” conversion -- are also using attribution as a valuable analytics and optimization solution.

Linking Brand Metrics to Media Metrics

However, attribution modeling can be applied to brand metrics to produce insights and recommendations for optimization just as effectively as it can be applied to direct response metrics.  One way to accomplish this is to use user-level data collected through surveys, the traditional means by which most brand marketers establish their metrics.  Specifically, this methodology requires marketers to link brand survey data with marketing performance data using the cookies that are collected during both processes (taking the survey, and being exposed to marketers’ various media tactics).



How It Works

As an example, let’s say that Michelle is surveyed online by a particular brand, either directly or through a third party such as comScore or any number of other panels/researchers. She is asked a series of brand-related questions to which she provides a score of 1-10.  These responses produce Michelle’s unique brand metrics for awareness, preference, consideration, and purchase intent (or any other metric that can be numerically scored in the same fashion).  She completes the survey and hits “submit” – thereby transmitting her scores, along with her unique cookie, to the organization fielding the survey.  Marketers, along with their attribution solution provider, then use Michelle’s survey cookie to link her brand metrics to the identical cookie associated with the touchpoint history data of all of the organization’s marketing initiatives she has been exposed to, and all the behaviors she has exhibited as a result of those exposures.

Once this linkage is made, the marketing attribution modeling process is applied and the appropriate amount of credit earned by every dimension (channel, publisher, keyword, creative, size, placement, click, impression, etc.) of every marketing tactic experienced by Michelle can be calculated and applied to her brand metrics.  Multiply this process by thousands of users like Michelle, and marketers can quantify the impact of their various marketing tactics on their target audience as a whole.

Applying The Findings to Optimization

As these findings are analyzed, optimization strategies quickly become apparent.  What combination of channel, creative, offer, size and placement produced the highest awareness scores?  Which keywords, engines, day-parts and calls to action produce the best purchase intent scores?  With questions like these answered, brand marketers are suddenly on equal footing with their direct response colleagues and can now adjust their spending levels to map to the combination of tactics that produce optimal results.

This is just one of several methodologies that exist for utilizing brand metrics in the attribution process and then optimizing based on the insights they produce – but it’s one that brand marketers who regularly work with survey data can easily understand.  And just as with direct response, utilizing attribution management to calculate the true impact of every channel, campaign, and tactic on your overall brand success will ensure the accuracy and predictability of your brand optimization efforts.




5 comments about "Attribution Management: A Direct Response & Brand Marketing Tool".
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  1. Michael Kaushansky from Havas Media, January 10, 2012 at 11:49 a.m.

    This is great. Which vendors offer the survey to attribution solution

  2. Keith Paul from EMC, January 10, 2012 at 11:59 a.m.

    Wondering who out there is pulling social into this or a similar metric... technology providers like Meteor Solutions seem onto this, but is it ripe yet? Will it be in 2012?

  3. Frank Durousset from Alenty, January 10, 2012 at 12:16 p.m.

    Hi Anto,
    Very nice post indeed !

    We are spending a lot of time in Europe (Paris based) to convince advertisers and their media agencies that they can can do more branding campaigns on line but that they have to change the KPI and analyse ROI through post test and/or instore sales impact measurement.

    Alenty is specialized in precisely measuring and optimizing the ad-exposure for online branding campaigns and we currently integrate our measurement in the main DSP in Europe.

    You can have look at our live demo to better understand how we measure ad-visibility:

    We have partenered with the main market research companies (TNS, Nielsen...) in order for them to do post test based on effective ad exposure. We have taggued their panel with our script and we are able to provide them at the end of each campaign a list of panelists who were really exposed to the campaign (with all the details by creative, site, placements with frequency).

    All the recall post tests we have done with our partners have shown that to get the best recall score an impression has to be seen at least 80% of the time of the creative.

    In addition, efficient repetition is key: the best recall score is obtained with a 4-impression repetition

    We are tracking billions of impressions in Europe for media agencies and publishers and all the campaigns we have tracked showed that only 30% of impressions bought are efficiently seen (at least 80% of the duration of the creative) and less then 5% of people exposed are efficiently exposed 4 times +.

    We are currently working with the main DSP in Europe to automatically feed them with exposure KPI measurement and Efficient CPM calculation per placement.
    On the demand side, this will allow the branding media traders to optimize their maximum bid price according to the efficiency ad-exposure ratio and on the sell side, this will bring more key informations to fix a higher floor price for branding placements.

    Hope this makes senses

  4. Anto Chittilappilly from Visual IQ, January 11, 2012 at 12:29 a.m.

    @Michael: Besides Visual IQ, I am unaware of somebody within the marketplace is providing the surveys to their attribution solutions. But the best course of action for you is to ask for examples of delivery of such a solution from the leading attribution players, as well as references from the brands to which they are providing such solutions.

    @Keith: Thanks for the question Keith. The most sophisticated attribution solutions available today are able to apply the attribution process to your marketing performance regardless of the stimulation channels, response channels or KPIs being fed into the solution. Frankly, data is data, and social media data – provided that the marketer is able to provide it for use within the solution – is no different. The question is whether you have the right partnerships and technologies to harvest such data. So the short answer to your questions is that this is absolutely being done in 2012.

    @Frank: Wish you all the best Frank. We need more people like you educate all markets.

  5. Damon Ragusa from ThinkVine, January 12, 2012 at 9:49 a.m.

    Anto - great post and highly relevant. Marketers are striving for better measurement and more evidence of long term effects of spending and from brand building. And they want to see these effects by different marketing channels. Many attribution models nail short term impacts but miss much of the longer term effect that makes marketing dollars more efficient in out years.

    ThinkVine has been doing similar work of incorporating brand equity/tracking measurements into our cross-channel attribution and optimization system. Our system uses that same data to generate a simulated marketplace by which we can test the impact of touchpoints across all marketing vehicles. The step we're working on today is to better link those "softer" brand equity measurements coming from primary research to the "hard" business performance measures using latent and network models. By identifying those linkages we can connect the two-way interaction between path to purchase and brand equity and ultimately its long-term impact on performance.

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