There are a couple old sayings used by carpenters:
And just as these two concepts result in trouble-free and higher quality carpentry, the same can be said for taking the appropriate steps before starting a marketing attribution initiative within your company.
The following is an inventory of the proper “tools” to assemble, and “measurements” to double-check.
The first tools to identify are all your “impression channels “ – those in which you invest money to communicate with your target market to acquire customers or increase brand equity – and your “response channels” – those through which you currently record conversions. Some channels may fall into both types, and some may fall into only one type or the other.
For each of the channels within each of the channel types above, identify the individual(s) within your organization responsible for the management and performance of that channel. These individuals will be key stakeholders in the implementation of your attribution solution, will be personally affected by the organizational changes that will stem from that implementation and will serve as the “go-to” experts on the data, performance and business rules associated with those channels.
Next, for each of the channels within each of the channel types above, identify any agencies or media/platform partners that have responsibility for managing any part of the buying process, or managing any part of the performance measurement/reporting process. Within these partner organizations, identify the individuals who own these responsibilities. As with your internal stakeholders, these individuals will be your “go-to” experts and participants in the implementation process.
From the appropriate individuals above, obtain samples of any media plans or buying documentation for any of the impression channels where such documents exist. The information contained in these documents will inform the implementation process in terms of how each channel is being purchased, at which degree of granularity, using what internal jargon/naming/taxonomy. Once these samples are obtained, have the individuals sign off to verify that these documents are the “source of truth” for their media buying.
From the appropriate individuals above, obtain samples of any performance reports for any of the response channels where such reports exist. Similar to the media plans, the information contained in these reports will inform the implementation process in terms of how the performance of each channel is being reported, at which degree of granularity, using what internal jargon/naming/taxonomy. These documents will also illuminate what metrics are being reported upon, and what key performance indicators (KPIs) are being used to assess the performance of each channel. Have the individuals sign off to verify that these reports are the “source of truth” for their performance reporting.
Finally, ask the individuals responsible for each impression channel and response channel to determine whether there is a point in their current process when media plans are compared to actual results, and if any documentation of those comparisons exits. If it exists, collect that documentation, as it will inform how current expectations are mapped to current performance, and how those two ends of the spectrum are aligned or misaligned. Have the individuals sign off to verify that these documents are the “source of truth” for their plan vs. actual comparisons.
Obtain the Raw Data
Beyond the reports that reflect channel performance, it’s imperative that the implementation process be informed by the total universe of data that’s available. So, from the appropriate individuals above, obtain samples of actual files of the performance data from each of the data sources for each response channel. Be sure to obtain a corresponding schema that specifies the parameters, definitions and taxonomy of every field within this data, and require that the individual(s) responsible for that channel sign off on the accuracy of each schema. Once the raw data that constitutes every response channel is understood, this will inform how that data can be normalized to a common set of KPIs – which is required for the attribution process to function properly.
Identify Your Optimization Processes
Last but not least, connect with the individual(s) responsible for each impression channel and obtain from them any documentation on the analysis, decision-making and optimization execution process they use. If no such documentation exists for a specific channel, work with the individuals responsible to create documentation, and require that they sign off on the accuracy of the documentation.
Once all the information above is collected, you can feel confident that your organization has assembled a robust set of tools to get the attribution job done, has measured twice to ensure accuracy, and is ready to start building your attribution implementation.