The Real Point of Integration? Solving The Attribution Puzzle

Everyone talks about integration and how important it is for advertisers in a multi-channel communication world. Many agencies and clients have added huge digital capabilities to their asset base of tools and technology. But, in many cases, these have added to confusion because the real test of integration is the ability to define and identify attribution and provide an accurate measure of results. And, of course, to understand the cross-media and cross-device pathway.

 What needs to be done when we look at attribution is to understand the relative value of each channel, when, where and how the communication occurs and how it is measured.  In other words how many impressions are attributed to each channel and what is their individual value as well as their cumulative value.

Digital advertising has exploded, and with it both the device and the method of communicating. Beyond the desktop and laptop, mobile advertising on tablets and smartphones is on the rise. Social media may very well be the wave of the future, as well as video. And, of course, search continues to proliferate. 



Perhaps the biggest problem, and biggest challenge to the industry, is that there is no standard analytic foundation for assigning values to each type of communication. It really is not the last click or last viewable impression that has the most value.  Value should be measured as an accumulation of exposures, the sequence of exposures and their timing. And what is their expected ROI? 

As it pertains to traditional advertising media, non DR digital advertising is often measured by CPM impressions. But that does not tell us much about effectiveness. And when more than one type of communication is utilized, we also have no way of assigning the true value of each, how they influence each other and how they contribute to the overall effectiveness of the campaign. 

It seems to me, that each advertiser should at least be able to assign a weighted value to ads that viewers see, from the first to the last. It may be different for different categories based on the type of purchase and the decision process, different for the type of message and different for the way the message is received.

Oftentimes these factors are subjective, but they are better served by research data and analytics.  According to a recent ANA survey, almost all Chief Marketing Officers believe “data-based decisions are the most crucial way to deal with changes in the industry.” But many say they don’t have the right metrics up and running. Sequencing is an important consideration in determining how well a campaign is working and which elements work best. And the data used to create the best model or algorithm is essential. So let’s get on it and make a bigger impression.

Mike Drexler is co-founder and Managing Partner of Drexler/Fajen & Partners

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