Commentary

Everyone Wants Multitouch Attribution. Now What?

Overall awareness of multitouch attribution is fairly high, but hurdles remain in terms of advertiser adoption.  Advertisers have just started to identify internal experts who are focused on return on investment for each media channel.

While market-mix modeling is helpful, it doesn’t go far enough, and it’s not terribly actionable. When market-mix modeling is combined with multitouch attribution tactics, marketers can see more clearly how each media channel is performing and tease out actionable insights that they can use in real time.  Amy Mitchell, general manager of Convertro, a unit of AOL Platforms, says advertisers have access to more user-level data than ever before. And that data is showing them how consumers are making their decisions and which media channels are influencing them to take an action or convert—online and offline.

“We’re seeing that clients want one solution, an aggregate view. They want to know how to make tactical, in-flight campaign optimization decisions with user-level data,” Mitchell explains.  She says market-mix modeling can be combined or integrated with multitouch attribution tactics to create a more holistic view for advertisers.

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Marketers take user-level data from addressable channels and TV set-top-box data and combine it with aggregate-level data—ranging from out-of-home and print media to marketplace economic conditions, seasonality and brand affinity. Basically, marketers want full transparency of the customer’s journey and an understanding of “every single piece of media they might be exposed to,” Mitchell says. That journey has gotten a lot more convoluted since there are so many more devices, screens and so-called "touchpoints." Marketers want to know which channels are propelling which behaviors and, of course, conversions.

So what’s most important vis-à-vis multitouch attribution? In Mitchell’s view:

1. Trust in the data: Marketers are putting a high value on it and are confused by discrepancies in the data. When you combine all the data to look at the customer journey, the data must be high-quality.

2. Being able to take action on the data is critically important: How is one site performing vs. another, which audience is performing better and what is the cost-per-acquisition? In order for marketers to buy their media in an automated fashion, they need to be prepared to change creative quickly or switch dollars from one media channel or platform to another. Then, they need to be able to take quick and decisive action on the insights the data yields.

3. Change management: Are advertisers ready for multitouch attribution? Internally, are they prepared to get buy-in? They need to understand how to get budgets approved. And, will they even know how to manage an engagement with a multitouch attribution service provider?

4. Have a holistic view: Advertisers need to know how everything’s working together. Advertisers can get “analysis paralysis” if they see too many discrepancies in the data, Mitchell says.

Mitchell advocates taking advantage of technology to automate the ingestion of as many data sources as possible.  Striking the right balance between technology and strategic management is important. While technology can help, advertisers will need subject-matter experts (yes, real human beings) to help distill insights. Mitchell’s company dubs this “tech-enabled service.” It’s a fine line between tech and people.

“But when you’re linked to a programmatic platform, it’s 10 times easier to get the benefits of the insights. You can take immediate action,” Mitchell explains.

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