Understanding Return On Ad Spend Is Key To Attribution

Going beyond the last-click model is key to improving digital ad measurement and to understanding attribution. At MediaPost’s Data & Programmatic Insider Summit this week, panelists wrestled with the attribution issue.

What does it mean to go beyond the last click? For starters, achieving genuine transparency in digital advertising requires a commitment by all stakeholders to understanding the true return on ad spend (ROAS), or the incremental sales lift produced by specific campaigns. Insights from past campaigns would theoretically inform media buying for successive campaigns.

Tara Morrissey, head of programmatic marketing at Southern New Hampshire University, noted the challenge of getting someone to click on an ad and break away from the content they’re reading. She asked panelists: “How are you measuring ROAS?”

Brad Chamberlain, media director, Sapient Razorfish, said it all depends on the client’s goals. For example, a client may want to get to fractional attribution, but started with the last-click model of attribution. Getting to multi-touch attribution is an evolutionary process.



For Edward Kim, VP, strategy, Nielsen Catalina, the key question is, “Did my ad drive sales? Not, did it drive someone to take an action.” 

Kim added, “As an industry, we need to focus on what the client really wants, what is the objective, and how do we deliver?” By the same token, clients need to be clear on what they specifically want to achieve, whether it’s conquesting competitors’ customers, launching a new product, or something else.


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