Improve Cross-Channel Attribution Capabilities, Embrace The Possibilities

Marketers may not fully understand the benefits of measuring each branded touchpoint. They have an infinite aversion to risk and the industry has therefore been slow to adopt new cross-channel attribution models. 

To gain a more holistic view of campaign performance, prove business value and definitively tie marketing efforts to tangible results, the industry must change its approach and embrace cross-channel attribution to improve ultimate ROI.

Adoption is lagging

Despite many years of discussing the need for new models of digital advertising attribution, many organizations are still using traditional last-touch attribution models, meaning marketers are unable to understand the effectiveness of their digital marketing mix and communicate this analysis to senior level executives. 

Several factors have led to this labored adoption, including lack of expertise and budget. It has become clear that a need to allocate proportional credit to all elements of a marketing campaign and not only the last touchpoint is now vital. Today, marketers are beginning to shift priorities and focus on attribution. To gain a more three-dimensional view, companies need to integrate offline channels into the mix, too.



Today, just over half (50.6%) of U.S. companies are using multichannel attribution models for their digital marketing efforts, according to eMarketer, but we are not there yet; an omnichannel, holistic approach to attribution must become the norm.

Using data holistically

Progressive organizations are using their data in the right way. They have an understanding of the first-, second-, and third-party data assets best-suited to offer genuine insight into digital, TV and offline actions. In-house marketing data must not be overlooked as this also allows marketers to look at disparate campaigns more holistically. 

Consumer identity mapping tools have provided better insight into buying patterns and marketers are gaining the confidence to embrace new cross-channel integration models and subsequently drive business goals. On the flip side, there are now many providers and measurement technologies to choose from; large brand advertisers need to push for just one, cross-channel measurement tool to pull all campaign results into one place for large-scale, accurate insights.

Interest and intention is there, and while there’s no shortage of companies trying to bring more integrated systems to market, widespread adoption of a more holistic solution is still far off. Combining the necessary tools, technologies and tactics required to achieve that integrated customer view is a deliberate process.

Metrics are proxy for useful information

While there are now several attribution models, measuring actions across multiple devices is not a perfect science for those without the integrated technology and data infrastructures required to support these objectives. 

Marketers today want hard metrics that prove business value and definitively tie marketing efforts to tangible results. Traditional KPI’s such as visits, click-through rates and last-click attribution still exist, but are fading away in favor of these metrics. 

An organization wishing to integrate its data and technology must be ready to invest in the process and put in place a robust data stack. Michael Cohen, head of data and analytics at Convertro, an attribution firm owned by AOL, said “that one piece of an investment can take years for an organization to achieve [and] there’s other work to be done, in terms of designing an organization that aligns with the underlying decision.”

Organizational alignment is critical and can be seen in Visual IQ’s acquisition by measurement company Nielsen. The opportunity to combine audience data points available within the Nielsen data set with the attribution analysis from Visual IQ is a bonus. However, this additional benefit comes with a caveat: initially picking the correct attribution partner is of vital importance. Technologies already exist to join disparate data-points outside of attribution vendors themselves, so ensuring an attribution partner is picked for the type of attribution they offer, specific to the company they are doing it for, is key.

Closing the gap

If we are to deliver competitive brand campaigns, understand and prove their value in the future, the industry needs to advance and the status quo of last-touch attribution must change. Marketers hold the power and must drive this change so that cross-channel attribution becomes the norm. 

To close the gap and achieve this, organizations need a holistic data strategy to leverage not only first-party data but also second and third party, and map everything back to the consumer, using verification technologies. Success will only be possible when businesses invest in the process, putting in place a robust data stack. 

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