The Attribution Minefield: What's Keeping Brands From Multi-Touch Intelligence

Email specialists are often siloed off, and worry only about open and click-through rates. But they should think about the bigger picture: that of multi-touch attribution, or MTA.

It’s a growing discipline, judging by State of MTA 2019, a study by the MMA, a trade association devoted to the science of attribution. 

In North America, 45% of companies now utilize MTA, up from 41% in 2018 and 35% in 2016. Only 17% do not plan to deploy MTA in the near future, but 8% expect to in the next 18 months, 13% in 12 months, and 17% in six months. 

Similar growth has occurred in use of data management platforms (DMPs) with Unified IDs — from 29% in 2017 and 2018 to 39% this year. But 14% say they have a DMP, but am sure if it has Unified IDs. And 20% lack a DMP, and 15% don’t know.

Sadly, most marketers are not ready for MTA deployment, even some of those that are using it. Only 19% have fully integrated MTA into their media planning process, and 40% are unsure of about the impact of their MTA tools on ROI.



And they must be doing something wrong — their average net promoter (NPS) score is -26%, versus -22% last year. Still, it’s an improvement from 2016, when the average NPS score was -42%.

Of MTA users, 34% say individual level data are not available for traditional media. And 41% of non-MTA users say the same thing. Here’s where email measurement could be a problem.

Indeed, most non-users rely on click-through reports and linear attribution (i.e. first touch, last touch).

Yet the two sides are in sync on measuring some media channels using other tools — 41% of the MTA users do so, and 42% of the non-users.

It’s a tough job. The main obstacles to MTA deployment are:

  • Identifying KPIs for measuring effectiveness, including benchmarks & measurement approaches — 46%
  • How to determine which channels, assets & publishers produce the highest ROI — 39%
  • Integration of Marketing Mix Models (MMM) and MTA results — 34%
  • Measurement of reach across devices — 26%
  • Understanding marketing attribution data requirements, including acquisition, limitations, and privacy — 25%
  • Approaches for cross-media impression equivalization — 20%
  • How to determine the best consumer segments for targeting — 20%
  • Global considerations/strategies for marketing attribution — 18%
  • Identifying digital proxy measures for attribution — 15%
  • CMO educational boot camp on marketing attribution — 14%
  • MTA provider inventory of key capabilities & data assets — 12%
  • Other — 4%

The grim takeaway from all this? That “building the right data infrastructure and executing MTA is still really hard,” states Greg Stuart, CEO of the MMA. 

The MMA surveyed 295 professionals in North America.



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