Attribution Is Killing Your Strategy

Marketers who over-index on grabbing the quick dollar versus investing in building their brand are doing themselves a disservice. Brands too often commit a fatal blunder by focusing too intensely on a return on advertising spend (ROAS) model for all media dollars, which looks at value from only low-funnel efforts.

Don’t get me wrong: you absolutely should measure your ROI from digital marketing and have a large majority of your budget tied to performance efforts, but marketing goes far beyond attributing every incoming dollar.

Digital marketing has no single solution. By ignoring the need for building brand and consumer mindshare through a full-funnel approach, a brand will never extend market share adequately and create brand affinity among its TAM (total addressable market). To drive long-term growth and success, marketers must invest in brand equity by claiming a prominent presence in customers’ minds.

But what exactly does building brand and mindshare encompass? It starts with delivering compelling messages through media like video pre-roll and programmatic display (a celebrity endorsement and a Super Bowl ad don’t hurt either). Favorably associating brand positioning and differentiation at a national level often can grow the market overall and have an accelerated impact on future customer acquisition.



For instance, my colleagues have found that a well-run programmatic display campaign dramatically improves the performance of an accompanying paid search campaign. Additionally, running programmatic display campaigns have led to an increase of 15% to 20% in direct and organic traffic.

By focusing less on strictly ROAS, marketers will turn heads, and consumers will start searching for their brand. You can gain new customers without depending exclusively on an expensive pay-per-lead model.

Look at this as renting versus buying. Renting -- focusing solely on ROAS -- may lead to better ROI in the short term, but you will never get ahead of your pay-per-lead model. Buying -- focusing more on a holistic approach -- may be more costly in the short term, but investing in your business’ brand will prove to be the smarter financial choice in the long term, as customers will begin to seek it out.

For example, a national homebuilding company has executed this type of strategy by investing 51% of its digital budget into programmatic display, 21% into paid social, 18% into paid search, and 10% into video. It has seen astronomical lifts in direct traffic and brand recognition among in-market consumers because they have become top of mind in key geographic markets.

By investing in its brand (buying, not renting)it has less reliance on paid search (renting, not buying) than competitors.

Enlarging the marketing funnel and the volume of new prospects as opposed to simply exhausting a limited number of low-funnel customers will prove a much more viable strategy for long-term growth.

No shortcuts exist for guiding the customer’s journey and building the right brand experience. It's comparable to proposing on the first date: The answer will always be "no!"  By diversifying a budget across all forms of digital channels across the spectrum, a marketer can effectively build brand and market share while lowering the overall acquisition cost.

As an experienced marketer, if your instinct tells you something, go for it, even if you can’t measure an immediate ROAS. Don’t let attribution kill your strategy.

1 comment about "Attribution Is Killing Your Strategy".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, March 24, 2022 at 8:44 a.m.

    I agree, Phil, it's a mistake to ignore building a brand's equity and reputation/image in favor of trying to determine ROI fore very placement or website used. But why not do much of your brand building on traditional media---like "TV"? That seems to be what many tech companies have been doing and it seems to work for them.

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