In today’s more measurement-focused marketing world cross-channel attribution is a hot topic, and it’s never been more important to source quality marketing analytics talent through sources like analytics staffing. Briefly, this is the science of using advanced analytics to allocate proportional credit to each marketing touch point across all online and off-line channels, leading to a desired customer action.
That’s basically how Forrester defined it in The Forrester Wave: Cross-Channel Attribution Providers, Q4 2014 report (here), published in November. Daniel Kehrer, VP Marketing at attribution company MarketShare, prefers to phrase it a bit more simply as “giving credit where credit is due.” Either way, the result is this: attribution helps brands track their marketing and media efforts more accurately and show how they impact the overall business.
Cross-channel attribution helps marketers and competitive intelligence professionals see a holistic view of the customer purchase path.
Watch this for a more in-depth explanation of cross-channel attribution.
More Pressure Than Ever
The heat is on for marketing organizations to demonstrate the value of their campaigns and show what worked or didn’t. This helps explain why brands plan to increase their spending on marketing analytics a stunning 73% over the next three years, according to the September 2014 edition of The CMO Survey published by Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. For companies with $1 billion to $10 billion in revenue, the expected increase is even bigger at 86%—and for companies in the B2C services sector it’s nearly 100%.
Attribution is “giving credit where credit is due.”
The CMO Survey paints a clear picture of marketing organizations feeling more pressure to prove the value of what they do (65% report the pressure is increasing), but lacking the means to demonstrate impact in quantitative terms (about 65% say they can’t). For many brand marketers, attribution is the answer.
Done right, attribution can provide clear and accurate insights into how, when and where marketing influences customers across devices and channels. Marketers can then use those insights to spend smarter and define the optimal mix of customer interactions. In short, with cross-channel attribution, marketers can do more with less because they understand their customers better.
Trouble is, brands routinely underestimate just how difficult advanced, enterprise-scale analytics really is. Most still use antiquated methods that crumble in an increasingly complex online and off-line marketing ecosystem. Some methods, such as “last click,” were discredited long ago. The technology to do it right—which is to say, holistically—requires not just Big Data, but Big Measurement and Big Models that can tackle the problem on massive scale, as well as the marketing analytics talent to execute and apply the results.
Eight Misconceptions about Attribution
As more companies move to embrace cross-channel attribution, myths about what it can and can’t do keep hanging around. Here are eight such myths and the associated realities: (TWEET THIS)
#1: Attribution is a Digital-Only Capability
The Truth: That was once true, and not long ago. But no longer. That’s why the preferred term is “cross-channel” attribution instead of just digital attribution as in the past. If you measure only digital, you’re missing the bigger picture. Attribution needs to account for online, off-line and non-media factors (like what your competitors are doing, or even the weather).
#2: Mix Modeling Doesn’t Sync Well With Attribution
The Truth: In fact, the two technologies are merging to form the future of advanced marketing analytics. As this happens, what Forrester Research calls “adaptive marketing” is replacing old planning and measurement processes, transforming how major brands deliver on marketing goals and connect with customers. As attribution and mix modeling tools are integrated, old campaign mindsets become obsolete and real time optimization becomes reality.
#3: Programmatic Buying Can’t Rely on Attribution Data
Reality: This, too, is changing. Top tier attribution technology can now sync with media buying engines to help companies instantly adjust their media spending to match the analytical insights they generate in real time.
#4: Brand Presence over Time Can’t be Attributed
The Truth: As the technology evolves, the most advanced tools can now measure longer term brand impacts alongside shorter term, consumer level impacts. You just need the right tools and talent. That’s significant since failing to account for brand can throw ROI calculations off by a bundle.
#5: Predictive Models are Just a Shot in the Dark
The Truth: Indeed, some of them aren’t. But all models are not created equal. The math and the people who build them are of tremendous importance. The best of the bunch can nail it about 80 % of the time.
#6: Systematic Road Blocks Like Untracked Ads and Cookie Stuffing Make Attribution Unviable
The Truth: While these issues are real and pose problems for simpler systems, the most advanced attribution technology can filter results to count only what should be counted, and measure the true effectiveness of your marketing.
#7: I Don’t Have Access to Enough Data for Viable Attribution
The Truth: Sure, more data is usually better. But that shouldn’t stop you. A wealth of third-party data providers can help fill any gaps.
#8: Attribution is Better Left to My Agency
The Truth: Don’t look now (or wait, maybe you should look now), but there isn’t a single agency or consulting firm on anyone’s short list of cross channel attribution providers—or even long list for that matter. You’re almost always better off with in-house talent and analytics staffing to you have control over the process and a firsthand look at your attribution results.
Read More on What’s Going on with Cross-Channel
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