With Attribution, A Little Learning Goes A Long Way

With Attribution, A Little Learning Goes A Long Way

Marketers are struggling to turn attribution insights into action particularly during their initial efforts, argues Lauren Evans, Regional Marketing Partner Asia Pacific & Japan at Kenshoo. Partly that reflects the maturity of their experience, as many marketers embrace very elementary approaches to measurement to begin with.

The good news, according to a study last year by Forrester Research called “Cross Channel Attribution Must Convert Insight into Action” which was commissioned by Kenshoo, is that a little learning goes a long way.

Savvy marketers with a few runs under their belt are getting sharper and nimbler with their attribution measurement, says Forrester.

The study’s authors found for instance that satisfaction improved as marketers added more channels to their attribution models and as they learned to act more quickly on their results.

Marketers who described themselves “very” or “completely” satisfied with their attribution efforts measured more channels in their attribution models —typically about two more channels than their peers.

And Forrester suggests many marketers are quick learners. “A little organisational experience with attribution was important, as those with at least 12 months were significantly more satisfied.”

Speed to action also improved satisfaction according to the study. “Forty-two percent of marketers have the processes and technologies in place to act on their attribution results at least several times a day. This same group also reported significantly higher satisfaction levels when it came to acting on attribution insights, with 75 per cent saying they are very or completely satisfied.”

Data, data everywhere

The Forrester Research study posits that marketers are overwhelmed by customer data, and they suggest that simply having access to all this extra data offers no guarantee additional insights to act upon.

That’s why attribution models are so important. “Attribution promises a vista to look across this increasingly complex data landscape, where marketers know with confidence where to increase spend and which cuts will fund that increase.”

In fact the study revealed that even a little bit of success left marketers wanting more. “Forrester found that companies were satisfied with the attribution results they had received so far, but they were yearning to get more from their investment and to apply their insights to additional challenges and channels.”

But that assumes that current impediments can be overcome. A lack of organisational support is a critical issue with marketers citing the need to build the confidence of their colleagues before proceeding too far. Likewise, marketers find it difficult to incorporate the results of their attribution models into their media plans due to a lack of automation. And almost a third say they find it hard to reconcile the results of attribution with other analysis.

Experience matters

Attribution is a relatively new methodology but one that has taken hold rapidly as new models have emerged and marketers move beyond giving sole credit to the last ad clicked. For instance three quarters of those surveyed had implemented a new attribution solution in the past year.

As such experienced organisations are rare. Indeed only 10 per cent of the marketers surveyed said they had been using any form of attribution for more than four years, while two-thirds (67 per cent) have been using it for two years or less.

Attribution has quickly broadened from its digital roots as marketing scientists have tried to expand its granularity of insights with new approaches such as path and sequence analyses, but these methods are still early in the adoption life cycle.

Softly, softly, catch a monkey, but not too softly

Marketers typically begin by using basic attribution approaches to measure impact but once they gain a little confidence they tend to develop their approach quickly. The majority of marketers surveyed (76 per cent) have moved beyond single-touch attribution.

However there is still a long way for many to go with Forrester finding that only 11 per cent of those surveyed for the study were using advanced algorithmic attribution as recommended by Forrester (see Figure 2).

Additionally, many marketers are applying the attribution too narrowly — only 24 per cent consistently measure cross-campaign effects.

Another issue for marketers, particularly those just getting started is that the attribution vendor market is extremely fragmented according to Forrester. Again that’s probably a reflection of market maturity. Marketers are turning to a wide variety of partners to help them with their attribution needs. Despite the potential analytic and data challenges, only 14 per cent are using attribution specialists.

Forrester offers a number of key recommendations that marketers can follow to get the best results from their attribution models.

  • Build an attribution business case and get executive sponsorship. Advanced attribution methodologies covering many channels require an investment to build, but they also require time to understand and socialize across the organization. So put a plan together that is realistic and covers the range of benefits and costs and includes potential risks.
  • Collaboration with the customer Insights team should start early in the project. CI professionals can share data standards that can speed implementation, validate a vendor’s analytic approach to ease a major source of apprehension, and design robust tests that verify the value of the new attribution approach.
  • Connect attribution insights to media execution engines. Marketers need the ability to respond to their rapidly changing digital interests. Connecting attribution engines to bid management platforms allows brands to adjust pieces of their digital advertising spend in real time. Can your brand profit from the exhaust of a passing social media phenomena? Linking of attribution and bid management platforms is how you capture those opportunities.
  • Test and experiment with new marketing and media strategies to continually improve results. Don’t limit your attribution tool by only improving what you have always done — use it as an opportunity to discover new approaches. This may include testing new publishers for display ads, different contact frequencies on popular social media sites, or different messaging for magazines, or performing multivariate tests that identify combinations of content, creative, and channel.

The age of the customer demands that marketers adjust offers and messages based on up-to the-moment customer information and understand their customers across all of their channels, ” say the report authors. “It is no surprise that marketers who can act quickly on their attribution results and have more channels incorporated into their attribution measurement are more satisfied.

To download the full report, please visit here.

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