The attribution conundrum and how things measure up for 2022

Attribution models have had a bad reputation lately and it is true that various models, especially from the cross-platform business, have their challenges. But attribution is key for marketers to determine ROI in 2022.

Traditionally, marketers have only been able to access backward-facing media attribution models to understand the effectiveness of their campaigns. These weren’t in real time, had limited scope and ability to influence marketing budgets, and decisions were often ignored by the business. Thus, the ability of marketers to justify and measure the return on investment of their media budget was, shall we say, limited.

As media channels and technology have evolved, marketers began to develop an algorithmic attribution model, better known as multi-touch attribution (MTA), specifically for digital marketing initiatives to understand marketing performance in near real time.

Then came the “walled gardens” and the “cookie-free world”, which limit data access at the individual level, for good reason. This created doubt in the mind of the marketer as to whether MTA would deliver on its promise, questioning the accuracy of the solutions offered.


On the other hand, click-based attribution models within marketing platforms are also evolving.

  • Google is finally abandoning the non-direct last click attribution model in Google Ads, but very conveniently adding engaged for YouTube to its Google Analytics 4 attribution models.
  • Facebook announced an open source and automated media mix modeling (MMM) tool called Robyn. It aims to reduce human bias, allows frequent modeling results, and does not require Personally Identifiable Information (PII) such as email addresses, first or last name, cell phone numbers or data individuals at the journal level, which tend to be everyone’s favorite due to increased scrutiny of data collection practices and changes in privacy laws.

However, there is a lack of fairness and trust, as marketing platforms take more credit than they deserve and collectively report more than what the company actually does in sales. As a result, what this means for advertisers using a variety of tactics is still unclear.

And there are still problems, such as:

  • Web analytics platforms do not support post-view conversions (except YouTube in the case of GA4).
  • Without “clean rooms”, it is not possible to attach the data to the walled gardens. Data cleanrooms allow marketers to join their data to walled garden datasets to perform user-level analysis on data that would not otherwise be available).
  • Historically, marketing mix models haven’t been quick enough to make real-time decisions.

A key point to consider is that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Every business has buying cycles, customer interaction points, budgets, etc. different.

For example, an insurance business model would be different from a telco, which would be different from a university and so on. Therefore, the levers they pull to generate income and sales are also very different. Out-of-the-box attribution solutions just don’t offer the level of granularity or nuance for the majority of businesses.

So how do you answer these critical questions:

  • Is our marketing and media mix effective?
  • How much should we invest?
  • Where should we invest?

Businesses need to evolve their measurement capabilities to overcome today’s data and privacy challenges, sustain their data collection efforts while limiting media investment to improve overall business outcomes.

You don’t have to start with the world’s most sophisticated attribution solution, as long as you’re starting somewhere and have confidence in your approach. It can be as simple as aligning the marketing measurement framework with business goals and business KPIs, documenting primary and secondary conversion points, identifying gaps from a markup perspective, and ensuring that campaigns contribute to the profitability of the business, not just sales.

He should also feel comfortable with your business model so that it can constantly grow and mature over time, towards a unified metric that takes into account internal and external factors that impact performance. .

A well-designed solution can not only provide budget allocation scenarios for campaign planning and in-campaign optimizations, but also unleash valuable information at the strategic and tactical level, thereby improving the overall customer experience and profitability of the company. the company.

Gagan Batra is the director of Insighten.

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