In our opinion, this is not about what is 'fair' attribution of CPA credit but what is most effective for delivering campaign objectives (target sales volume at lowest campaign CPA and highest campaign ROI). A marketer might decide on 80 per cent attribution credit to publishers which reach prospects when they first become 'in-market' and 20 per cent to the last click, but can any technology provider with a significant search business be trusted to develop a solution which gives total control over how much value to attribute to a search click?
The industry is also aware that advertisers are insistent that not all of their online marketing spend and performance data is visible to media owners like Google or Microsoft. The technology supplier that enables an advertiser to report adjusted CPA credits would have to track all paid online media so surely this puts Google and Microsoft out of the frame.
Adrian Joseph from Google said, 'Our key message at the moment is the role of search beyond that final click to purchase.' ValueClick's Mediaplex would question the role of search in the final click to purchase! All too often the last click is a navigational search, for example 'www.advertiser.com' typed into Google tool bar rather than the browser address bar and therefore it often cannot be said to contribute to the purchase intent.
Microsoft said that 'the company can now provide a scientifically based standard showing how well different media affect an eventual conversion.' The attribution of CPA credit requires an understanding of the specific purchase path and what that looks like within the context of the paid media mix. So, there cannot be a 'scientifically based standard' to define the attribution of CPA credit.
Crucially, it is one thing to offer performance data that is modified to reflect the adjusted attribution credit to correlated interactions but it is something very different to supply technology that enables an advertiser to actually pay publishers this adjusted CPA credit. Where publisher tracking tags are supplied, this payment of adjusted CPA credit could be confirmed in real time.
Adjusted CPA credit will enable an adjusted ROI calculation for a single media delivery or the total delivery within an online channel. If there is to be an industry standard metric, we propose Adjusted ROI (AROI) and Adjusted CPA (ACPA) to indicate that ROI and CPA statements are not just based on last click.
We hypothesise that by compensating content publishers for doing what they do best and in a way which respects the purchase path, the user's needs will be better addressed and the purchase path less fragmented. Consequently users will move down the purchase path with fewer expensive, generic searches and relatively cheaper brand and product searches. So, overall campaign search costs could be reduced while maintaining equally competitive bid prices and without any risk to the search funnel.
We are developing strategic partnerships with advertisers and agencies to demonstrate this technology, and we would be happy to debate these issues with the industry further.
Robin Davies is head of client services, Mediaplex U.K.