How to take the plunge with media attribution

You've read about attribution modeling, and you're ready to begin seeing the true value of media performance. You want to get the most out of your digital budget, but the problem is you're stuck. You want to get moving fast, so now what?

How to take the plunge with media attribution

The first step is always to define your attribution goals, and understand what attribution can do. Attribution allows marketers to better understand upstream user-actions (ad views and clicks) and their impact on the final goal action (download, sale, lead form etc.). Attribution alone won't make your media perform better, and it won't improve your conversion rates. What it will do is illustrate where your dollars are used most effectively, so that through media allocation optimization, your digital spend becomes more effective. Attribution is the key to unlocking successful cross-channel optimizations of media spend in order to increase back-end performance. It's not the last step to performance improvement, it's the first step.

The second step in building out attribution is to ensure that all digital channels are centrally managed through a single platform. There are three primary types of platforms:

  • Analytics Platforms such as Omniture or Coremetrics
  • Ad Servers such as DoubleClick, Atlas, and Mediaplex
  • Attribution Platforms such as ClearSaleing, Encore Metrics, and C3 Metrics.

The third step, once you have centralized management of your online media channels, is to begin tracking the touches prior to each conversion. This step is often where marketers get bogged down, because there are many models from which to choose, including first or last click, even distribution, or "time decay."  However, to get moving faster, first begin by determining how many conversions receive multiple touches, and the percentage of total conversions which are single touch, dual touch, tri-touch and so-forth. From there, you can sort by number of touches. The 80/20 rule applies here, and you will find that a majority of your conversions come from a specific number of touches. For example, you may find that 70 percent of your conversions have either two, three or four touches. It is these buckets where you want to dig deeper into media placements, as this is where the bulk of your media optimization opportunity lies.

Last, remembering the goal is optimizing your media allocations, review the placements which are appearing in each of the two, three and four touch conversions, and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Which placements appear most frequently?
  • Which placements have the most touches per impression?
  • Which placements have the lowest cost per touch?

With these steps, you will begin to see media placements rise to the top of the list. These become your "performing placements" and you should expand the usage of these instead of the other placements which do not appear as touches. Now you've begun to use attribution to further your media allocation optimization without the added pain of determining the exact share per placement.

Ted Rooke is VP if media services at Response Mine Interactive.

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Comments

Matthew Anthony
Matthew Anthony September 26, 2012 at 9:23 PM

While the topic of attribution is certainly getting a lot of attention, I am concerned that it's being talked about in a far more simplistic fashion than it really deserves (both here and in other arenas). Attribution is something that should be driven by data scientists, statisticians, etc ... attempting to oversimplify it beyond its due is dangerous when organizations are intending to action upon those models by allocating real dollars of ad-spend based on the output. A well-constructed attribution analysis is a complex statistical undertaking - and the specification of the model to be used is a critical element of ensuring useable, accurate output. Additionally, interpreting the output of such models into actionable insights, as well as being able to modify or optimize those models, also requires knowledgeable & appropriately qualified eyes. Consequently, while the SaaS siren call for an ad-tech point solution is certainly enticing, it's clearly not the full measure of the solution that is truly called for. At least, a qualified data scientist should be operating that solution … at best, your data scientists and statisticians are actively researching and creating specific models for your business based on best-practices from industry and academia.

To that end, I'd also clarify Mediaplex's market position. While true that our lineage is in the adserving business, we are truly doing more ... we are a fully functional marketing analytics company. We provide full-service marketing analytics, custom analytics project support, data strategy auditing, and attribution analysis.