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How to prepare yourself to be marketing attribution-ready

How to prepare yourself to be marketing attribution-ready Manu Mathew

An increasing number of marketers are coming to the realization that advanced attribution is a necessary tool for accurately measuring and optimizing cross-channel marketing performance. While an attribution solution can provide great value in terms of marketing effectiveness and efficiency, committing to one requires a significant investment in both time and resources. Prior to implementation, it is important that organizations take the necessary steps to prepare themselves and ensure their teams are ready to maximize the benefits. Here are four ways to ensure your organization is marketing attribution-ready so you can make the most out of your investment.

Educate your ecosystem on why they need to adopt attribution

Marketing attribution is not a one-off project, but a strategic, long-term initiative that fundamentally changes the way marketing performance is measured and optimized -- both within an organization and externally across agency and platform partners. Any successful attribution initiative requires approval from executives, as well as buy-in from rank-and-file staff who will use the insights and analysis on a day-to-day basis to measure performance and put optimization strategies into market.

Start with education and explain the goals you want to accomplish from your attribution initiative and the burning marketing questions it will help to answer. Are you trying to increase conversions and revenue? Is your organization's marketing portfolio becoming more diverse and you need an environment in which media can be tested and optimized in a streamlined fashion? Are you trying to justify the ROI of a certain media buy? Whatever the complex marketing challenges you're aiming to solve, the more consensus you can build around program goals and the attribution analysis upon which performance will be based, the smoother and swifter the implementation and adoption process will be. Organizational buy-in and education become even more critical for companies looking to roll out attribution on a global scale. Technology does not solve all problems, so planning your strategy and identifying the right people and processes are key to success.

Understand the data that powers attribution

Many marketers have misconceptions about the data needed to feed an attribution solution. These misconceptions often stem from previous approaches used to measure performance, such as media mix modeling (MMM), which leverage summary level data and rarely go deeper than recommending how to allocate budget between channels. Advanced attribution, on the other hand, starts with the audience and how they interact with your brand. These robust platforms combine aggregate-level data from non-addressable channels like TV, with user-level data from addressable channels like online display and paid search to provide a holistic view of media performance and recommendations for optimization at the most granular level. But like most software, the quality of the output depends on the input. All relevant data sources must be included to benefit from a truly comprehensive view of performance, and identifying these disparate sources can take time.

Marketers can avoid data-related implementation delays by ensuring a tagging infrastructure is in place, their ad server is set up and collecting data across online channels, and a process is defined for accessing cookie-level data. Such preemptive actions help eliminate bottlenecks and ensure you're getting actionable optimization recommendations that can be put into market quickly.

Recognize that not all solutions are created equal

Another common misconception is that marketing attribution is simply a tool for digital measurement and optimization. In reality, not all attribution solutions are created equal. The more robust attribution solutions uncover the impact of media spend across the full spectrum of channels (TV, print, radio, digital, out of home, event marketing, etc.) and provide a lens into how your historical campaigns have performed at both a macro- and micro-level.

Marketers can easily identify the synergies between online and offline channels and tactics, how they work together to drive KPIs, and how a change made to one or more tactics will impact the performance of others. With this insight, marketers can make both strategic and tactical decisions to maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of their entire marketing portfolio.

Recognize that value grows over time

Advanced attribution not only requires marketers and their ecosystem partners to think differently, but also to invest budget differently. Attribution will provide accurate measurement and recommendations for optimization, but unless you continuously measure the performance of your campaigns and put those optimization recommendations back into market, you'll never achieve the goals mapped out at the beginning of the initiative.

It's also important to remember that patience is a virtue when it comes to attribution. Nothing happens overnight, and it may take time to see positive results and/or dramatic changes based on how you optimize your campaigns. If you set the expectation that it will take time to see results, it is more likely your internal teams and ecosystem partners will stick with attribution for the long haul.

Once you've made the decision to embrace a marketing attribution solution, preparation is key to ensuring you and your teams get the most out of it. Attribution is an initiative that your entire marketing ecosystem needs to rally against in order to be successful. With all the pieces in place beforehand, roll-out and adoption will not only be swift and smooth, but your organization will reap the benefits for many years -- and many campaigns -- to come.

Manu Mathew is the co-founder and chief executive officer of Visual IQ. He is responsible for directing the company's growth by expanding its client base to include Fortune 500 and Internet 1000 advertisers facing the performance and optimization...

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